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CNN NEWSROOM

Jerry Falwell Dies at Age 73; Three U.S. Soldiers Missing in Iraq

Aired May 15, 2007 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
RONALD GODWIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Dr. Falwell's a great leader. And because of that, he's made timely and now prescient preparations for such an event as this. And Dr. Falwell did a lot of planning for a transition when he had no crisis.

So he has done a great job in that area. And we expect to be able to take up the reigns there. He has two wonderful sons who will -- who will exercise that leadership.

QUESTION: For the nation, I mean, everybody is watching at this point. For everyone out there that followed Reverend Falwell, your words to them, your words of faith maybe to them?

GODWIN: Dr. Falwell was a giant of faith, and a visionary leader. And he is a man -- has always been a man of great optimism and great faith. And he has left instructions for those of us who have to carry on, and we will be faithful to that charge.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the graduation coming up this weekend?

GODWIN: You know, there's never a good time, but we actually discussed this morning certain possibilities, and so that's a -- we will do just fine this weekend. It's not -- it's not -- it will be something like Virginia Tech, I suppose, in that it will be a bittersweet occasion, but we will -- but we will have a baccalaureate service on Friday night, and we will have commencement on Saturday as scheduled.

QUESTION: Dr. Godwin, what will be the impact on the local community? He's been such a moving force for so many years.

GODWIN: Well, it's inestimable. Dr. Falwell is a huge, huge leader here in this area and in the nation at large.

QUESTION: What do you think the impact will be on the political movement? He's been such a political figure for so long.

GODWIN: Well, it's not my role to speculate on that at this particular time. I -- we're all dealing with the immediate challenge we face just here.

QUESTION: Sir, could you walk us through the timeline of events, starting with late this morning? GODWIN: I think the doctor could better do that. I could just tell you that I met him at breakfast at 8:30, and we were through at about probably 10 minutes until 10:00.

QUESTION: Let me ask you this. You have known Reverend Falwell for many, many years.

GODWIN: That's true.

QUESTION: As have many of us in this community. And what would you say he hopes his lasting legacy would be?

GODWIN: I think Liberty University and its continued growth. And his goal was always to reach 25,000 resident students on campus, and an unlimited number of students by way of our distance learning programs. And he's been hugely encouraged this year by the growth that we have experienced, and there's never been a more fruitful, more productive time in the history of Liberty, or Thomas Road Baptist Church, and he has enjoyed leading this very year.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Carl Moore is a member of the cardiovascular group here in Lynchburg, part of center health, and is Dr. Falwell's personal physician. And he'll make a statement at this time.

DR. CARL MOORE, LYNCHBURG GENERAL HOSPITAL: Dr. Falwell was found unconscious without a heartbeat in his office today at Liberty University around 11:30 in the morning. He was found by his associates.

Efforts to resuscitate Dr. Falwell at Liberty University were unsuccessful. Further efforts to resuscitate him by the emergency medical services en route to the hospital were also unsuccessful. Further efforts at Lynchburg General Hospital were also unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m.

QUESTION: Can you tell -- is this a heart attack?

MOORE: Well, he was found without pulse, and never regained pulse. And it's a little too early to speculate. I would assume that he passed away from a cardiac rhythm abnormality, which can be a manifestation of any heart disease, heart attack or otherwise.

QUESTION: I mean, obviously in the past he's had health problems. Did this play a role obviously in today's events?

MOORE: He is known to have a heart condition. He is regularly followed for that condition. This particular type of rhythm occurs without warning and cannot be predicted.

QUESTION: Can you tell us -- I know that you all have one of the number one cardiac labs in the nation -- the effort that you all made? I mean, just continued efforts, or what... MOORE: Well, again, a little too early to speculate on some of this, but as we said, he was without pulse, and without a pulse we cannot revive anyone. And very aggressive efforts were made both at Liberty, by the emergency medical crew, and here at Lynchburg General in the emergency room.

QUESTION: Is that CPR? Paddles? Can you be a little bit more specific about what went on?

MOORE: CPR, emergency drugs, attempt at pacing, and other resuscitative efforts were all unsuccessful.

QUESTION: Was Dr. Falwell on any specific medicines or under any sorts of treatments?

MOORE: I'm not really at liberty to speculate on that right now and to release that information.

QUESTION: Had you seen him recently? How was he doing recently? You said this comes on without warning.

MOORE: As I said, he's regularly followed and followed routinely.

QUESTION: Were you particularly concerned about him today, or this week, or this past month?

MOORE: I'm always concerned, always have been concerned about him, and continue that concern.

QUESTION: Would you talk about his age, his weight, and the stress of his job and how that plays into this condition?

MOORE: I really do not want to speculate on any of that at this time, and let the family go through their grieving process.

QUESTION: Dr. Moore, you said you worked with Reverend Falwell for many, many years. How -- can you tell us how long you had been working with him as his personal physician?

MOORE: I would say 10 to 15 years, maybe.

QUESTION: For you, I mean, that's a long time to work with a patient. For you, how is this?

MOORE: It's devastating to me personally, because even though we had a physician-patient relationship, he was a friend of mine as well.

QUESTION: What was he like to work with?

MOORE: Absolutely fantastic. Always pleasant, always appreciative, and as well he should be remembered for all his contributions.

QUESTION: And living in this community, I mean, you know what a player he was here and how much it meant to people. MOORE: Yes.

QUESTION: Will you be giving a cause of death at some future time? Will you be doing analyses in the lab? Or are you going to limit it to this?

MOORE: We may have a little update. We have got to do some additional study and communication with the family. We're still waiting for family members, and we need to inform all them before we assign (ph) this position.

QUESTION: I understand that Jerry Jr. was (INAUDIBLE) at the time and then he came back over. Are all of his immediate family members upstairs with you all?

MOORE: They are either upstairs or imminent arrival.

QUESTION: Would you talk about the decision about whether to perform an autopsy? Is that automatic? Is that automatic? Is that up to you? Is that up to the family?

How is that decided? Or it hasn't been decided?

MOORE: It has not been decided, and part of our ongoing discussions. And that is, dependent upon family wishes and decisions as well, which have not been agreed to as yet.

QUESTION: Dr. Moore, was there a plan in place if this should happen as far as what he would want done as far as resuscitation and, you know, what procedures would be used?

MOORE: I'm not aware of those personal plans and really cannot speculate at all.

QUESTION: How is your staff doing, the people who worked on him?

MOORE: I think they're devastated like the community. Our emotions are minimal compared to the family.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, can you say the condition one more time that you believe...

MOORE: Cardiac arrhythmia, sudden cardiac death.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of all of those at Center Health, we join Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University and our entire community in mourning the lost of Dr. Falwell.

He was a great person, an important leader, and left his mark on this community and on this country. And we just send our blessings, thoughts and prayers to his friends, his associates, those involved with those institutions, and particularly to his family.

Thank you very much. DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK. That press conference happening there at Lynchburg General Hospital.

A lot really coming from this press conference. We're being told by his doctor that they found him -- his doctor gave us a timeline of the events -- 11:30 a.m. by his associates in his office, and he was pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m.

Now, according to the doctors there, and also Ronald Godwin from Liberty University, he was in his office, they found him without a pulse. And according to the doctor, it was a cardiac rhythm abnormality.

He suffers from heart disease, but he says this rhythm abnormality cannot be predicted. And that's what doctors at least initially believe happened.

Very interesting that Ronald Godwin went to breakfast with him this morning. He said about 8:30, lasted until about 9:50, and then he was found dead at 11:30.

When asked who would take over for him, Mr. Godwin said he has two sons -- he has two sons, Jerry Falwell Jr., who is an attorney, his vice chancellor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, and Jonathan Falwell, who is also an attorney and executive pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. He has one daughter as well, Jeannie Falwell Savas. She is a surgeon in Richmond, Virginia.

His wife is still alive, Macel Pate Falwell.

And we are being told that folks are gathering now at Thomas Road Baptist Church, which is Jerry Falwell's church. They're going to hold a service there very shortly.

So all the events surrounding the death of Jerry Falwell, you can find them right here on CNN. We're going to bring them to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're back in just a moment.

Jerry Falwell dead at the age of 73.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It is coming up on 15 past the hour. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we're following the death of a major political and religious leader here in the United States, the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley with a look back at his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Son of an alcoholic who sold bootleg whiskey during prohibition, father of a movement to restore America as God's country. A big thinker from small town Virginia, growing his 35-member Thomas Road Baptist Church into a congregation of thousands, and then millions as the fundamentalist reverend raised on radio preachers pioneered a new evangelism, the TV pulpit, beaming his old-time gospel hour into American homes, turning living rooms into pews.

Jerry Falwell said he found Jesus in 1952, he found politics in 1979, forming the Moral Majority to lobby against abortion rights, gay rights, pornography, and a host of social issues. He claimed credit for helping elect Ronald Reagan and a string of officials down the government ladder.

JERRY FALWELL, FOUNDER, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: We have a goal of 200 of our people running for office this year at different levels across the country.

CROWLEY: A visionary to conservatives.

FALWELL: We admire and respect you, the president of the United States.

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jerry, I'm glad to have been introduced by a loyal friend.

CROWLEY: A Lucifer to liberals.

JAMES CARTER, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... in a very Christian way, as far as I'm concerned, he can go to hell!

CROWLEY: Pilloried by a high priest of porn in the pages of "Hustler".

FALWELL: I personally was anguished, am anguished, am still hurt.

CROWLEY: Always provocative. AIDS, he said, was God's punishment to homosexuals. September 11th, that was God's punishment, too, unleashed on the America of abortionists, feminists, Pagans and gays.

Falwell apologized for that one, blaming a lack of sleep, asking for the lord's forgiveness.

Through the decades, his targets ranged from terrorists to Teletubbies, first toting lovably lavender Tinky-Winky was an agent of the homosexual agenda.

FALWELL: Parents, be very careful what your children are watching.

CROWLEY: Despite the occasional colorful outburst, Falwell retreated from the secular world in his later years, dedicating himself to the once tiny church he turned into a multimillion-dollar empire.

FALWELL: Twenty million religious conservatives to the polls nationally.

CROWLEY: Leaving politics to those who followed the road he paved.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of friends Jerry Falwell coming forward, making statements now that they learned about his death. Most recently, we just heard from televangelist and the host of "The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network, CBN, the creator of that, Pat Robertson. Coming forward and saying this: "Jerry's courage and strength of convictions will be sadly missed in this time of increasing moral relativism. I join with the tens of thousands of his friends to mourn the passing of this extraordinary human being."

Reverend Pat Robertson now coming forward, talking about his friend and colleague, Jerry Falwell. As you know, Jerry Falwell appearing a number of times on his show on CBN, "The 700 Club".

LEMON: Yes. And Kyra, this morning in the press conference, they asked about his -- how his family was doing, and the representative from the university there said they're doing as well as possible in these moments. Of course he leaves behind his wife, two sons and a daughter, very successful people.

His daughter is a surgeon, two of his sons are attorneys. And they're also on the board and work as executives at Liberty University there, so a very successful family.

Let's talk about his legacy and what he meant, especially to the political scene. And the person who can do that for us is our political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, just before that press conference -- sorry for cutting you off, but we wanted to get that -- we were talking about his power on the political front.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he organized a lot of the evangelical community and the Moral Majority in 1979. And when he was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, he made an interesting statement. He said we were driving into politics by the various court decisions and legislative actions that -- on issues like abortion rights and gay rights and women's rights, that he believed were very threatening to the evangelical community.

They essentially were mobilized into political action, because they objected to a lot of things, particularly things done by the federal courts in the name of liberation and social advancement that they found very threatening to their religious liberties. He brought that group, the evangelical group into politics, and I must say he had an able partner in Ronald Reagan when he was nominated for president in 1980.

He reached out to religious Americans, not just evangelicals, but he argued that the Republican Party would be welcoming to persons of faith who felt that faith was being driven out of the public sphere. And it was quite a marriage.

I remember going to the Republican convention in 1984, where Jerry Falwell was treated as a conquering hero. He had helped to make Reagan president. Reagan had brought him into political prominence. And I suppose the peak of his influence came 10 years later, when the Republicans took over Congress.

Jerry Falwell claimed a lot of credit for bringing some eight million new voters to the polls in that midterm election who had not voted in the previous midterm. A lot of them Christian conservatives, in that case angered by the record of President Bill Clinton.

LEMON: And Bill, all these people we see on the scene now, was he -- did he sort of make the way easier for them, all the political conservatives that we see who are very vocal and very much in the spotlight? How much did Jerry Falwell have to do with that?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he certainly helped bring a lot of religious conservatives into politics and into the world of political activism. A lot of evangelicals, a lot of religious people are more worried about another world than they are about this world, and their political activism has historically ebbed and flowed.

They were important, of course, in the past in things like the prohibition movement, even the anti-slavery movement back in the 19th century. But he did bring them in this new wave of political activism, driven by what he regarded as aggressive efforts by the courts and by the liberals to, again, threaten their personal religious liberty.

Now, of course, those issues have become very controversial. He has become intensely controversial.

You may remember in 2000, when John McCain first ran for president, he attacked Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, called them agents of intolerance.

LEMON: Right.

SCHNEIDER: And now, of course, the influence of that big Republican majority created under Ronald Reagan has diminished since last year's midterm, and also the role of the religious right, the Christian conservatives in the Republican Party, has become more controversial over time.

LEMON: CNN political analyst Bill Schneider.

Thank you, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Our own Roland Martin had a chance to actually interview Reverend Jerry Falwell recently.

Roland joins us now by phone.

Roland, did you interview him on your radio show?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, actually interviewed him for the "What Would Jesus Really Do?" special that aired on CNN on Good Friday last month.

PHILLIPS: So, tell me about your conversation. What stands out to you? What was the majority of your -- of your discussion?

MARTIN: Well, first and foremost, he talked about the whole issue of the war, how he believes there are just wars, that God does not necessarily -- that God is not pro-war.

It's interesting. We got into a conversation about the whole issue of people of faith being in politics. And he made a significant point.

He said, "I would rather have someone who is an atheist, frankly, but who understands national security, versus a Sunday schoolteacher who knows nothing about national security." And so he was talking -- he was really separating the two, saying, hey, you can be a great person of faith, but if you don't understand the world of terrorism and how to deal with that, you can't survive.

PHILLIPS: Interesting. And did you -- did you talk about the comments he had made after 9/11...

MARTIN: Say it again, Kyra? I'm sorry.

PHILLIPS: That's OK. I realize we have got you on a cell phone. Sometimes we...

MARTIN: I'm actually boarding a flight.

PHILLIPS: OK. You let me know when the doors shut, OK? I don't want you getting in any trouble.

His controversial comments after 9/11, talking about this was God's punishment to those that didn't -- that didn't follow the lord, but then later came forward saying that he apologized, blaming it on a lack of sleep, and that he's asking for forgiveness. And now he continues on with this conversation about security and terrorism.

I mean, did you see him completely taking an about-face on this issue? And did you discuss those comments that he made after 9/11?

MARTIN: No, we didn't get to those 9/11 comments. I wouldn't really call it a change of perspective. And again, I think you take any public figure who makes a comment one time, and then sort of pulls back another time, and so you sort of had that.

But you're dealing with somebody who also said, look, I'm 73 years old. You know, I've come a long way. And so you sort of have that. But again, I think the critical point is Reverend Jerry Falwell will soon be remembered as the father of this movement who represented so many different people. Maybe the generation today can't understand his power, but certainly between 1979 and the whole eight years Reagan was in office, a significant, significant influence.

Clearly controversial, clearly somebody who could really tick people off. I mean, there were people who sent us e-mails and said, "Oh my god. The moment I saw Reverend Jerry Falwell on the CNN special, I turned the channel." But then there were people who say he was a beloved figure.

And so he was certainly -- he was controversial in life. And he'll certainly be controversial in death.

PHILLIPS: Roland, real quickly, before you get on that flight, issues of diversity. Did you ever get into a discussion with him about that? How did he fell about preachers like T.D. Jakes, Paula White? Did he ever take a stand on issues of diversity in Christianity?

MARTIN: Well, we didn't speak to that particular issue in terms of the whole notion of diversity. Certainly what Bill Schneider just talked about, in terms of their concern about some of those court decisions, that was one of the issues.

Another piece that's critical is that -- who he galvanized were namely white evangelicals. African-Americans, of course, were significant in the civil rights movement, so they were always involved in the whole political process.

(INAUDIBLE) galvanized. And trust me, if you talk to Hispanic and African-Americans, they don't have the same deal (ph) with Jerry Falwell as white evangelicals. And so even though he was perceived as a Moral Majority Christian leader, there still was a separation of race when it came to that, because he leaned more to the Republican Party, versus in terms of taking a more independent view of politics.

PHILLIPS: Our Roland Martin.

Appreciate it, Roland. Thanks for talking to us before you board.

MARTIN: Thanks a lot.

LEMON: And we'll have continuing coverage throughout the day here on CNN on the death of Reverend Jerry Falwell, the man who founded the Moral Majority, a controversial and outspoken figure in politics and religion here in the United States.

Our Christiane Amanpour interviewed him very recently, and we're going to share some of that with you when we come back.

Jerry Falwell dead at the age of 73.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: We're going to continue to follow the death of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, but we want to take a look now at Wall Street.

Take a look at the Dow. Up 70 points. We're going to have a full report in the coming hours from our Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange.

PHILLIPS: And our Christiane Amanpour actually had one of the last interviews with Reverend Jerry Falwell. She was working on a documentary that's going to air in August called "God's Warriors". She spent time just one week ago at Liberty University with Reverend Falwell.

Here's part of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You've been at this, you created the Moral Majority just about 30 years ago. Did you imagine that you would become such an important figure, such an important force that presidential candidates would have to come here to be blessed?

FALWELL: When we started Moral Majority, we were novices. You could have gotten most of our preachers who were interested in public policy in a phone booth at the time. But it was an idea whose time had come.

No, we had -- none of us envisioned anything. We were simply driving into the -- into the process by Roe v. Wade, and earlier than that, the expulsion of God from the public square, prayer in schools, et cetera. We were motivated not to be politicians, but to try to put together people of faith in the country who would at least speak to the issues. I need about 20 more years to accomplish what my vision for the university is.

AMANPOUR: Twenty years?

FALWELL: I need at least another 20 years, so that's how I'm praying. In the bible there's a story of a guy named Hezekiah who was dying and he asked God for 15 additional years and he got it. Well I'm praying the same prayer with an option to renew.

AMANPOUR: And do you think you'll get it?

FALWELL: I don't know, but I certainly hope --

AMANPOUR: What do you want to do with those extra 20 years?

FALWELL: Well, we want a huge major evangelical Christian university. We're just starting our engineering school this fall. The law school graduates its first lawyers right now. We're starting a medical school about five years down the road. We have a 5,000-acre campus, and when I use the word "pit bull" I meant tenacious. We want young people who know what they believe, why they believe it. I believe America was built on the Judeo Christian ethic. I want to see the nation returned to the Judeo-Christian ethic. I am working very hard to overturn Roe v. Wade, bringing back to the states and get back to where we were in 1973.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that the religious right, your movement, will be able to do that? It's been a goal for the better part of the last 30-odd years.

FALWELL: I think the unborn are the last disenfranchised minority, and 30 years is just a drop in the bucket. I don't believe that I will live long enough to see -- after we overturn Roe v. Wade, we have 50 states that we must battle with.

AMANPOUR: There has been a new ruling that actually is in the direction that you're looking for.

FALWELL: Well it's taken us 30 years to get a 5-4 court on some kinds of abortions, partial-birth abortion is so barbaric that we got five votes. I don't think we have five votes on Roe v. Wade. I think we're probably one or two votes short and that may take another number of years before we have such a court, but we're committed to that task.

AMANPOUR: You know you caused a huge amount of controversy after 9/11 when you basically said that the lord was removing his protection from America.

FALWELL: I still believe that. I believe the country --

AMANPOUR: And that America probably deserved it?

FALWELL: Here's what I said, no, I said that the people who are responsible must take the blame for it.

AMANPOUR: You did, but you went on to say what I've just said.

FALWELL: We're killing a million babies a year in this country by abortion. Until two, three weeks ago, partial-birth abortion was legal in this country, barbarism. We are promoting a new definition for the family that allows for polygamy, for gay marriage, etcetera, we're promoting that, it's not there yet. And I was saying then, I'm saying now that if we in fact -- and I base this on Proverbs 14:34, if we decide to change all the rules on which this Judeo Christian nation was built, we cannot expect the lord to put his shield of protection around us as he has in the past.

AMANPOUR: So you still stand by that?

FALWELL: I stand right by it.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: There are a lot of people that stand right by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. We're going to talk to a member of the Family Research Council, a very influential political group in Washington, D.C., that worked closely with Jerry Falwell and what he believed in. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: We continue to remember the life and legacy of Dr. and Reverend Jerry Falwell. We've been talking about this for the past couple of hours now as we got word that the televangelist was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. CPR -- staff members from the college had been working on him all the way up to the hospital where his doctor held a news conference, believed that he actually did pass away there in his office at Liberty Hospital. He had been suffering from heart disease for many years. Also involved, as you know, in a tremendous number of organizations supporting the Christian right.

One of those organizations, the Family Research Council, we're joined now by Charmaine Yost out of Washington, D.C. And I guess Charmaine, maybe quickly, if you could just describe to our viewers, the Family Research Council and its purpose, and how you got connected with Reverend Falwell?

CHARMAINE YOST, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: We have been very honored to work with Dr. Falwell over the years. We're a conservative public policy organization based here in Washington, D.C. And we really stand on the work that Dr. Falwell pioneered in mobilizing Christians to speak out on public policy. That was one of his motivating passions.

Although I have to emphasize that one of the things that is the most admirable about Dr. Falwell is that he was first and foremost a pastor. He was committed to preaching God's word, preaching the love of God, and that motivated all of his activities. And with it we would all be able to finish as strongly as Dr. Falwell did.

PHILLIPS: And you talk about public policy and how he influenced that. What specifically did he do with your organization that you felt truly made an impact, something that the Family Research Council continues to lobby for and be involved with, because of him and his influence as a pastor and an educator?

YOST: Well, you know, in watching the clips that have been rolling of him speaking out, he was adamant about standing for the unborn and speaking out on behalf of pro-life principles. Even those who are detractors of Dr. Falwell emphasize the fact that he was a man of integrity and consistency, and real courage and bravery in taking a public stance in what he believed in.

So that's -- you know, that's very inspiring, to see that kind of consistency, and that willingness to take the slings and arrows of standing out in public life. He could be a lighting rod at times, but he was willing to take criticism. He was also willing to come back and explain. There were times when he was taken out of context, other times where he came back and said, well, you know I wish I had said something slightly differently. But he was in the end a man of integrity and a man committed to preaching God's word and preaching God's love across the spectrum of all people.

PHILLIPS: Charmaine Yost, Family Research Council. Appreciate you joining us today.

YOST: Thank you.

LEMON: Three U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq, their base at Ft. Drum, New York. The anxious wait for news on their loved ones, straight ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, these live pictures just into CNN. You're looking at pictures from Fanwood, New Jersey. Two people are trapped here, you can see rescue workers on the scene trying to get them out. Not exactly sure the situation of why they were trapped, but this is being reported again to us from WABC, it's in Fanwood, New Jersey, a developing story happening. It appears to be a rooftop that has collapsed here, possibly a construction site, not exactly sure. But as soon as we get more information into the CNN NEWSROOM, we're going to update you. But there you go, two people trapped. We're working on details of this developing story happening in Fanwood, New Jersey.

PHILLIPS: Other top stories today. Missing in Iraq, mourning back home. New developments now in that search for those three U.S. soldiers. You're looking at new video just into CNN of that search under way. The missing apparently kidnapped in the Saturday ambush that killed four of their comrades and as of now, we know the names of two of the fallen. Forty-year-old Sergeant First-Class James Connell of Lake City, Tennessee, a 17-year army veteran, and 19-year-old Private First Class Daniel Courneya from Vermontville, Michigan. He wanted to serve sine he was just a little kid. Just a little while ago they held a news conference at Ft. Drum. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fitzpatrick was the one that spoke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. COL. PAUL FITZPATRICK, ARMY PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER: Early Saturday morning at approximately 4:44 a.m. in Iraq, a combat element made up of seven soldiers of the 2nd brigade combat team, 10th mounted division and an Iraqi army interpreter were attacked by an unknown size element of Iraqi insurgents, about 12 miles west of Mahmoudiya, that's southwest of Baghdad, by a rocked-propelled grenade and heavy concentration of small arms fire. As a result of that attack, four of our soldiers and one Iraqi army soldier were killed in action, and three remain missing. Their status is currently listed as whereabouts unknown. The U.S. command in Iraq felt it necessary to withhold the identity of that unit involved in order to maintain as much operational flexibility as possible. Since that information has now been made public by the command, I can confirm that the U.S. soldiers killed, and those who remain as a status of whereabouts unknown are from the 4th battalion, 31st infantry, 10th mounted division, 2nd combat team, currently deployed to Iraq in support of "operation Iraqi freedom."

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: And we'll continue to follow all the developments in the search for those three missing U.S. soldiers. LEMON: We want to get back to the story we first broke right here in the CNN NEWSROOM just a couple of hours ago, the Reverend Jerry Falwell dying in his office in Virginia. We want to get to Delia Gallagher, she's our Faith & Values Correspondent and she joins us now. Delia, I want to ask you about legacy. There was so much positive and also a lot of controversy as well.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the legacy is clear, Don. I mean this was a man who, for the first time, brought the evangelical political agenda to the public. I mean he went from the pulpit to the corridors of Washington. Nowadays, we're used to talking about evangelicals and what they think about political issues, but Jerry Falwell was the first to do it. So certainly amongst the evangelical community there was really a lot of positive. You know they really felt that he represented them on issues, for example in school prayer, on abortion, Roe v. Wade, which is still something that is very important to the evangelical movement. So it's very clear that for them, you know, any negatives that might have been talked about in the press for Jerry Falwell, the positives outweighed it for the evangelical movement and for other Christians. You know I think that he was able to at least sort of tap into that kind of Christian sentiment for American politics. He let his voice be heard. He had a lot of influence in Washington. I mean, presidents, Republican and Democrat, went to him and sought his advice on things. So certainly he's had a lot of influence. I don't know if he'll have a successor or just one successor, I think he spawned a lot of successors within the evangelical movement who now feel that they have a right to make themselves heard on some of these issues, which by the way, are still the issues that he brought up, they're still talking about today.

LEMON: Faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher, thank you. We'll be following this story throughout the day and evening right here on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

PHILLIPS: Live pictures once again out of New Jersey. This is a building collapse that we've been following via our affiliate WABC out of New York. This is Fanwood, New Jersey. We can tell you right now two to three people trapped. They're working on taking them out as we speak. It's a commercial building, no details on what happened specifically. The building was not under construction. We'll continue to follow these live pictures. Try to bring you the information. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Let's go straight to the NEWSROOM, Betty Nguyen working details on a developing story. Betty?

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we've been watching this Kyra out of Fanwood, New Jersey, take a look. A building has collapsed there, a business. And we understand two people were trapped and if we can get those pictures up for you, we believe one person was just taken out of that collapsed building and put on a stretcher. Right there you see in the middle of your screen, that person is being treated by all the people around. Now we don't know what caused this commercial building to collapse in Fanwood, New Jersey. We don't have a whole lot of information about that. But what we do know is that it was not under construction, and at least two people were trapped because of this collapse. There is a lot of emergency crews on the scene. You see there is a backboard right there waiting for the other person to come out. And I see them working down in there. Hopefully we will see another person emerge from out of this collapsed building. Obviously they're trying to get these people out just as fast as possible. Again, this is in Fanwood, New Jersey, these are live pictures coming to us from WABC.

There's a whole handful of people on the ground. I mean you can see what a building collapse this is, Kyra, as you look at these pictures. Don't really know what sparked it, but the good news is at least one person has been taken out from this collapsed building and they are just working feverishly right now to get a second person from out of that rubble there. It looks like a really tight quarter obviously, because of the collapse. As soon as we can get some more information, we of course will bring it to you. But we want to stay on this and watch this for just a minute or two to see if we can see another person emerge. The big question for us, though, is what caused this collapse? Obviously this building -- I'm not -- it doesn't appear that it was under construction. According to information that we're getting, but just looking at the video here, what a collapse it is, you see all kinds of debris all around, which makes it very difficult for them to get in and get the person out. So, as soon as we get more information and if we see another person emerge, of course we'll bring it straight to you Kyra. But again, a building collapse in Fanwood, New Jersey, at least two people trapped, but right now it looks like one person has emerged, and another person, well that's who they're trying to get out at this point.

PHILLIPS: All right, Betty Nguyen, appreciate it.

LEMON: Missing in Iraq, mourning at home, new developments today in the search for three missing U.S. soldiers apparently abducted in a weekend ambush south of Baghdad. Four of their comrades were killed. Now here's what we know right now. All the soldiers are from Ft. Drum in upstate New York. The bodies of the slain soldiers are being returned to the U.S. today for DNA tests. And a U.S. military source tells CNN the ambush on their unit was planned, and a complex attack. Now also two of the slain soldiers have been identified, 19-year-old Private First Class Daniel Courneya from Vermontville, Michigan and 40-year-old Sergeant First Class James Connell from Lake City, Tennessee. Courneya's mother says she's sad, but she's also proud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDY THOMPSON, DANIEL COURNEYA'S MOTHER: She said, Daniel is dead, and I -- I just started screaming. Begging her to tell me it was a joke, just some stupid sick mother's day prank. And it wasn't. I'm more proud of Daniel now than I was the day I signed the papers and watched him take his oath.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Held captive in a war zone. It might be the worse thing a soldier can go through, well next to death. You fear for your life, worry about your loved ones back home and desperately hold out hope of rescue. Apache helicopter pilot Ron Young knows what that is all about. He and his copilot were held for 22 days early on in the Iraq war until they were rescued. CNN's Heidi Collins spoke to him earlier in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON YOUNG, FORMER POW: The mindset that I had, I had a reasonable expectation that I may come out of it alive, that there may be a prisoner exchange, especially after the first gulf war, Saddam definitely wasn't above doing something like that under certain circumstances. In this situation, there hasn't been an exchange like this. I mean you're talking about non-state terrorists actors and they're not beholden to a government or really even more than a religious philosophy at this point. So going into it and knowing what I knew, I think the situation would be even more terrifying than what I went through when it happened to me.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah in fact, you've mentioned before, that it seems like insurgents just kind of do whatever they want to do, who are they answering to now, this different factions, different groups sort of competing almost at times.

YOUNG: Exactly.

COLLINS: For whatever they're going to do to Americans.

YOUNG: And I think it's funny that the Iraqis -- I mean not the Iraqis, these terrorists, you know the groups, the al Qaeda in Iraq or whatever that claim to have these guys, I think it's funny that they're telling the American military guys not to come looking for them and they're going to kill these guys. I mean, have they shown that they're capable of anything else at this point?

COLLINS: Yeah, would they ever abandon a mission? That is very much against the creed of a soldier.

YOUNG: Absolutely not, exactly. And I wouldn't want if. I was one of the soldiers I would want them to come looking for me as hard as they possibly can. At least if they don't find me alive, at least put these guys to justice who were holding me, to find them and, you know, to carry on the mission.

(END OF VIDEO CLP)

LEMON: Well, Ron Young has since reenlisted in the army national guard and has been training to fly Blackhawk helicopters.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead the Reverend Jerry Falwell, remembering his life. He died today at the age of 73. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

LEMON: Hello, I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips. From the Baptist pulpit to presidential politics, Jerry Falwell made his mark on American ideals and culture for three decades.

LEMON: Today we remember Falwell, the preacher, the founder, the icon and the lightning rod as disciples and detractors alike mark his death at the age of 73. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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