Jerry Falwell Jr of Liberty University has been in the news frequently. From his comments to David Platt to news of his illicit pictures which the Miami Herald possess. The question needs to be asked…will the Board at Liberty fire Jerry Falwell Jr?
“Manipulations of opinion, insofar as they are inspired by well-defined interests, have limited goals; their effect, however, if they happen to touch upon an issue of authentic concern, is no longer subject to their control and may easily produce consequences they never foresaw or intended.”
“The Lord will vindicate me;
your love, Lord, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.”
Psalm 138:8 NIV
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Jerry Falwell Jr has been in the news quite a bit recently. Due to events I figured it was time to do another post about Falwell and Liberty. Its this blog’s belief that the next time there is a stand off between the federal government and some extremists that at one point that will happen at Liberty University. Yes, its my belief that the next Waco or Ruby Ridge will take place in Lynchburg, Virginia when you consider the bubbled evangelical, paranoid culture at Liberty University. You can read more in, “Liberty University Opens a “State-of-the-Art” Gun Range. Given how some Evangelicals can be Intensely Paranoid Could a Waco or Ruby Ridge Situation Develop One Day in Lynchburg, Virginia?” But let’s look at all the issues that have put Jerry Falwell Jr in the news recently. Note Jerry Falwell Jr blocked me a few years ago when I asked a couple of direct questions. So I can’t insert screenshots into the post today.
Telling David Platt to Grow a Pair of Balls….
In early June of 2019 you had the controversy of Donald Trump visiting David Platt’s McLean Bible. David Platt prayed for him and then following the event put out a statement that he didn’t mean to come across as embracing a political party. I did a write up about the situation at McLean Bible which you can read in, “Donald Trump Visits McLean Bible. How Do You Pray for a President? Contrasting David Platt vs. Franklin Graham.” After that apology by David Platt, Jerry Falwell Jr took to Twitter and told David Platt that he needed to grow a pair of balls. The exact wording was, “Sorry to be crude but pastors like @plattdavid need to grow a pair. Just saying https://t.co/DA4eCKhs1v“Then he deleted his Tweet but the point was taken. It generated a lot of criticism. Why was the leader of the largest evangelical acting so crudely? You can read more about this in the following articles.
- Relevant “Jerry Falwell Jr. Tweeted a Crude Message to David Platt Following Trump Drama”
- Relevant “Update: Jerry Falwell Jr. Deleted His Vulgar Tweet to David Platt.”
- Washington Times, “Jerry Falwell Jr. deletes tweet telling Va. pastor David Platt to ‘grow a pair’“
- John Fea, “Jerry Falwell Jr., President of a Christian University, Tells David Platt to “Grow a Pair”
Did Jerry Falwell Manufacture Illicit Pictures/Pornography With his Wife? Is that the Liberty Way?
Then the next item is particularly juicy. This one got the attention of many atheists and secular humanists. Its my understanding that the honor code at Liberty is called The Liberty Way. Its a very legalistic code of rules that mandate no drinking, what dress can be like, no pornography, drug testing, what relationships between two sexes can be like, and more. It is known for its very extreme and draconian ways. You can read more about The Liberty Way in, “Liberty University’s “The Liberty Way” exposed.”
In May of 2019 Reuters broke a sensational story. The news agency claimed that Jerry Falwell Jr used Michael Cohen to obtain illicit pictures. Cohen is serving prison for tax, bank and campaign finance crimes plus lying to Congress if my memory serves me correct. In 2015 Cohen sought out the racy pictures of Jerry Falwell Jr and his wife. You can read the original report in, “Exclusive: Trump fixer Cohen says he helped Falwell handle racy photos.” Then came the story of an alleged pool boy as well which the New York Times reported on, I will have that below. The situation with the illicit pictures became more serious when the Miami Herald reported that they had those pictures in their possession. The pictures showed Falwell’s wife in various states as she undressed. You can read that Herald article in, “How cut-rate SoBe hostel launched Jerry Falwell Jr. ‘pool boy’ saga, naked picture hunt.”
Here is a question I would like to ask. Did Jerry Falwell Jr and his wife manufacture pornography? How would pornography be defined? Would semi nude to nude pictures qualify as pornography? The question begs to be asked…what would happen if a married couple or staff would make some illicit pictures while at Liberty? What would the fine be in such a situation? Would Liberty be forgiving and show grace? Or would they expel and fine the person or couple who did that? Its this blog’s belief that the Falwell’s made pornography. This raises a lot of ethical questions which the Religious News Service looked at in, “Did Jerry Falwell’s personal photos violate Christian sexual codes?” Perhaps the question should be is making pornography now a part of the Liberty Way? And I am wondering how the pornography industry will respond to this story with Jerry Falwell Jr. Part of me hates to even put Jerry Falwell Jr and the pornography industry in the same sentence. That is deeply unfair to the pornography industry which has more ethics, integrity and character than Jerry Falwell Jr. But can you imagine the pornographic picture titles that can be made? The industry would have a field day! They could do titles such as, “The Liberty Way” , “My Christian Faith and the Pool Boy” , “Michael Cohen Does Lynchburg” , “Covefe and Me” or “Jerry Fallwell Jr’s Deep Penetration.” I could go on but I will leave it there. These are more of the articles about the situation with Jerry Falwell Jr and the illicit pictures if you want to read more.
- New York Times, “The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen.”
- Steve Weldman in the Washington Post, “What happened to U.S. evangelical leaders? In early America, they were our freedom fighters.”
- MSNBC, “Following ‘racy photos’ report, Falwell has some explaining to do”
- Daily Mail, “Michael Cohen reveals he foiled ‘blackmail plot’ against Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife over ‘terrible’ racy photos – just before evangelical leader endorsed Trump for president.”
- Relevant Magazine, “What’s the Real Connection Between Jerry Falwell Jr. and Michael Cohen?”
- Rolling Stone, “The Saga of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Bizarre Relationship With a Miami Beach Pool Boy, Explained.”
- Politico, “My Weekend at the Falwells’ South Beach Flophouse.”
- The Friendly Atheist, “Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s “Pool Boy” Scandal May Explain His Endorsement of Trump.”
Declining Enrollment and Cuts to the Theology Department
Inside Higher Ed also broke a story that I would think more people would have been concerned about. Inside Higher Ed is an online newspaper that writes about higher education and the issues happening today. In June of 2019 the online newspaper wrote about deep cuts to Liberty’s theology department. You can read the original article in, “Cuts at Liberty Hit Divinity.” What has happened is that a dozen faculty members at Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity are being let go. According to my research the theology program is the biggest program on the campus. Freshman application plunged in 2016. Plus online enrollment fell by 10% from 2014 through 2018. Those staff leaving are being forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. In talking about how people were terminated the following description was reported in the newspaper. “I was brought into a room and informed that my position is being terminated (along with those of 11 other faculty in the School of Divinity) as part of a ‘restructuring’ of the SOD,” read one post from a longtime faculty member. “When I asked what the criteria were for terminating my particular position, I was not told what the criteria were but what they weren’t. My position was not terminated based on performance, ethics, student feedback or anything personally related to me or how I impacted the university.”
Andy Rowell of Bethel University in Saint Paul Asks When Will Liberty Move to Fire Jerry Falwell Jr?
While all these problems are ongoing I have noticed something on Twitter. More people are starting to ask when will Liberty University fire Jerry Falwell Jr? When will the Board move against him? Andy Rowell teaches at Bethel Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Andy started to ask, when will Liberty move against Jerry Falwell Jr? You can see the Tweets below.
Why Would Anyone Go to Liberty? Why Should Liberty be Respected? Why Should Anyone Who Attended Liberty be Respected?
For years I have long wondered why Liberty University is respected. Its not a new problem but an old one. When the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks happened three days later Jerry Falwell Sr went on Pat Robertson’s show and blamed the terrorist attacks on gays, atheists, People for the American Way, the ACLU and liberals. I recall being a grad student at Marquette University watching that in horror. At the time I led a Campus Crusade for Christ chapter and was evangelizing and trying to get people involved in Crusade. Falwell’s comments brought about questions and I was associated with that fundamentalism. When Jerry Falwell Sr died to be honest I was quite grateful. It baffled me to watch the news and see people praise Falwell and then think of the clips about September 11, 2001 attacks and other outrageous comments that were made. When Jerry Falwell Sr died I thought society improved a little bit and the air became cleaner. I was un-prepared for his son and did not know that he would be much worse.
So here we are 12 years after Jerry Falwell Sr’s death and we have Liberty even being more politicized than it was beforehand. For me I remain baffled as to why anyone would want to attend Liberty University. What good comes out of it? What quality comes out of it? Do you get an education or a brainwashing? Is it an actual school or an up and coming Jonestown in Virginia? I would think of people I interacted with who went to Liberty such as Tim Wilson from Redeemer Arlington, or Derek the small group leader from my last church. I used to be baffled when I heard my former small group leader talk about how wonderful Liberty is and then I would think of Jerry Falwell Jr’s behavior on social media and ask myself privately. Is ______ and I on the same planet? Are we breathing the same air?
And that is something that I need to say. This blog has no respect for Liberty University. If anything because of how political it is I deeply distrust it. I think of the problems and issues that come from Liberty. But I also ask..why go to Liberty when you have schools like Trinity International University, Bethel, Fuller, BIOLA, Wheaten, and so many others. I wonder how many Liberty grads are afraid to mention where they attended school and stay quiet about their experience. I don’t understand why Liberty or anyone who wants to attend there should be taken seriously. And many will struggle with this but its time to be honest. The issues with Jerry Falwell Jr can’t be ignored. It makes me ask when will the Board at Liberty fire and force Jerry Falwell Jr into retirement. Its time that this happen. If alumni want to redeem themselves they can start by asking Jerry Falwell Jr to resign. The complacency needs to be addressed. In closing this out since Jerry Falwell Jr has made illicit pictures (or pornography) maybe Jerry Falwell Jr can do a strip tease singing Right Said Fred’s I’m too sexy. Whenever that happens, or if that happens, please Lord for the sake of my mental health may I not see the picture! I don’t want to be psychologically damaged for life!