This afternoon I read a deeply disturbing article in the Washington Post. It was about Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University and the culture of fear that pervades it. From Jerry Falwell Jr leading a purge to get rid of Mark DeMoss to a university that gives out laptops that some people suspect has spyware on it so that the school can spy on people. I was deeply disturbed by what I read. This rose to the top of my articles to write about.
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
“Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”
How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!
Proverbs 16:16 NIV
It is time for Liberty students to make a break? Just as this East German solider is doing in Berlin in 1961?
When I was in college in Montana I was a history major. I took a class on Communist and Post Communist Thought. The class looked at the different kinds of Communist systems and how they varied. For example Soviet style Communism is different than how the Chinese practice Communism. We also looked at the struggles that took place for power after the Communists ascended and created the Soviet Union. It was part history and a lot of political philosophy. One of the stories I learned when I studied Soviet history is that of Nikolai Yezhov. Nikolai headed the NKVD of the Interior Ministry of the Soviet Union. Historians remember him for the Great Purge that happened between 1936 and 1938 of great political repression. It is estimated that close to 680,000 and 1,200,000 died in the purge. Nikolai was close to Joseph Stalin until he fell out of favor, and was eventually arrested and executed. History also remembers Yezhov as a prime example of how the Soviets edited out someone from history. Stalin ordered all pictures doctored and changed as he was being erased from the history of the Soviet Union. Why am I repeating all this, you’ll learn in a second. Nikolai Yezhov was on my mind this afternoon when I read a damning and deeply disturbing article in the Washington Post that concerned Jerry Falwell Jr and Liberty University. In the article it discussed how Jerry Falwell Jr led the purge at Liberty University to get rid of Mark DeMoss. Falwell even went so far in his contempt that he had DeMoss’s name removed from a building on campus. The article is called, “Inside Liberty University’s ‘culture of fear’” and is written by the former editor of the Liberty student run newspaper called The Champion.
In the article at The Washington Post it discusses some of the following issues in addition to the purging of Mark DeMoss.
- How Jerry Falwell Jr engaged in censorship at Liberty and how the student newspaper had to send over all articles to be approved before publication.
- How students at Liberty who work on the school newspaper need to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
- How Falwell created a “culture of fear’ that stifles academic freedom, and among professors that got much worse since the 2016 election.
- How any dissent was ruthlessly put down resulting in some people leaving.
- How the faculty are spiritually abused and how there is constant turnover and how Falwell exploits them.
- How Liberty uses Non-Disclosure Agreements against the staff by leveraging the professor’s ability to feed their family.
- How the university has done searches for professors who are “disloyal” to Jerry Falwell Jr or Liberty.
- The stifling of free speech among the student body on a number of issues.
- Threatening to use the Liberty Police to arrest those who come on campus who have different views than Jerry Falwell Jr.
- What ended students from running a newspaper was a controversial rally that Jerry Falwell Jr did not want to be covered by the Champion.
- One mention in the Washington Post included how a former instructor refused to use his Liberty laptop because it was believed that spyware was installed by Liberty to monitor that person. SERIOUSLY!?! And yet some of these same Christians will fan conspiracy theories online about the National Security Agency at Fort Meade engaging in spying?!? My God, I couldn’t believe that when I read that bit of information.
Honestly I have to say this…when I sat in a college classroom in Montana in the 1990’s and studied totalitarianism, fascism and Communism in the 20th century it was always in the context of the Soviet Union , Germany or world events. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that those lessons of issues of authoritarianism would ring loud in looking at modern evangelicalism. If you would have told me in the 1990’s that the lessons I was learning about Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union would apply to modern evangelicalism, I would have told you to stop using drugs. But here I am with story after story that deeply troubles me. What I read in today’s Washington Post descried something that was more akin to a cult. And that is not good at all. Again if you have not read the article you can do so in, “Inside Liberty University’s ‘culture of fear’”