Falwell leaves complex legacy

A pension for rhetoric coupled with personal warmth
Few figures in the second half of the 20th century have proved as polarizing in American popular and political culture as Jerry Falwell, who died May 15 at the age of 73. But the outspoken fundamentalist preacher and political activist, who preached a black-and-white gospel and described a stark world of evil versus good, leaves behind a legacy far more nuanced and complex.

The media impresario was best known for his blustery public statements—including more than a few gaffes for which he later apologized—on subjects as controversial as homosexuality, the AIDS crisis, the apartheid regime in South Africa and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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