The Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series, a literary juggernaut that brought end-times prophecy into mainstream bookstores, died Monday, the AP reports. He was 90. LaHaye died in a San Diego hospital days after having suffered a stroke, according to his publicist Johnnie Moore. Co-authored with Jerry B. Jenkins, the 16-volume Left Behind series sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, Moore said, and popularized a Bible interpretation that said born-again Christians will be instantly taken to God in the rapture, while those left behind on earth endure seven years of tribulation. LaHaye was a key figure in conservative political groups, encouraging the Rev. Jerry Falwell to create the Moral Majority and forming the Council for National Policy, a secretive strategy group for prominent political and religious conservatives.
Along with his wife, Beverly, he started Concerned Women for America in 1979, as an alternative to liberal feminist organizations. LaHaye was also a prolific nonfiction writer, writing more than 60 additional books, including the Christian sex manual The Act of Marriage. Born in 1926, LaHaye had a hardscrabble upbringing in Detroit, served in the Air Force at the end of World War II and graduated from Bob Jones University. He earned a midcareer doctorate at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., and joined the Southern Baptist Convention. LaHaye extended his influence by founding Christian high schools, San Diego Christian College, known formerly as Christian Heritage College, and a church in the Atlanta area, along with helping establish the Institute for Creation Research, which rejects evolution and contends God created the Earth recently in six literal days.