Rev. Jerry Falwell, the controversial icon of the right is no more.
The television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. He was 73.
He died suddenly of what his doctor suspects was the final throes of heart disease.
Dr. Carl Moore, Rev. Falwell's personal physician, says "he was found without a pulse; never regain a pulse and it is a little too early to speculate this I would assume that he passed away from the cardiac rhythm abnormality."
Ron Godwin, Liberty's executive vice president, said he was not sure what caused the collapse but noted that Falwell had "a history of heart challenges."
"I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast," Godwin said. "He went to his office, I went to mine, and they found him unresponsive."
Falwell, became the face of the religious right in the 1980s. He later founded the conservative Liberty University and serves as its president.
Falwell survived two serious health scares in early 2005. He was hospitalized for two weeks with what was described as a viral infection, then was hospitalized again a few weeks later after going into respiratory arrest. Later that year, doctors found a 70 percent blockage in an artery, which they opened with stents.
He carried on an unrelenting crusade against whatever he considered was a challenge to conservatism or right wing perceptions.
"I believe that homosexuality is moral perversion. I think it is a violation of the laws of nature, as well as the laws of God," he once said.
Even President George Bush was embarrassed when Falwell famously said in the wake of September 11, "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' ".
Following the furore, he retracted his statement. But obviously he did not take enough care of his health, it is pointed out.