The Rev. Jerry Falwell, Founder and Chancellor of Liberty University and Founder and Pastor of the historic Thomas Road Baptist Church , died today. He was 73. Rev. Falwell was found unconscious in his office around 11:30 a.m., by members of his staff and received immediate resuscitation efforts there, again in the ambulance and at Lynchburg General Hospital . He was officially pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m.
“The Reverend Jerry Falwell and I were arch enemies for fifteen years. We became involved in a lawsuit concerning First Amendment rights and Hustler magazine. Without question, this was my most important battle – the l988 Hustler Magazine, Inc., v. Jerry Falwell case, where after millions of dollars and much deliberation, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in my favor. My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling. The most important result of our relationship was the landmark decision from the Supreme Court that made parody protected speech, and the fact that much of what we see on television and hear on the radio today is a direct result of my having won that now famous case which Falwell played such an important role in.”
–Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler Magazine
“Over the years we became friends; sometimes we had polar opposite points of view. … I have many fond memories of him. He leaves a great legacy of service and a great university behind. He’s left his footprints in the sands of time.” – The Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“Reverend Falwell and I didn’t agree on anything, but we got along personally. He personally was genuinely a nice guy, and I would find him to be one of the few people in the public light who was genuine. He believed what he said. I used to tell him, ‘What you’re saying is crazy,’ but he really believes it.” Rev. Al Sharpton
I also found this an intresting remark from Rick Warren, a Falwell supporter:
“I believe Jerry Falwell’s primary legacy will not be his political leadership, but the church he pastored for 50 years, the university he founded that has produced two generations of leaders, the millions who heard him preach the Good News, the innovations in ministry he introduced, and the thousands of young pastors, like myself, that he constantly encouraged, even when we did it differently.” –Rick Warren