The Moral Majority is no longer in existence as an organization, but its message lives on in the words of its founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who last week endorsed the reelection bid of his old friend, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). He called Helms "a very special man {who} fights with his every breath to stop those who work to tear down the moral fiber of our country."

"It's no coincidence that as we have turned away from the faith of our fathers, our society has been overrun with the pain of crime, drugs, pornography, AIDS, homosexuals demanding the right to marry," Falwell said.

Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority in 1979 to promote "family values" and to bolster conservative political efforts, disbanded the organization last year with a vow to stay out of politics.

In a fund-raising appeal on Helms's behalf, Falwell suggests that Helms's Democratic challenger, Harvey Gantt, is backed by groups cited in his letter.

"The Human Rights Campaign Fund, the political committee of the homosexual activists, which has more than $1 million in their liberal war chest, declared, 'We need to see that the word former comes in front of Jesse Helms's name after Nov. 6,' " Falwell wrote.

"Molly Yard, of the radical feminist National Organization for Women, is distributing bumper stickers in Jesse's home state saying, 'Oink if you love Jesse,' " Falwell added.

Further underscoring the conservative-liberal contrast that has been fundamental to Helms's strategy, his campaign last week began airing a television commercial that pits his support of the death penalty against liberal opposition to it.

The ad, which does not mention Gantt by name, features footage of President Bush's appearance with Helms at a Charlotte fund-raiser last month. "Liberals opposed the death penalty," Bush says in the ad. "Where does Jesse stand? Where I do. We want to eliminate the loopholes that allow . . . the worst criminals to escape just punishment."