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martes, 15 de mayo de 2007

Evangelist Jerry Falwell dies at 73

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. evangelist Jerry Falwell, who helped turn the religious right into a powerful political force and fired controversy with his battles against abortion and homosexuality, died on Tuesday at age 73.
He was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital just over an hour later, said Dr. Carl Moore, his personal physician.
The evangelist, who had a history of heart problems, had no heartbeat when he was found by colleagues, Moore said, adding he apparently died of a heart rhythm abnormality.
Falwell's increasing influence in the 1970s and 1980s coincided with the rise of the U.S. religious right, whose votes helped send conservative Republicans including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to the White House.
Fond of quipping that the Bible referred to "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," Falwell provoked a storm of protest when he said gays, lesbians and health workers who provide abortions were partly to blame for the September 11 attacks.
"I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians ... all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen," he said.
Reactions to Falwell's death reflected the bitter divide over his views, and over the role of religion in political life in the United States.
President Bush said he was deeply saddened by Falwell's death, calling him "a man who cherished faith, family and freedom."
"Jerry lived a life of faith and called upon men and women of all backgrounds to believe in God and serve their communities," Bush said in a written statement.
Another leading evangelist, Pat Robertson said: "Jerry's courage and strength of convictions will be sadly missed in this time of increasing moral relativism."
Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, said Falwell was "instrumental in galvanizing millions of American evangelicals into an intolerant, sectarian and authoritarian political movement."

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