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Rev. Jerry Falwell Dies at 73

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) -- A preacher and broadcaster who became the face of the religious right -- the Reverend Jerry Falwell -- has died at age 73.

The founder of the Moral Majority was discovered unconscious in his office at Virginia's Liberty University, which he established in 1971 as part of his formidable religious empire. It's not yet clear what caused the collapse.

His doctor says Falwell had a heart rhythm abnormality.

Falwell started a small church in 1956 inside an abandoned bottling plant. His enterprises would grow to include the 22-thousand-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, the "Old Time Gospel Hour" carried on television stations around the country, and Liberty University, which has 77-hundred students. He also built Christian elementary schools, homes for unwed mothers and a home for alcoholics.

He had opposed mixing preaching with politics. But in 1979, he founded the Moral Majority. Falwell later credited the group with getting millions of conservative voters registered, electing Ronald Reagan and giving Republicans Senate control in 1980.

Falwell is survived by his wife, Macel, and three children, Jerry, Jonathan and Jeannie.

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