JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Rev. Don Wildmon has resigned as chairman of the American Family Association, a Christian political movement he founded that now boasts millions of followers in a fight against what it considers indecency.
Wildmon, 72, said Wednesday his resignation follows months of health problems, including hospitalizations for treatment of encephalitis, which he got from a mosquito bite, and cancer on his left eye.
Wildmon told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that his son, Tim, is expected to lead the ministry. Don Wildmon said he will continue to work at AFA, but not in a leadership role.
"I just figured the time has come. I'm still in rehab learning to walk again. My mind is not working the way it used to, if it ever did," he said with a laugh.
Wildmon, a retired Methodist minister, founded the group in 1977 in his Tupelo home as the National Federation for Decency, promoting family values and waging boycotts to combat what it deemed pornography and violence on television and in magazines.
The group changed its name in 1988 to the American Family Association. It has grown to an organization with a $20-million budget, 180 radio stations, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 170,000 and an internet presence of more than 2 million supporters, AFA said in a news release.
AFA's boycotts led to several major convenience and drugstore chains — including 7-Eleven, Stop-n-Go, Rev-Co and Eckerd — pulling Playboy, Penthouse and other adult magazines from their shelves.
"What I'm most of proud of, I can't put my finger on. I just hope we made society a better place," Wildmon said. "If I've done any good, good. If I've done anything wrong, I ask people to forgive me."