Paul Weyrich, one of the 20th century's strongest advocates for conservative causes, died early Thursday morning at age 66. The cause of death was not immediately known, but he had been in declining health for several years.
"American families have lost one of their staunchest and most effective advocates," said Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family. "Had there been no Paul Weyrich, there would be no conservative movement as we know it."
Weyrich was the first to head the powerful Washington, D.C.-based think-tank The Heritage Foundation, which he co-founded in the 1970s. Some consider his forerunner work behind the scenes then as preparation for President Reagan's popular two terms in office.
Weyrich was also chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, a Washington think-tank focused heavily on cultural conservatism. He is credited with coining the phrase "moral majority" in a conversation with the late Jerry Falwell, who later used the term to name his politically powerful lobbying group.
Weyrich and Falwell are considered two of the key architects of what later became known as the Religious Right.
"Moral courage was a defining trait of Paul himself," said Ed Feulner, current president of The Heritage Foundation. "A political animal of the highest order, he always chose principle over any temporary 'strategic' abandonment of principle designed to win some transitory political victory. This moral courage was matched with the physical courage he displayed in the face of physical disability in his later years."
"Paul was one of the giants of the conservative movement—a man committed to family, faith, and preserving and expanding freedom both here in America and around the world," said Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner. "His passing is a great loss for conservatism, and for our country."
Weyrich's four decades of advocacy for cultural morality and conservative policies gained him a reputation for preaching traditional values and acting with uncompromising passion. "Was he easy to deal with? Not always," said Phil Truluck, executive vice president of The Heritage Foundation. "Would he tell you the truth if you liked it or not? Absolutely. Was he steadfast to his principles and his love for this country and his family? Without a doubt."
True to a legacy of prolific influence, Weyrich wrote conservative commentary until the end of his life. "The Next Conservatism, A Serious Agenda for the Future" was published online on Thursday, Dec. 18.
In the late-1990s, Weyrich conceded that politics would not solve the problem of morality, after conservatives appeared to have accomplished most of what they had set out to achieve, including a 1994 revolution in Congress led by Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America."
"I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics," Weyrich wrote in a letter to his supporters in 1999, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Feulner believes Weyrich will be remembered by the conservative movement as a visionary and a leader. "America is a better and stronger country because of his contributions. He will be sorely missed," he said.
Weyrich is survived by his wife, Joyce, and five children. —Paul Steven Ghiringhelli
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.
It's a NEW YEAR! Get ready for a NEW YOU!
- New Year Discounts On Book Bundles & Gifts: Click Here to view all our bundles and save up to 72%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
- Go Deeper with God in a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all eight of our free courses. Topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
- Anointed Woman Of God: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
- Never Stop Praying - Prayer Changes Everything! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
- New Year - New You - Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!
Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for two years for Only $29.97 and get two free gifts. Gift #1 The Harbinger. Gift #2 The Harbinger II. Both books are by New York Times Best-Selling author Jonathan Cahn. View Offer