Liberty University is back in the news. As the COVID-19 virus grows in both Liberty and Lynchburg, Virginia the New York Times has reported that Jerry Falwell Jr allegedly left a voicemail that could be interpreted as threatening their reporter shortly before midnight. Liberty has also engaged in a propaganda campaign that triggered a response from U.C.L.A and Virginia Tech. And finally a Liberty University student filed a class action lawsuit against the school saying that Liberty was profiting off a pandemic in refusing to reimburse people.
“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.“
Edgar Allen Poe
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Romans 10:9 NIV
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Bill Maher on why Liberty University is not a real school.
This is an update to the ongoing issues at Liberty University. In the Lynchburg, Virginia area as well as Liberty University COVID-19 infections are up ticking. Its against all this that there has been a lot of news regarding Jerry Falwell Jr.
Warrants Issued by Liberty Police for Two Journalists. And Did Jerry Falwell Jr Allegedly Threaten a New York Times Reporter in a Late Night Call?
Falwell Jr has tried to have journalists arrested as he claims that he is being persecuted and unfairly maligned. The warrants come from the school’s police department and are for two journalists who reported on how students were brought back on campus after spring break in the COVID-19 pandemic. The two warrants are for Julia Rendleman, a freelance photographer for the Times, and Alec MacGillis, a ProPublica reporter. Falwell is claiming that he was defamed. If you want to read more about this you can do so in the following articles.
- Politico, “Jerry Falwell Jr. says warrants are out for 2 journalists after critical stories on coronavirus decision.”
- The Hill, “Liberty University police issue arrest warrants for NYT, ProPublica reporters.”
- Business Insider, “The arrest warrants Jerry Falwell Jr. says have been issued for 2 journalists came from Liberty University’s police department.”
- Vanity Fair, “Jerry Falwell Jr. Apparently Thinks It’s Criminal to Report on Liberty University.”
While this was going on the New York Times reported something that is even more troubling. This information which comes from the New York Times does not say when this exactly happened. Jerry Falwell Jr allegedly called a Times reporter shortly before midnight and left a voicemail saying, “your in serious trouble.” He accused the Times journalist of putting Liberty students at risk claiming they traveled from New York City to Lynchburg, Virginia. That claim was made up and is false as the Times reporter did not travel to the area. The New York Times legal counsel David McCraw has responded to Falwell. This is what they said. “Julia was engaged in the most routine form of news gathering: taking pictures for a news story,” Mr. McCraw said in a statement. “We are disappointed that Liberty University would decide to make that into a criminal case and go after a freelance journalist because its officials were unhappy with press coverage of the university’s decision to reopen campus in the midst of the pandemic.”
Liberty Compares Itself to U.C.L.A. and Other Schools in a Propaganda Campaign and Triggers a Response
In response to the press coverage over the COVID-19 pandemic Liberty University engaged in a propaganda campaign in the local press that compared their response to U.C.L.A., Virginia Tech, Texas A & M and Arizona State University. For example look at the ad below that was run in the Roanoke Times.
The advertisement brought out a response from U.C.L.A. and Virginia Tech who stated that the number of on campus students after spring break was inflated and inaccurate. Tracy Vosbough who is the vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech pointed out that the true number of students at Tech was 483 and not 900. She reached out to Liberty on April 9, 2020 and asked the university to correct the information. Liberty did not respond or make the change from my understanding. U.C.L.A. also pointed out that Liberty was not accurate with the facts as well. U.C.L.A. spokesman Steve Ritea made a similar point: Liberty University “inaccurately projected that 20 percent of our student population remained on campus after spring break,” he said. “In fact, that percentage is in the low single digits.” In contrast officials at Arizona State and Texas A&M said the numbers in the Liberty ad were correct. If you want to read more about this you can do so in, “Falwell Focuses on Critics as Coronavirus Cases Near His University Grow.”
A Liberty Student Initiates a Class Action Lawsuit
The last development that needs to be reported is that a Liberty student initiated a class action lawsuit against the university. The plaintiff is referred to as “Student A” is represented by a team of attorneys from DiCello Levitte Gutzler of Chicago, Matthew S. Miller of Chicago and Michie Hamlett PLCC of Charlottesville, Virginia. The lawsuit was filed on April 14, 2020. The lawsuit accuses Liberty of profiting off a pandemic by refusing to offer refunds for housing, dining and other costs. From what I have read I believe all other universities in Virginia gave refunds to students that were sent home. The lawsuit argues that while Liberty moved classes online and shuttered campus services in repose to the coronavirus pandemic the school kept residence halls open to justify not offering reimbursements. “Liberty’s decision to tell its students that they could remain on campus to continue to use their housing, meal plans, parking, and the benefits of the services and activities for which their fees paid, was not only illusory and empty — because there were no more on-campus classes — but it was also extremely dangerous and irresponsible,” the complaint said.
Jerry Falwell Jr has vowed to fight the lawsuit. If you want to read more you can do so in, “Liberty University student sues school, demands refunds after coronavirus pandemic shutters much of campus.”
Analysis and Closing Thoughts
This has been a busy week for Liberty. The greatest tragedy is that Jerry Falwell Jr. will learn painfully that the COVID-19 virus does not care if you are Baptist or Pentecostal, young or old, Republican or Democrat, or even atheist or evangelical. The virus doesn’t care. That is the biggest lesson that will be learned here. Some of these schools or fundamentalist churches might go away on their own. This could be the process of evolution working through the natural system. Jerry Falwell Jr’s reaction to the press show how out of touch he is as well as his narcissism. Anyone not on their knees kissing his ass is viewed as belligerent. In the “us” vs “them” mentality for someone like Falwell there is no middle ground. You either kiss the ring or you are at risk and your own peril. These situations at Liberty are coming about because of Falwell’s leadership. He’s a narcissist that can’t deal with anything other than basking in praise and being adored. He is also a horrific leader that is incapable of it. The only thing he can lead in is liberating money from families who want to attend.
I am also troubled by his behavior in a late night phone call. Seriously who does that? I would not call someone before midnight unless I knew they were up and still I would be hesitant. Who behaves like that? That shows his irresponsible and reckless nature. You know what this reminds me of? In the finals days of Watergate Richard Nixon was seen in the White House talking to the paintings. The mental effects and stress of Watergate were getting to him. Calling people at midnight to leave allegedly threatening voicemail show a man who has mental health issues. When it comes to the comparing of Liberty to other schools this campaign also reveals Jerry Falwell Jr’s ignorance. Falwell implied that they were the only school to receive negative press coverage in hundreds of articles. Has Falwell heard about how the Los Angeles Time wrote aggressively about U.C.L.A employing a gynecologist who engaged in sexual abuse and how the university mishandled the situation? You can read about that in articles here, here and here. The press had been merciless on that topic. Has Falwell heard of the academic admission cheating scandal that engulfed U.C.L.A? You can read more here and here. And the reality is that I can look at Texas A & M, Arizona State University, and Virginia Tech and find scandals and negative press. Drug problems, sexual assault, cheating issues in the athletic program and more are a reality in schools today. And if I look at all those schools I could find a scandal. Liberty is aloof or maybe its the mindset of a narcissist who thinks he is being persecuted. The cold hard reality is that many schools and universities have had to deal with scandal and negative press.
The class action lawsuit is overdue and needed. Liberty should not be thought as a school but instead as a business for the Falwell family. People are getting fleeced by Jerry Falwell Jr and in the end the school is nothing but a hedge fund as reporting has suggested. You can see that reporting in other articles written here at this blog. To bring back students to the campus when Virginia colleges and universities closed theirs and sent them home shows how Falwell doesn’t care about human life. He cares about a buck, but nothing more. When it comes to narcissistic people like Jerry Falwell Jr they will destroy themselves in time. Falwell is destroying what he inherited.
As I wrap this up let me state that I do not consider Liberty University to be a legitimate school. In my books is has as much credibility as Bob Jones University. Those who graduate from Liberty should have a LOL on their diploma. A degree from Liberty actually cheapens college education. The concept that Liberty is a Christian school is laughable. In reality its a mini-version of North Korea with Falwell playing the role of the dictator. Academia can’t be done in a place filled with fear and anxiety. Why would anyone choose to go here when you could attend other places like Trinity University, BIOLA or other places? The one encouraging aspect to Liberty is that Jerry Falwell Jr is destroying and harming it. Organizations do not fall apart over night. But Liberty is in its long period of decline and that is good for Virginia, Christianity and the United States.