Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,187 covers and 55,435 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Taylor Swift Donates $50,000 to Young Fan Battling Cancer: 'Let's Focus on Getting You Better'
- Read the Cover Story: Growing Up Kennedy!
Exclusive Family Photos from White House Nanny
- New Pee-wee Herman Movie to Debut on Netflix in March 2016
- Raven-Symoné on Bill Cosby Sex Scandal: 'Now There Are Real Facts'
- RHONY: Heather Calls Bethenny a 'Know-It-All'
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- May 28, 2007
- Vol. 67
- No. 21
Jerry Falwell 1933-2007
The TV Evangelist Helped Win the Religious Right a Prominent Place on the American Political Map
Even on the morning of May 15, when Falwell, 73, was found unconscious in his office and later pronounced dead, apparently of a heart condition, he was making plans. Liberty University executive vice president Ron Godwin had earlier eaten breakfast with Falwell. "He was talking about the future," says Godwin. Credited with creating one of the nation's first megachurches, Falwell parlayed his success among evangelicals into political pay dirt when he founded the Moral Majority in 1979, registering millions of conservative voters and aiding the landmark election of Ronald Reagan the following year. "Until he became politically active, most conservative Christian leaders felt it was no part of their calling to be involved in the public policy process," says Leadership Institute founder Morton Blackwell, a longtime friend. "From the political standpoint, I think it can be safely said Falwell changed America."
The son of Helen Beasley, a fiercely religious homemaker (she chased her son out of bed on Sundays by blaring Old Fashioned Revival Hour on the radio) and Carey Falwell, an atheist and former bootlegger, Falwell founded his first church in 1956 in an old soda-bottling plant in Lynchburg and built it into a congregation of 24,000.
Unabashedly controversial, Falwell used his radio and TV appearances to decry homosexuality and abortion rights. During a TV appearance after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he said feminists, gays, lesbians and the ACLU had "helped this happen." (He later apologized.) In other ink-grabbing statements, he described the Antichrist as a Jewish man and warned parents that Tinky Winky, a purse-carrying character on Teletubbies, was gay. Says Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: "Falwell manipulated a powerful pulpit in exchange for access to political power and promotion of a narrow range of moral concerns.... But there is no denying his impact on American political life."
- With Sharon Cotliar.
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!