Fear, Paranoia, Censorship and the Lack of Academic Freedom at Liberty University. A Deeply Disturbing Washington Post Article Raises Many Questions About this Evangelical University

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.”

George Orwell 

“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.”

George Orwell

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. 

  1. 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. 
  2. How students at Liberty who work on the school newspaper need to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. 
  3. How Falwell created a “culture of fear’ that stifles academic freedom, and among professors that got much worse since the 2016 election.
  4. How any dissent was ruthlessly put down resulting in some people leaving.
  5.  How the faculty are spiritually abused and how there is constant turnover and how Falwell exploits them. 
  6. How Liberty uses Non-Disclosure Agreements against the staff by leveraging the professor’s ability to feed their family.  
  7. How the university has done searches for professors who are “disloyal” to Jerry Falwell Jr or Liberty.  
  8. The stifling of free speech among the student body on a number of issues.
  9. Threatening to use the Liberty Police to arrest those  who come on campus who have different views than Jerry Falwell Jr. 
  10. What ended students from running a newspaper was a controversial rally that Jerry Falwell Jr did not want to be covered by the Champion.  
  11. 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’” 

 

15 thoughts on “Fear, Paranoia, Censorship and the Lack of Academic Freedom at Liberty University. A Deeply Disturbing Washington Post Article Raises Many Questions About this Evangelical University

  1. Do you believe everything that you read from the Washington COMPOST? Do they not have a BAD reputation with ANY Christian? They would call JESUS a liar and a cheat and a thief, all because Judas was a MEMBER of his inner circles.

    This is what journalism has become. NO INTERVIEWS with Jerry at all. In other words, no one is interested at getting to the truth, cuz the lies of scandals is what sells.

    Ya ever read the Huffington Post? Christian bashers by LEFT WING academic religious scholars that contradict each other, and badmouth Christians and Jews all the time.

    NO ONE can believe the press anymore. And this is why. Bash the GOOD PEOPLE and praise ANTIFA for wearing BLACK masks and using weapons against LAW ABIDING CITIZENS, all because they (antifa) doesn’t like the 10-15 white supremacists that America has left. But they hate the Jews…go figure!!!!

    Oh, and who was that Rock Band that sung FREE-BIRD? What was that flag that they touted? Were they white supremists? Hell no. That flag, to them, signified SOUTHERN ROCK, which goes to show that it had nothing to do with racism with them. And to a lot of people, it’s the same.

    People will fight others for no reason, and badmouth them, etc., all because they bear the name of Jesus.

    This is why INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty is supposed to be the default, not guilty before trial.

    No cross examination? No interviews? Accusations equals guilt? Now, isn’t that how the communists do it?

    Ed Chapman

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  2. You do realize that virtually all secular universities do exactly the same thing and it’s 1000 times more dangerous because there a thousand times more of them…

    WaPo is a joke of an organization but even if I accept their article as true, maybe they should report on what’s happening on every campus in the United States and not singling our the ONE right leaning university where censorship etc are on the rise.

    Have you reported on Berkeley for instance or Harvard? Yale? All of them…

    Nope, you choose to report on one Christian University and take WaPo word for it…OoooooK 👌

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    • I like your handle, Israel. We all are Israel in that sense, wandering the desert. I’m curious, tho, if your real name might be Jacob? That question is a curious rhetorical one, but I like getting deep in spiritual matters, and wrestledwithgod is one of those, in that this is the life of a Christian, and people seem to think that we are supposed to be goody two shoes, thereby proclaiming that we are hypocrites, etc. No, we are just human doing things that does not please God, just like the next guy. But in our struggle (wrestle), we know that God has our back in the end, when we PREVAIL (the latter part of the bible definition of Israel). Struggles with God and prevails, Israel.

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    • Thanks for the comment. If Berkeley or Yale influence Christian culture then they should be looked at. I work with the information as l come across it. The writer of the article in the WaPo is a good source as he was the last editor of The Champion. That gives what the Post reported even more credibility. I know many evangelicals create their own facts, and thus bubbles but l stick to the information at hand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Biased information is what you use, tho. Besides, if the students don’t like it, they can leave. Or is that a racist comment?

        The author of that article is a Trump hater, and that’s all this is about. He’s disgruntled. His rant cannot be taken seriously.

        Ed Chapan

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      • You didn’t know that Yale began it’s existence as a Christian school?

        I suppose you didn’t know that Christians attend Berkley, either? So, it’s ok if Christians get treated poorly, whether it be from Berkley or from Antifa? Cuz they DESERVE IT, right? Just for being EVANGELICALS that support Trump!

        That’s the bias that STINKS. And that’s why this article is biased, the hatred towards Christians.

        I highly doubt that the author of the article is a Christian, and if that be the case, he doesn’t belong there.

        Ed Chapman.

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      • Assuming for the moment WaPo’s facts are correct, that really wasn’t my point. While any censorship on college campuses should concern us all, the systematic censorship of conservative views that is clearly happening everywhere is downright frightening. And yet, WaPo chooses to run their article on a private institution who can censor whatever they want in my view.

        As you are solidly on the left based on many of the viewpoints I have seen expressed on your website, you seem to not see the terrible danger that is occurring on state college campuses seemingly everywhere. The mostly left wing press,led by the NYT and WaPo (among many others) decided to write about a little pimple called Liberty University—-again, a private institution—-instead of reporting on the grapefruit sized tumor that is truly occurring on campuses everywhere (and on social media and big Tech as well). Namely, the censorship of anything that is viewed as conservative.

        Choosing to write about Liberty just seems to completely miss the point of a MASSIVE story that isn’t being reported because the MSM is a wing of the Politburo.

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      • Wrestled, let me ask you a question. Jesus said that he is the way and the truth and the life. To be engaged in truth is to be committed to facts. And yet at many evangelical organizations they often create and make up their own facts. Can it be said that those who do so reject what Jesus taught about truth? The truth emerges as it always will but some of these entities work hard to try and suppress it. As for me to be a leftist you are free to say what you want. I don’t practice censorship as your posts prove that aspect, and I encourage all commenting. However, one problem is that when one is so far off the spectrum the question must be raised what is a leftist? I actually voted conservative most of my life, but I embrace the conservative doctrine that also is supported by the enlightenment and Jeffersonian values. Your view of conservative is Christian Nationalism, which I categorically reject. But to get back to what you are saying about censorship, it amazes me that a post will be published, article written and yet people will talk about persecution by the “liberal” press and scream of censorship. Jerry Falwell Jr can practice censorship all day and every day and you will defend his right to practice censorship. So if you want to take up the issue of censorship let’s deal with those issues at Liberty and find new news sources that actually are conservative and not populist or illiberal.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the larger issue here is one of hypocrisy. If Liberty wants to strictly police and control the content of its student newspaper and the publicly expressed views of its student population, then they should just be up front about it and acknowledge that is their policy. But instead the institution touts itself as being accepting of varied opinions when in fact it is anything but.

    And the dialogue here kind underscores the situation these days: “Anything who says anything I disagree with is obviously lying (and intentionally and maliciously doing so), is clearly the enemy, is clearly not one of “Us,” and should be slapped down.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave H,

      Well, while you guys are all condemning policy, I condemn the author of the article, and why? The Bible tells us to OBEY those who are over us, not as man pleasers, but because it’s the right thing to do. If he disagrees with his boss in the PRIVATE organization, he’s FREE TO LEAVE and get another job elsewhere. Respect your elders. There is a boss, and and the other guy is a subordinate.

      But due to the tone of the author of the article, I highly doubt that he’s being truthful. It’s a one sided argument, DUE TO Trump being president, where the other side has not been given a chance for redress.

      Who’s the boss vs who’s the employee? Who sets the rules, vs who is to obey the rules? If he doesn’t like the rules, then what? He’s free to leave. I don’t see anything as a violation of policy, or even this guy as some kind of hero whistle-blower. Someone peed in his Cheerios, and he got butt hurt. Whooptidoda. He needs to grow up, cuz Trump is President and he doesn’t like it. Give the guy a Kleenex and be done with it!

      Ed Chapman

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      • Ed, I agree that the boss is free to set the rules, particularly in a private institution such as Liberty. The point I was making is that it is hypocrisy when the boss proclaims one set of rules to the world (our campus community has great freedom to express diverse opinions), but then in practice enforces a different set of rules (no one may express or publish any criticism of or disagreement with the current political leadership, or the college leadership).

        If your viewpoint truly is “the boss sets the rules, if people don’t like it, they are free to leave,” then why do you protest so strongly about the exact same dynamic in reverse, when conservatives are hushed in liberal institutions? When this dynamic occurs in liberal institutions, conservatives rush to the President to get executive orders which demand they can voice their viewpoint, in the name of “free speech.” That suggests that your outrage is highly selective, based not upon principle but rather on mere partisanship. It should be that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

        Regarding the column, the “other side” was indeed given a “chance for redress,” and simply refused to provide comment, which was clearly noted in the column: “Huff and the police department declined to comment on the contents of this essay. Falwell and the university did not respond to multiple requests for comment.”

        But I suppose my thoughts here are all moot anyway since you outright dismiss as “fake news” every single story which does not confirm your political/social views. In this instance, “the author is not a Trump supporter” is, from your statements, apparently sufficient evidence in and of itself for you to conclude that (a) he is outright lying, (b) the corroborating statements and events in his column have all been fabricated, and (c) he is almost certainly not a “real” Christian, and in fact, he hates Christians.

        Anything I say here is a waste of breath in the end, because it presumes intentions of a good faith dialogue which does not exist. I recognized this months ago but, against my better judgment, chose to engage in on this particular occasion. I now withdraw from the “conversation” again.

        I talk to the wind
        My words are all carried away
        I talk to the wind
        The wind does not hear
        The wind cannot hear.

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      • I appreciate your comment to me regarding an alleged hypocrisy from me. But it’s not. This guy begins his article that he took it upon himself to do something he was not authorized to do. So, in the beginning, he was in the wrong. He overstepped his boundary, and he didn’t care. In regards to other colleges, it’s a different topic, as far as I can see. To me, this particular blog post has nothing to do the squelching or limiting free speech. That’s his accusation, but not my conclusion. This guy is just a kid. A recent graduate. He thinks he knows it all, but he’s still wet behind the ears. He wasn’t alive when Ronald Reagan was president. This kid barely knows where the bathroom is, let alone Iran, etc. He’s got a lot of learning to do about life before he goes lecturing people about life. His anger is not about free speech. That’s a lure. It’s about Trump.

        Ed Chapman

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      • In the old days, not long ago, prominent newspapers would endorse a candidate in the editorial section of the newspaper. If he was an employee of that newspaper, and the editor endorsed a candidate that he hated…he’d be doing the same thing he’s doing now. And with his attitude, I wouldn’t be surprised if he, like the old saying goes, go postal, and kill a bunch of employees, namely, the editor. He’s angry cuz Liberty endorsed Trump, and he doesn’t.

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    • Dave,
      ChapmanEd24 is this blog’s regular Trump-Fanatic troll. From the speed at which he swings into action, I suspect he’s camping out here, sniffing for any Blasphemy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • HUG has never heard of King David, an adulterer before, or the Apostle Paul, a murderer, either. My my, how God picks some real winners, doesn’t he? Why can’t God pick SELF RIGHTEOUS men instead? Always choosing LOSERS, with some serious ethics problems.

        Ed Chapman

        Like

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