A Closer Look at the Issue of Nepotism on the Board of Trustees at Liberty University

Back in December of 2020 this blog did a long deep dive into the Board of Trustees at Liberty University. Some more information has come forward and this blog wanted to focus on the issue of nepotism on the Board of Trustees. Up to 25% of the Liberty University Board of Trustees is affected by the problem of nepotism. In the view of this blog no healthy 501(c)(3) would have this particular problem on this scale. 

“I can tolerate anything but corruption and nepotism.

Naveen Patnaik

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30 NIV


Last December this blog did a post tat looked at the Liberty University Board of Trustees. You can read that post in, “A Deep Dive Into the Liberty University Board of Trustees.” When I did that post it was a broad overview, however that blog article also brought forth some new information and it is time to do a follow up. The Liberty University Board of Trustees has some serious issues with nepotism Let’s draw that issue out and look at it a little more on this brief post. 

Problems with Nepotism on the Liberty Board of Trustees

There are several problems of nepotism on the Board of Trustees at Liberty University.

  1. Gilbert “Bud” Tinney and Will Tinney. Gilbert “Bud” Tinney Jr is a businessman in Michigan where he is in the automotive business with Tinney Automotive. His brother is Will Tinney who co-owns the car dealership it appears.
  2. Chris and David Rhodenhizer are both pastors. Chris Rhodenhizer is the pastor of Image Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. While his brother David Rhodenhizer is the pastor of Calvary Road Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia outside Washington, D.C.
  3. Jonathan Falwell is on the Board of Trustees and there will be problems when it comes to decision making because of his brother Jerry Falwell Jr’s long history with Liberty. Does Jonathan Falwell excuse himself from any discussions that come up regarding his brother? Even if those discussions take place after Jerry Falwell Jr has departed and left? This blog has its doubts and concerns.
  4. Harvey Gainey and Angela Jordan. Harvey Gainey is a businessmen in Grand Haven, Michigan. Angela Jordan is Harvey Gainey’s daughter. You can read about her in more detail here. Both are on the Board of Trustees
  5. Will Graham should also be brought up into this discussion on nepotism. Will Graham is the oldest son of Franklin Graham. He attended Liberty University and graduated in 1997. Now here’s why I believe he should be brought into the discussion. Will Graham is the Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He is Franklin Graham’s son. William is going to be jaded in this area and not objective because he comes out of a family ministry that is probably the most notorious for nepotism in modern evangelicalism. 

Analysis and Closing Thoughts on the Nepotism Issue on the Board of Trustees at Liberty University

The Liberty Board consists of 32 members. When you do the math it means that 25% of the board is affected by the issue of nepotism. They will not be able to make solid or healthy decisions about Liberty because of family ties  to each other. Now was the board set up like this so Jerry Falwell Jr could do what he wanted to do? I would think most 501(c)(3) organizations would not have this high a percentage when it comes to nepotism. And another factor that clouds the issue of nepotism as well is the issue of cronyism. The appointment of Tim Lee to replace Allen McFarland is an example of that. Lee has long been close to the Falwell family and his goals are along the same lines of Jerry Prevo. Faith is about the culture wars. None of this is going to change and again its another reminder that Liberty is unhealthy. 

10 thoughts on “A Closer Look at the Issue of Nepotism on the Board of Trustees at Liberty University

  1. Liberty U, like anything MegaChristian, could give the Saudi Royal Family lessons on nepotism.
    House Falwell could give House Kim (of the DPRK) lessons on nepotism.

    Game of Thrones: The Live Role-Playing Game


    • Are we on agreement then Seneca that Liberty University is not a school but a family business for the Falwells? In small businesses one learns not to cross the family quickly. Is that what we’re suggesting Seneca?


    • You don’t have a 32-member board to make decisions, you have a 32-member board to say “Yes” and “Amen” to everything the powers that be have decided before the “board” meeting.

      A 32-member board is not a decision-making body. It exists to play to the vanity of major donors or other influential people. The real decisions are made and prepared by
      a) the head honcho himself (it’s mostly him-),
      b) an executive committee,
      c) an unofficial “executive committee” of the head honcho’s closest friends.

      The “board” are only there as decoration, to create the impression of “good governance”, where there isn’t any.


      • “The real decisions are made and prepared by…”

        Der Fuehrer and his Inner Ring of courtiers and flunkies.

        Fuehrerprinzip full-strength and on the rocks.


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