The Rev. Charles Stanley, an influential Baptist pastor who for more than 50 years preached a conservative message from his Atlanta megachurch, through an extensive network of television and radio stations, and in many books, died on Tuesday at his home in Atlanta. He was 90.
In Touch Ministries, Dr. Stanley’s nonprofit organization, announced his death but did not state a cause.
As the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. Stanley was known as one of the leading American preachers of his time, alongside figures like the Rev. Billy Graham. He was also a board member of the Moral Majority, the right-wing religious organization, and a close friend of its founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
“Evangelicals just loved him,” Barry Hankins, a professor of history at Baylor University who, with Thomas Kidd, wrote “Baptists in America” (2015), said in a phone interview. “He was a very winsome preacher. He didn’t exude the hard fighting edge that conservatives sometimes did.”
Dr. Stanley built a significant national profile through his church and his television ministry, and in 1984 he was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
He brought staunch beliefs — among them that the Bible was infallible and that women should not be ordained — to a continuing battle over control of the convention between conservatives, who were in ascent, and moderates.
In his first year as president, Dr. Stanley backed measures within the convention to stop churches from ordaining women. By 1984, Christian Today magazine reported, the convention had ordained more than 200 women.
“The Bible does not forbid women from preaching,” Dr. Stanley said at the time. “The issue is authority, not service. Role, not work.”
Dr. Stanley was re-elected in 1985 with a record turnout of the convention’s delegates, extending the denomination’s conservative resurgence.
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