Jerry Falwell Jr. Greed, Sex, Racism, Sexism and Homophobia
Jerry Falwell Jr. is pushing greed, racism, sexism and homophobia instead of the word of the god. God warns us of false prophets and those who use his name to promote their ideas and enrich themselves, they are a danger to all of us, and they are not doing the work of the lord, but are doing the work of the devil.
The nonprofit university’s think tank ran Facebook ads to “pray for our president,” with Donald Trump’s image.By MAGGIE SEVERNSAfter shocking many in the evangelical movement by endorsing Donald Trump over other Republicans for the 2016 presidential nomination, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. pumped millions of the nonprofit religious institution’s funds into Republican causes and efforts to promote the Trump administration, blurring the lines between education and politics.The culmination of his efforts was the creation of a university-funded campus “think tank” — which has produced no peer-reviewed academic work and bears little relation to study centers at other universities — that ran pro-Trump ads, hired Trump allies including former adviser Sebastian Gorka and current Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to serve as fellows and, in recent weeks, has aggressively promoted Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.The think tank — called the Falkirk Center, a portmanteau of Falwell’s name and that of GOP activist Charlie Kirk, who co-founded it — purchased campaign-season ads on Facebook, at least $50,000's worth of which were designated by the network as political ads, that promoted Trump and other Republican candidates by name. “Pray For Our President,” declared one, featuring a photo of Trump with his hands clasped in prayer. “Be a radical for our republic,” said another Facebook ad that ran over the summer with a photo of a beaming Madison Cawthorn, the rising GOP star and congressional candidate from North Carolina who spoke at Trump’s convention.Liberty’s actions, detailed for the first time by POLITICO, suggest the university is pushing the boundaries of its status as a nonprofit organization under Section 501c(3) of the federal tax code, which forbids spending money on political campaigns. Liberty’s actions also go well beyond the traditional role of a university as a politically neutral institution of higher learning. more...
The deposed university president secured backing by ousting critics and hiring the family members and businesses of loyalists.By MAGGIE SEVERNS, BRANDON AMBROSINO and MICHAEL STRATFORDWhen Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife Becki strolled around the Lynchburg, Va., campus of Liberty University, the evangelical school which Falwell led as president, they would play a secret game called “Would you rather.” The middle-aged couple would point to students, men and women, and imagine what it would be like to have sex with them, according to a former student who said Becki told him about the game.The former student, a member of a band with the Falwells’ son Trey, has said that Becki initiated oral sex with him while he stayed overnight at the Falwell home, following other attempts to seduce him. She confided to him the details of the game she and her husband would play, and told him multiple times how she and Jerry would take note of students' appearances.“Her and Jerry would eye people down on campus,” the former student, who was 22 when Becki performed oral sex on him and is now 32, said. “She didn’t go into specifics, but said, ‘Oh, me and Jerry play games all the time, like “Would you rather?” with people on campus.’ I’ll never forget that.”A close friend and neighbor of the Falwells told POLITICO that Becki confided to her about the relationship with the student. When the friend warned that Jerry would be upset to hear about it, the friend said, Becki told her that the only thing Jerry would be upset about was that he didn’t have a chance to watch her have sex with the student. more...
The former president was ousted earlier this year and now hints he was victim of political retribution.By David K. LiFormer Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. filed a state lawsuit Wednesday against the evangelical school founded by his father, claiming he was wrongly ousted from his leadership post. Falwell had led the school for 13 years before he resigned under pressure in late August amid a series of embarrassing scandals. In a complaint in state court in Lynchburg, Virginia, Falwell's lawyers alleged that Liberty defamed Falwell and breached the former president's contract."Mr. Falwell has suffered damage to his reputation, damage to his profession, humiliation, and anguish; lost business opportunities; and suffered other pecuniary damage," according to the plaintiff's complaint. Liberty University "would need to read and review a lawsuit before making comment, and as of this moment we have not been served,” the school's senior vice president and spokesman, Scott Lamb, said in a statement to NBC News on Thursday. The lawsuit did not ask for a specific dollar figure sought in damages. more...
By Tamar LapinJerry Falwell Jr. allegedly got drunk and injured himself inside his home about a week after explosive reports of an affair involving him, his wife and a pool boy surfaced, according to records and 911 audio reported on Thursday. The evangelical leader’s wife, Becki Falwell, called 911 around 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 31 to say her husband had fallen inside their Bedford County, Virginia house and there was “a lot of blood right now,” HuffPost reported.The dispatcher asked whether her husband had been drinking alcohol and Becki responded “yes,” according to audio of the call obtained by the website. She described being at church around 11 p.m. and receiving a call from Jerry, who said he was bleeding after a fall down the stairs. When she got home, the doors were locked so she used a chair to break through the back door, according to the report. When Becki was asked if her husband had been drinking “heavily,” she said, “I’m not going to answer that question.” More...
REVEALED: Shamed evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. put his sons and their wives on Liberty University's payroll and got the college to pay for a $2.2M pedestrian tunnel to a shopping plaza he ownsBy ReutersJerry Falwell Jr. has warned that he shouldn't be messed with as details emerge on how he mixed his personal finances with that of Liberty University's amid a probe to investigate 'all facets' of his tenure. After parting ways with Falwell Jr in the wake of personal scandals, Liberty University revealed this week it had hired a firm to investigate Falwell´s tenure, including the school's financial and real estate operations.There may be much to untangle. Falwell, who took over as president of Liberty in 2007 after years as a lawyer handling its real estate interests, intertwined his personal finances with those of the evangelical Christian university founded by his father. He put his two sons - and their wives as well - on the university's payroll. He arranged the transfer of a multi-acre Liberty facility to his personal trainer. He enlisted a friend's construction company to manage an ambitious campus expansion costing hundreds of millions of dollars.And before becoming school president, Falwell set up two companies that enabled him to cut property deals with one of the many nonprofit entities affiliated with the university, Reuters found. In each of the deals, Falwell played multiple roles with potentially conflicting interests: He was an officer of the university, a board member for the nonprofit selling the land, and a private developer who could profit from the transactions.
Aram Roston, Joshua SchneyerWASHINGTON (Reuters) - After parting ways with President Jerry Falwell Jr in the wake of personal scandals, Liberty University has hired a firm to investigate “all facets” of Falwell’s tenure, including the school’s financial and real estate operations. There may be much to untangle. Falwell, who took over as president of Liberty in 2007 after years as a lawyer handling its real estate interests, intertwined his personal finances with those of the evangelical Christian university founded by his father. He put his two sons - and their wives as well - on the university’s payroll. He arranged the transfer of a multi-acre Liberty facility to his personal trainer. He enlisted a friend’s construction company to manage an ambitious campus expansion costing hundreds of millions of dollars.And before becoming school president, Falwell set up two companies that enabled him to cut property deals with one of the many nonprofit entities affiliated with the university, Reuters found. In each of the deals, Falwell played multiple roles with potentially conflicting interests: He was an officer of the university, a board member for the nonprofit selling the land, and a private developer who could profit from the transactions. “It’s very worrisome to have these sorts of financial arrangements going on and they deserve intense scrutiny,” said Michael Bastedo of the University of Michigan School of Education.
The Hustler publisher, who won a landmark First Amendment legal battle against Jerry Falwell Sr., writes about Jerry Falwell Jr.’s fall from grace—and the Trump of it all.Larry FlyntWhen I heard that Jerry Falwell Jr. had resigned the presidency of Liberty University in disgrace, it struck me as the belated ending to a long personal saga with the Falwell clan—and an essential footnote to the role of religion and free speech in America. For those unfamiliar with ancient history, it began in the 1970s, soon after I started publishing Hustler. Jerry Falwell Sr., then head of the Moral Majority Christian interest group, sued me for libel and the “intentional infliction of emotional distress” over a Hustler parody of a Campari ad that used the liqueur’s slogan: “You’ll never forget your first time.” The parody featured an interview with Falwell waxing nostalgic about his “first time”—with his mother in a Virginia outhouse.The legal battle lasted five years, from 1983 to 1988, including three decisions against me in federal courts. There was an important principle at stake: the right of artists, writers, and publishers to satirize public figures. Finally, I was vindicated by the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision written by conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist. This case is often cited as a landmark ruling for the preservation of our First Amendment rights to free speech.Ironically, Falwell Sr. and I actually became friends later. We enjoyed many cordial visits, participated in debates across the country, and even exchanged Christmas cards. I have to concede that his friendship with me proves that, for the most part, he was practicing an essential tenet of his faith, forgiveness, and was a sincere Christian. Which is more than can be said for many of his fellow televangelists—the sorry parade of charlatans like Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Paula White, and all the other prime-time Elmer Gantrys—including the son, Jerry Falwell Jr. They’re obsessed above all with sexual behavior, ignoring and subverting the core message of Christianity—humility and compassion for the downtrodden—while embracing “prosperity gospel,” which is to say the gospel of greed above all other values.
By SARAH RANKIN and ELANA SCHORRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Liberty University is opening an independent investigation into Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that will include financial, real estate and legal matters, the evangelical school’s board announced Monday. In a statement, the board said it had retained an outside firm to investigate “all facets” of the school’s operations under Falwell, and that it was “committed to learning the consequences that have flowed from a lack of spiritual stewardship by our former president.” Calls for such an investigation had been mounting since Falwell’s departure last week from the post he had held since 2007.He officially resigned on Tuesday, after a confusing day of back-and-forths about whether or not he would be leaving. His departure came after a news outlet published an interview with Giancarlo Granda, a much younger business partner of the Falwell family. Granda said that he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Becki Falwell and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur. Although the Falwells have acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, Jerry Falwell has denied any participation. The couple allege that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the relationship unless he was paid substantial monies.
Analysis by Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor(CNN) Last fall, as scrutiny of his leadership of Liberty University began to intensify, Jerry Falwell Jr. revealed to a CNN reporter one of the secrets of his school's success. It didn't start, he said, with his famous father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who built the religious right, starred in the "Old Time Gospel Hour" on TV and founded the evangelical college in Lynchburg, Virginia. Instead Falwell Jr. praised the pluck and moral flexibility of his grandfather, a bootlegger who delivered moonshine to Virginia hill-dwellers during Prohibition. Dismissive of organized religion, Carey Falwell died at age 55, with a hip flask in his pocket and an unsaved soul, his grandson said."My father became a Christian," said Falwell Jr., "but he took that same entrepreneurial spirit into the religious world. And that's why Liberty is where it is today." Fallwell Jr., whose tenure as president and chancellor of Liberty University crashed to an inglorious end this week, always seemed closer in spirit to his defiant, bootlegging grandfather than his Bible-thumping namesake. In recent years he has tweeted racist photos and told students that if more people carried guns "we could end those Muslims before they walk in." He has called a parent concerned about coronavirus on campus a "dummy" and told a pastor to "grow a pair."
A former student at the evangelical university opens up about a 2008 incident with the wife of the school’s president.By BRANDON AMBROSINOA former Liberty University student says Becki Falwell, the wife of the university’s then-President Jerry Falwell Jr., jumped into bed with him and performed oral sex on him while he stayed over at the Falwell home after a band practice with her eldest son in 2008. The student was 22 at the time of the encounter, near the start of Liberty’s fall semester. He said she initiated the act, and he went along with it. But despite his rejection of further advances, he said, Falwell continued pursuing him, offering him gifts and engaging in banter through Facebook messages. “She was the aggressor,” he said.The messages, screenshots of which were provided by the former student to POLITICO, suggest a flirtatious relationship that went beyond what might be expected of a mother communicating with her son’s bandmate. One referenced a mutual friend who “said that she wants you to cut [your] bangs when you get your hair cut. I think that you are beautiful just like you are,” Becki Falwell wrote in a message sent in September 2008. “You don’t want to cover up those killer eyes of yours and you know the bandana drives me wild … 🙂” In another, sent in December 2008, after the student says he made clear he did not want any romantic involvement with Falwell, she wrote: “Maybe time will heal whatever wounds that I have caused and your Christian heart will allow you to forgive me.”
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Susan Svrluga and Michelle BoorsteinJerry Falwell Jr. has resigned as president of Liberty University after a series of personal scandals, ending back-to-back Falwell leadership eras at an evangelical institution that is a major power center for conservative Christians and politicians. His contract entitles him to a $10.5 million severance package, Falwell, 58, told The Washington Post late Tuesday — in part because he is departing from the university without being formally accused of or admitting to wrongdoing.Falwell said he will receive $2.5 million over 24 months, equivalent to two years’ salary. He agreed not to work for a competing university during that time. After two years, he will receive around $8 million in retirement. Falwell said he signed a 20-page contract in July 2019 that outlined the terms. “The board was gracious not to challenge that,” Falwell said of his decision to step down in good standing.
Falwell said late Monday he did not resign. A university official later said there was a holdup in finalizing negotiations, and discussions were ongoing Monday night.By Susan Svrluga, Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle BoorsteinJerry Falwell Jr. agreed to resign as president of Liberty University on Monday, according to the university’s general counsel, after a series of sordid scandals rocked the school he has led since 2007. Falwell, a real estate developer who became a passionate defender of President Trump, took over the Christian university his father helped founded to evangelize the world in 2007. His leadership dramatically increased the school’s growth and clout, but critics increasingly worried he had lost sight of the university’s spiritual mission. Falwell agreed to resign from the school’s presidency and board of directors Monday but then reversed course, according to a statement from David M. Corry, the university’s general counsel, telling his attorneys not to tender the letter for immediate resignation.The school’s executive committee met Monday and plans to meet again Tuesday morning, followed by a conference call with the full board of trustees. Opposition to his presidency had been growing but came to a dramatic head after two new reports about a young man Falwell and his wife befriended at a Florida pool, went into business with and who allegedly was sexually connected to the couple. One report painted Falwell as the victim of an obsessive affair, the other as an eager participant manipulating a naive young man. On Monday night, Falwell said that a Reuters report, which described him as having watched his wife having sex with another man, is false. Late in the day, Falwell’s purported exit became complicated. Reached by phone Monday night, Falwell said he was not resigning. He referred further questions to his public relations team, who did not comment. According to Corry, a resignation process had begun, and then broke down. Discussions continued Monday evening.
By Susan Svrluga, Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle BoorsteinJerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to resign as president of Liberty University on Monday, according to a school official. The move came after a series of personal scandals rocked the evangelical university he has led since 2007. Opposition to his presidency had been growing but came to a dramatic head after two new reports about a young man Falwell and his wife befriended at a Florida pool, went into business with and who allegedly was sexually connected to the couple. One report painted Falwell as the victim of an obsessive affair; the other as an eager participant manipulating a naive young man.Falwell had been placed on paid leave Aug. 7 after he posted a provocative picture of himself and his wife’s assistant on social media. Both had their zippers partially down and Falwell was holding a dark beverage he joked was nonalcoholic and “just a prop.” Drinking or being around alcohol as well as sexual promiscuity are banned for students under Liberty’s personal code of conduct. Liberty board members had said in a statement Friday that they were investigating.
Jemima McEvoyA former pool attendant turned business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr. claims he engaged in a years-long sexual relationship with the recently departed Liberty University president and his wife, stoking renewed controversy surrounding the leading Christian conservative figurehead and President Trump ally.KEY FACTSIn a Reuters report published Monday, Giancarlo Granda, who says he met the Falwells at age 20 while working as a pool attendant in a Miami Beach hotel, detailed a years-long relationship with the couple that involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell Jr. watched. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda, now 29-years-old, told Reuters, describing sexual encounters in hotels in Miami and New York, and at the couple’s Virginia home, “multiple times per year.” Granda provided emails, text messages and other evidence to support his claims.After Reuters reached out to the Falwells about the claims, Jerry Falwell Jr. sent a 1,200-word statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said his wife had an engaged in an “inappropriate personal relationship” with Granda which he had used to try and extort money, but made no mention of his own involvement. Granda’s connection to the Falwells made news in 2018 when Buzzfeed reported the details of a business they all launched together, which ended in a falling out and lawsuit in which Granda claimed he’d been wrongly cut out. On Friday, Liberty University’s board of trustees said it had not yet made a decision “whether or not to retain Falwell as president” after he was put on “indefinite leave” on August 7.
Aram RostonWASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a claim likely to intensify the controversy surrounding one of the most influential figures in the American Christian conservative movement, a business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr has come forward to say he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell’s wife and the evangelical leader. Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on. Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview. Now 29, he described the liaisons as frequent – “multiple times per year” – and said the encounters took place at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.His friendship with the Falwells eventually soured, Granda told Reuters, in part because he wanted to dissolve his ties with the couple and fell into a business dispute with them. Granda first emerged as a figure in the Falwells’ circle two years ago, when BuzzFeed News reported that the couple had befriended Granda and gone into business with him, buying a Miami Beach youth hostel in 2013. At the time of the BuzzFeed article, a representative of the Falwell family said Granda was “offered a share” in Alton Hostel LLC because Granda lived in Miami and would act as a manager of the youth hostel. Corporate records show that Granda currently has a stake in that venture. Becki Falwell did not respond to emails or phone and text messages from Reuters. After Reuters presented its initial reporting early last week to the Falwells, a lawyer for Jerry Falwell, Michael Bowe, said the evangelical leader “categorically denies everything you indicated you intend to publish about him.”On Sunday night, however, as Reuters was preparing to publish this article, Jerry Falwell issued a statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said that his wife had had an affair with Granda and that Granda had been trying to extort money from the couple over the matter. Granda denies any such intent, saying he was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he says he had with the couple.
By Ruth GrahamJerry Falwell Jr. is taking a leave of absence from Liberty University, the school announced on Friday evening. The executive committee of the evangelical university’s board of trustees met on Friday and requested that Falwell Jr. temporarily step down from his roles as president and chancellor, according to a brief statement issued by the school. Falwell Jr. agreed, effective immediately.The college’s statement did not mention a reason for the board’s request. But the announcement comes at the end of a week in which Falwell has faced unprecedented public pressure to resign from prominent associates of the college. Last weekend, Falwell Jr. posted a photograph to his Instagram account in which he posed with his arm around a pregnant woman with a bare midriff at a private party on a yacht. The college president’s shirt is pulled up and his pants are unbuttoned, revealing a triangle of underwear. He’s holding a glass of what appears to be an alcoholic beverage, though he referred to it in the caption as “black water.”Falwell Jr. quickly deleted the photo from his account, but screenshots spread quickly. In a bizarre, brief interview with a Virginia radio station on Wednesday, he said he had “apologized to everybody” and that he had promised his children, “I’m gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.” Falwell identified the woman as his wife’s assistant, and other photos from the weekend show his wife and several of his children and their spouses on the excursion. (Other family photographs from the weekend show the engagement of Falwell Jr.’s daughter Caroline, a Liberty student.)Students on Liberty’s campus are forbidden from drinking alcohol, and are instructed to dress modestly. A poster on Reddit compiled Falwell Jr.’s potential violations in the yacht photograph and an accompanying video, and calculated that a student captured in the same scene could have accrued more than $9,000 in school fines and 900 hours of required service, and possible expulsion.
Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent evangelical supporter of Trump, on indefinite leave of absence from Liberty U.By Sarah Pulliam BaileyLiberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent and controversial evangelical Christian supporter of President Trump, will take an indefinite leave of absence from the university after posting a provocative photo to social media where his pants were unzipped, his midriff was out, and he is standing next to a woman holding a glass of dark liquid. The school issued a brief statement saying that the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees met Friday and requested that Falwell take leave. That committee of eight people includes Falwell, according to the school’s website.Since taking over as president of the school in 2007, Falwell has vastly expanded the size and scope of the university co-founded by his father, the televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., in 1971. It is now one of the largest private online universities in the country. Liberty also claims to be one of the largest Christianity universities in the world. Its chapel stage has become a pilgrimage site for many politicians, attracting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and GOP presidential contenders in recent years.
CNNRep. Mark Waller (R-NC) is calling on Jerry Falwell Jr. to resign as president of Liberty University, saying a now-deleted Instagram post showing Falwell with his pants unzipped and arm around a woman was part of a patter making him unfit to lead the evangelical Christian institution. This isn't the first time Falwell has had to apologize for a photo he posted on social media. In June 2020, he deleted a tweet that showed one person in black face and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe after black alumni and religious leaders spoke out against it and his "incendiary rhetoric" over the last several years. Falwell was also roundly criticized in May for posting the photo with the racist figures, which was taken from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook.
By Aris FolleyA number of Black staff members and student-athletes are leaving Liberty University after the school's president, Jerry Falwell Jr., sought to mock Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Twitter last month with a mask that depicted the racist imagery from Northam's medical school yearbook page. Four Black staff members have left the school so far and the same number of Black athletes have announced their intentions to do the same after Falwell’s tweet, according to The Associated Press. The report comes several weeks after a group of Black graduates signed a letter condemning Falwell for the tweet and demanding he apologize. In the May 27 tweet, Falwell voiced his opposition to a mandate requiring Virginia residents wear face coverings in public and, in a swipe at Northam, said he would only wear a mask if it featured a photo from the governor’s medical school yearbook page that showed a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and another man in blackface. “I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!” Falwell said in the since-deleted tweet. The image drew a wave of criticism against the governor when it surfaced last year and fueled calls for Northam to resign. Falwell apologized for his tweet after drawing swift backlash from many online and from Black alumni for using the racist imagery.
By Sarah Pulliam BaileyFaced with outrage from black alumni and the resignation of at least three African American staffers, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has deleted and apologized for a two-week-old tweet that showed a face mask decorated with a photo of a person in Ku Klux Klan robes and another in blackface. The images were intended to mock the mask requirement implemented by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who nearly resigned from his office last year amid revelations that the racist photo had been featured on his medical school yearbook page. But it upset many of the African American students, staff and alumni at Liberty, which was founded in Lynchburg, Va., in 1971 by Falwell’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr., and is one of the largest Christian universities in the world. LeeQuan McLaurin, who began as a student at Liberty in 2012 and has worked there since, resigned from his position as director of diversity retention last week. He said in an email that Falwell’s tweet on May 27 was a tipping point of larger racially related problems that he has experienced at the school, which he said have contributed to a drop in Liberty’s residential undergraduate African American population from 10 percent to 4 percent between 2007 and 2018.
‘WRONG’By Madeline Charbonneau Cheat Sheet InternLiberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. on Monday apologized for his May 27 tweet in which he declared he would only wear a mask if it were one depicting the 1984 photo of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam allegedly wearing blackface. The apology, issued via Twitter on Monday, came nearly two weeks after the initial tweet. “After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor’s racist past, I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point,” Falwell wrote. “Based on our long relationships, they uniformly understood this was not my intent, but because it was the result. I have deleted the tweet and apologize for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community.”
By Konstantin Toropin and Daniel Burke, CNN(CNN) A lawsuit accuses evangelical powerhouse Liberty University of profiting from the coronavirus pandemic by drastically reducing campus services but not refunding fees paid by students for those services. The university, led by Jerry Falwell Jr., a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, has been criticized by some students and at least one professor for keeping the school's campus open, while most other colleges and universities have closed. But Liberty's campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, is effectively shut down, according to the lawsuit. Like many universities, Liberty has moved all classes to online sessions, closed its recreation centers, migrated convocations and religious services online, canceled student activities, suspended team sports and closed the campus to visitors.The school said it has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people and converted food service to take-out meals only. Liberty University, which boasts a student body of 100,000, including online students, according to its website, has so far offered "certain students who have opted to move from the residence halls" a credit of $1,000 toward the fall semester, according to a statement. But the lawsuit says students who won't return to school in the fall, excluding graduating students, will not receive the credit, and that students had to indicate they wanted the credit by March 28. "This pandemic has already placed tremendous financial strain on many of Liberty's students and their families," said Adam Levitt, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, "and the fact that Mr. Falwell would disingenuously keep the campus open as a pretext for holding onto student fees while putting their finances and health at risk is a stark illustration of where his true priorities lie." The class-action lawsuit was filed Monday by "Student A," who, according to her lawyers, chose to remain anonymous "out of fear of retaliation and harassment." The student is seeking unspecified damages "to be proven at trial." In their statement, Student A's attorneys said student fees for the 2019-2020 academic year, minus tuition for the classes students continue to take online, range from $9,200 to $16,000.
By Harper NeidigA student has filed a class-action lawsuit against Liberty University over the school's response to the coronavirus crisis, seeking refunds of thousands of dollars of tuition paid for the spring semester. A plaintiff identified only as "Student A," citing a fear of retaliation and harassment, accuses the school and its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., of downplaying the crisis and refusing to refund fees for services that are no longer available. "Liberty University is, in a very real sense, profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic—keeping its campus and campus services ‘open’ as a pretext to retain Plaintiff’s and the other Class members’ room, board and campus fees, despite no longer having to incur the full cost of providing those services, all the while putting students’ finances and health at risk," the student's lawsuit reads.Like many schools across the country, the Lynchburg, Va., university has moved all its classes online and shuttered much of its campus. But the lawsuit accused the school of a "glacially slow" response to the pandemic that put its students at risk. After weeks of downplaying the crisis and defying public health warnings, Liberty University finally moved its courses online March 23, 11 days after the governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency. But the school told students that it would keep the campus open to allow school housing residents to remain and use dining and other facilities.
Last week, Jerry Falwell Jr. ordered his students and staff back to Liberty University. Now, at least 12 students are showing coronavirus-like symptoms.
The arrest warrants Jerry Falwell Jr. says have been issued for 2 journalists came from Liberty University's police departmentBy Grace PanettaOn Wednesday, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said two warrants had been issued for two journalists who reported on Liberty's decision to keep its campus open during the coronavirus outbreak. But as multiple outlets, including Politico and RawStory have reported, the warrants were issued by the University's campus police and not the local police department. Falwell Jr. told conservative radio host Todd Starnes on Wednesday that he had police issue warrants for misdemeanor trespassing for New York Times freelance photographer Julia Rendleman and ProPublica reporter Alec McGillis, both of whom reported on Liberty's controversial decision to keep its campus open during the coronavirus outbreak. The warrants came from Liberty University's campus police department, not the Police Department in Lynchburg, Virginia, the city where Liberty is located, and appear to have been signed by a magistrate judge. It's unclear whether the warrants have been properly certified by a clerk. The Liberty University Police Department did not respond to Insider's request for comment.While Falwell Jr. told Starnes that the two journalists violated the no-trespassing signs plastered around campus, a lawyer for The Times told Politico that Rendleman had been asked to campus to take photographs by one of the subjects of the article. "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 convene classes in the midst of the pandemic," Times counsel David McGraw told Politico. Politico also reported that while a magistrate judge didn't secure enough evidence to get a warrant on Elizabeth Williamson, the author of The Times' article, Falwell. Jr hasn't ruled out taking some sort of civil action against her and The Times. Katie Townsend, the legal director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the warrants "appear to be intended to harass journalists who were simply, and rightly, doing their jobs — reporting on the impact of Liberty University's decision to partially reopen during a pandemic — and to intimidate other reporters from doing the same type of reporting," in a Thursday statement to Insider.
Jerry Falwell Jr. says warrants are out for 2 journalists after critical stories on coronavirus decisionThe president of Liberty University, which he partially reopened to students during the pandemic, accuses a NYT photographer and ProPublica reporter of trespassing.By CAITLIN OPRYSKOJerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, said on Wednesday that arrest warrants had been issued for journalists from The New York Times and ProPublica after both outlets published articles critical of his decision to partially reopen Liberty’s campus amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photocopies of the two warrants published on the website of Todd Starnes, a conservative radio host, charge that Julia Rendleman, a freelance photographer for the Times, and Alec MacGillis, a ProPublica reporter, committed misdemeanor trespassing on the Lynchburg, Va., campus of the college while working on their articles.Falwell and Liberty, one of the most high-profile evangelical schools in the country, have come under fire for welcoming students back to campus after the school’s spring break despite the pandemic, while nearly every other college in the country has ordered students off campus. In an interview on Starnes’ show, Falwell ripped a New York Times report that nearly a dozen students were experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The Times cited “the physician who runs Liberty’s student health service,” who said three students so far had been tested for coronavirus, with at least one student, who lives off campus, testing positive. More students were self-quarantining, the Times reported, a move caused, Falwell said, by where they had spent spring break. Falwell said the physician, who he says has “no official role at Liberty,” had “immediately issued a correction” to his statements to the Times.
By John CulhaneThe public health crisis created by the novel coronavirus has spun off myriad related problems—most notably, the accelerating collapse of the national economy. One story that’s not gotten the attention it deserves, though, is what will happen to those who acted irresponsibly during this challenging period. After we’re past the crisis stage of this pandemic, we could see a flurry of court cases on behalf of those sickened or killed through exposures that could have been avoided. To take one dramatic example: What if, for instance, an employer places workers at risk of infection by ordering them to work on-site when there are other, safer alternatives available? Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, may find himself an unwilling participant in answering that question. In contrast to the approach taken by most universities—send everyone home and move to an online program—Falwell has “welcomed” students returning from spring break and initially told the faculty to return to campus unless they had a sound medical reason to stay away.Although they will now teach online rather than in front of classes, many instructors remain on campus. Those who do, of course, might need to travel to and from their offices, in apparent defiance of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s order for nonessential businesses to shut down. Falwell and those who follow a similar path have set themselves up for possible negligence lawsuits. Placing people in a dangerous position is the kind of careless—even reckless—behavior that fills first-year torts casebooks. Universities can be liable for failing to safeguard the health and safety of their students and for coercing their employees (faculty and staff) to assume needless risks. While the risk of COVID-19 infection is unavoidable for hospital employees during this pandemic (even if reasonable sanitation measures are followed), there’s no sound reason for a university to defy sensible public health directives by encouraging faculty and students to return to campus. (This is especially true since this return is taking place right after spring break, when it’s a sure thing that at least some students were congregating in massive, unsafe numbers.) Such defiance of public health messaging, as well as the contrary decisions of seemingly all other institutions of higher learning, could add up to compelling evidence of negligent conduct—failing to act like a reasonable person under the circumstances.And a jury that got its hands on such a case might even find that Falwell’s conduct went beyond negligence and was reckless—meaning that it could find that he consciously disregarded a known risk. If so, Falwell and Liberty University could be saddled with punitive damages too, because Virginia, like most states, allows punitive damages for cases involving reckless conduct (but not “mere” negligence). Other employers who present their workers with such choices could be similarly called to account.
By David Williams, Christina Zdanowicz and Konstantin Toropin, CNN(CNN) Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says the campus "looks like a ghost town" and that reports that the school is reopening are overblown. The private evangelical Christian university drew sharp criticism this week for allowing students to return to the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus during the coronavirus crisis. In an interview with CNN New Day's Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday, Falwell said that most students did not return to campus after last week's spring break. "Liberty did not reopen. Liberty has between 1,000 and 2,000 students on a campus built for 15,500 and almost a thousand are international students who have nowhere else to go," he said. "Others have no place else to be except in their dorms." Falwell said he doesn't know how many students have returned to their off-campus apartments. As of Tuesday afternoon, about 1,900 students have returned to campus out of the student population of 14,000 to 15,000, university spokesman Scott Lamb said. University officials are prepared for about 5,000 students to return to campus, Lamb said.Classes to be held onlineThe university has taken steps to enforce social distancing in response to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's statewide order on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus, Falwell said, adding many of the details were just settled on Tuesday. Academic buildings are open, but all classes will be held online, and professors will be working from home, Falwell said. "The campus has become more like an apartment complex than a university. All the education is being done online. All the restaurants are serving takeout only. We are wiping down every surface that is touched off on every hour, we have extra police," he said. Falwell said campus officials met all last week to make sure that the few students that did return would be as safe as possible. "It looks like a ghost town ... and the reason some of them are leaving now to go back and study at home is because none of their friends are here," he said. The governor's order, which went into effect late Tuesday, bans gatherings of more than 10 people and closes nonessential businesses and shuts down all K-12 schools for the rest of the academic year. Northam expressed concern after learning the university was allowing students back on campus.
BY RICHARD CHUMNEY The News & AdvanceLYNCHBURG — As the coronavirus threatens to spread across the Lynchburg region, Liberty University officials are preparing to welcome back up to 5,000 students from spring break this week. Defying a national trend of campus closures, President Jerry Falwell Jr. has invited students to return to residence halls and has directed faculty members to continue to report to campus even as most classes move online. In an interview Sunday night, Falwell said somewhere between several hundred to more than 5,000 students are expected to live in campus dorms, where they will continue coursework online rather than in classrooms. Meanwhile, hundreds of professors and instructors without a valid health exemption will come to campus to hold office hours. “I think we have a responsibility to our students — who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here — to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for and to not interrupt their college life,” Falwell said. Falwell’s decision leaves Liberty as an outlier among the scores of colleges and universities across the country that have shut down to help limit the spread of the disease known as COVID-19. The threat of the coronavirus became more immediate for the Lynchburg region this weekend when the Virginia Department of Health announced cases in Amherst and Bedford counties. Statewide, as of Monday evening, more than 250 people have contracted the disease and seven have died.
We owe Jerry Falwell Jr. a debt of gratitudeBy John StoehrI suppose we owe Jerry Falwell Jr. a debt of gratitude. I'm serious. Falwell is the son of the late Jerry Falwell, the man most responsible for bringing fundamentalist Christianity out of the political wilderness during Ronald Reagan's presidency. Junior, along with Franklin Graham, himself a scion of a religious dynasty, is perhaps the president's greatest champion among white evangelical Christians. He appeared on "Fox & Friends" yesterday. Among other things, he accused Donald Trump's enemies, including the press, of hyping COVID-19, the new strain of the coronavirus spreading around the world, panicking global markets and closing down entertainment and cultural events here and elsewhere. He, like Tom Cotton, the fascist senator from Arkansas, believes the disease outbreak can be blamed on totalitarian regimes in the east.For Cotton, that's China. For Falwell, that's North Korea. (While Falwell was on air, the president announced a state of national emergency related to the outbreak, undermining his and Cotton's search for a scapegoat for his sake.) Falwell's demagoguery isn't what we should be thankful for. What we should be thankful for is his confessing, without appearing to know it, that a pillar of "principled conservatism" in the United States is no pillar at all. Not in practice. Once you see that this pillar rests on a bed of sand, rather than constitutional bedrock, you start seeing other "conservative principles" do, too. "States' rights," "gun rights," "the right to life" and even "religious freedom" are nearly always about something other than what they seem to be. Falwell and his ideological confederates can't be honest about it, though. If they were, they'd lose.Dishonesty, fraudulence and bad faith are central to their aims. What would Jesus do? Not that. Here's some context, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor (my italics): "As in many states, residents in parts of rural, conservative Virginia say they seem to inhabit an increasingly different daily reality than that of urban and suburban districts. That feeling of separation was compounded by last November's Democratic sweep of the state's elected offices. Now residents in Frederick County are mulling a radical proposal: seceding from Virginia and joining neighboring West Virginia." Apparently Falwell is part of the effort. He's the head of something called "Vaxit," according to Fox & Friends. Whether that's a real organization I have no idea, but that's not what I'm most interested in. I'm most interested in expressing gratitude to the good reverend for admitting that "states' rights" have nothing to do with conservatism. Think about it.If the principle of "states' rights" meant what conservatives have said it meant to them, not one of them, not Jerry Falwell Jr. nor anyone calling him or herself a "principled conservative," would dare suggest that a county secede from a state. If states are sovereign, as conservatives have alleged since Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat in 1948, calling for a county to secede from a state is traitorous. If "states' rights" are as sacred as conservatives have said they are, the idea of secession is an abomination. In saying counties should leave the state as casually as ordering unsweet tea with his burger and fries, the Rev. Falwell told us without knowing he was telling us that conservatism in theory is authoritarianism in practice. It cannot and will not tolerate democratic change, despite change coming with the blessing of the majority. If the majority rules, Falwell and his confederates will abandon commitments to democracy. Once you abandon democracy—once you open the door to treason—there's no end in sight. Once it seceded, "the Confederacy began to deny states' rights," wrote James W. Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me. "Jefferson Davis denounced states' rights as destructive to the Confederacy.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large(CNN) Amid colleges and universities closing their doors in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, "Fox and Friends" had Liberty University President Jerry Falwell on Friday morning to talk about his views on the pandemic. In retrospect, that was a mistake. A big mistake. Here's a piece of how Falwell, a vocal supporter of President Trump, responded to questions about the virus: "It's just strange to me how so many are overreacting. The H1N1 virus of 2009 killed 17,000 people. It was the flu also I think. And there was not the same hype. It was — you just didn't see it on the news 24/7. And it makes you wonder if there's a political reason for that. It's, uh. You know, impeachment didn't work. And the Mueller Report didn't work. And Article 25 didn't work, so maybe now this is their next — their next attempt to get Trump. But, I had the owner of a restaurant ask me last night, he said do you remember the North Korean leader promised a Christmas present? For America. Back in December. Could it be they got together with China and this is that present? I don't know, but it really is something strange going on."On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr claims people are "overreacting" to coronavirus, the national response is "their next attempt to get Trump," and the virus itself is a North Korean bioweapon. pic.twitter.com/2JPuNBW7C3— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 13, 2020Oh. My. God. Where to start?? First of all, the coronavirus is not a flu. It's caused by a different virus. But honestly, that is the least of the issues here. Falwell's suggestion that the media is hyping coronavirus and that it is actually not that bad deeply misunderstands the threat here. Every expert, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has made clear that this will get worse before it gets better. Some of the worst-case scenario numbers, which I am not including here, suggest an illness and mortality rate well beyond H1N1. Then there is the comparison invoked by Falwell between the special counsel investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election, the impeachment of President Donald Trump and the coronavirus.
The Associated PressCHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — In what they acknowledged is a long-shot bid, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. urged unhappy Virginia counties Tuesday to secede and join a neighboring state where Democrats aren’t in charge. Both Justice, a Republican in a state where the GOP dominates the legislature, and Falwell, whose university is in Lynchburg, Virginia, said the invitation to join West Virginia sends a valid message. “If you’re not truly happy where you are, we stand with open arms to take you from Virginia or anywhere where you may be,” said Justice, who’s running for reelection. “We stand strongly behind the Second Amendment and we stand strongly for the unborn.” Democrats took full control of the Virginia statehouse in November for the first time in a generation and pledged to enact gun-control measures, roll back abortion restrictions and prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people. Their agenda sparked a conservative backlash. This month tens of thousands of guns-rights activists flooded the Capitol and surrounding area in protest, some donning tactical gear and military rifles.
Liberty University students demand investigation of school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., after self-dealing allegationsBy Jordan McDonaldLiberty University students are demanding an “open and clean investigation” into school president Jerry Falwell Jr. after explosive news reports detailing alleged self-dealing and the denigration of students and officials during his tenure at the Christian university. “We should hold the university president at the same standard that me and my friends at Liberty are held to,” Ian Parish, a senior at Liberty University, told CNBC in an interview. Parish was one of the leaders of a group of more than 60 Liberty University students who protested on campus last Friday, voicing their displeasure with Falwell, son of the late school founder and televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr. and a prominent backer of President Donald Trump. The demonstration was sparked by a Reuters news agency article the day before that reported Falwell had referred to a student in an email as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded.”Parish noted that student protests at Liberty are rare, at best. “It used to be that if you talked about articles critical of Jerry, you’d be the communist or liberal one in the group,” Parish said. But Parish said that even students who are less politically engaged are “outraged and incensed” with Falwell for a lack of transparency in his administration and for having drawn negative attention to Liberty. Liberty junior Elizabeth Brooks, another leader of the protest, said that its goal is to spur the university’s board of directors into launching an investigation into Falwell. “We didn’t do this because we hate President Falwell,” Brooks said. “Our real mission and goal is to see if the allegations are true.” “We are in search of the truth, in search of transparency and accountability.” Brooks added: “If you don’t put pressure on President Falwell or the administration, things will stay the way they are, and that’s what we are afraid of.” Falwell at first responded to the protests positively, with a tweet on Friday saying he was “so impressed with how @LibertyU students conducted themselves today at the protest!”
By Douglas HanksJerry Falwell Jr. has settled the Miami court case that laid out many of the details behind the South Beach real estate venture his family launched in 2013 with a former Fontainebleau pool attendant the evangelical leader and his wife met while on vacation. In a federal court filing, Falwell and the young lawyer who sued him, Gordon Bello, said they have settled the case for an undisclosed “monetary sum” that Falwell, the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, will pay Bello, a legislative aide for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Bello sued in 2017, claiming he was promised a stake in the South Beach hostel that a Falwell family entity purchased in 2013 for $4.7 million. Bello, 28, claims he and his father, Miami builder Jett Bello, pitched Falwell on the hostel idea after being introduced by Giancarlo Granda, a high school friend of the younger Bello’s.Granda had met Jerry and Rebecca Falwell while they were vacationing at the Fontainebleau and he was working as what the Bello lawsuit later described dismissively as a “pool boy.” Granda befriended the Falwells, flew with them on corporate jets and, in 2012, traveled to Liberty to meet a famous keynote speaker there: future president Donald Trump. Granda was granted a 25 percent share in the South Beach venture about a year later, and Bello’s suit claimed he was promised a similar share. He sued to be compensated on the alleged agreement, which he never documented in court papers and which Falwell denied ever existed. Bello said in court papers that he first met Rebecca Falwell through Granda, and formed a “personal relationship” with her before he met Jerry Falwell in the lobby of the Loews Miami Beach for the alleged pitch meeting in 2012.
By Molly OlmsteadLiberty University, the Evangelical Christian college run by Jerry Falwell Jr., has hired a disgraced former reporter who was fired for making racist remarks. The reporter, Emily Austen, lost her job at Fox Sports in Florida in 2016 when she appeared on a Barstool Sports broadcast. On that appearance, she repeatedly called Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love a “little bitch,” remarked that the “Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class,” and said she “didn’t even know that Mexicans were that smart.” She also discussed “Jews in Boca” who “bitched about everything” and were “stingy.” The university announced the hiring Wednesday night on its Facebook page. Austen will join the staff of the university’s “Game On” sports program as an anchor and reporter.“This is much more than a second chance at my ‘dream career,’” Austen said in the university’s statement. “I am here to honor God, share the Gospel through athletics, and promote Liberty student-athletes, coaches and staff and their walks with Christ.” Her hiring is latest one by the university to involve officials who lost their jobs for offensive or neglectful actions. In 2016, Liberty hired Ian McCaw, who oversaw Baylor University’s athletic department during its infamous scandal involving athletes who committed numerous sexual assaults.McCaw faced allegations he swept away reports of sexual violence by players and failed to protect women at the university from players who were known to be predators. Baylor’s Board of Regents told the Wall Street Journal in 2016 that 17 women had been the victim of assaults (including gang rapes) by 19 players since 2011, and a lawsuit alleged 52 rapes by 31 players between 2011 and 2014. The law firm Pepper Hamilton, which held an independent investigation of the program, found “a failure to…take action in response to reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players.” McCaw resigned in May 2016. Liberty hired him as its athletic director that November, even as he continued to defend himself against lawsuits.
The Associated PressRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The accrediting body that oversees Liberty University has asked the college for more information about recent news reports that have questioned President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s leadership style and personal business interests, a spokeswoman told The Associated Press. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges recently sent the Lynchburg, Virginia, university a letter asking it to “respond to the media reports,” Janea Johnson said this week. Johnson declined to provide details about the contents of the letter or any specific concerns the commission would like addressed, saying the commission doesn’t divulge such communications. “The things that are in the media are things we wanted the institution to address to us,” Johnson said.Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb said the university hadn’t received any communications from the commission yet. Liberty is the nation’s highest-profile evangelical college. Falwell previously told AP that the news reports stemmed from an “attempted coup” orchestrated by several disgruntled former board members and employees who are leaking internal university communications to discredit him. He said he has asked the FBI to investigate what he considers a criminal conspiracy. Falwell is the son of the late evangelist the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty and led the Moral Majority, a conservative, religious political action group. The younger Falwell was among the earliest Christian conservatives to endorse President Donald Trump’s campaign and has enjoyed close access to the president. He says that support has likely prompted some of the criticism of his leadership style, personal life and business investments that has surfaced in news reports recently.
The Liberty University president has 'hijacked the Gospel' to enrich himself, Faithful America contends.By Corky SiemaszkoAn activist Christian group has launched a petition drive to get the Virginia Attorney General’s office and the IRS to open criminal investigations into Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. So far Faithful America has collected 10,875 signatures and hopes to reach their goal of 15,000 by this weekend. “The response has been great so far, more than we expected,” said Rev. Nathan Empsall, the organization’s Campaigns Director. “But that shouldn't come as a surprise given how fed up so many Christians are with the way Falwell and others have hijacked the Gospel to represent their hypocritical own self-interests rather than Christ's teachings of love and justice.”The drive comes in the wake of exposés by Politico, The Miami Herald and other news outlets which have accused Falwell of, among other things, using the influential and ultra-conservative Christian college to enrich himself and his cronies. Falwell is also alleged to have engaged in activities that run counter to the Christian college’s ethos like sharing photos of his wife, Becki, in French maid costume with employees, graphically describing their sex life, and drinking and dancing in Miami Beach nightspots. In response, Falwell earlier this month asked the FBI to investigate a supposed “criminal conspiracy” against him by former board members of the Christian school who he blames for the spate of negative stories. Falwell, who took the reins of the university in 2007 after the death of his father, Moral Majority founder Rev. Jerry Falwell, has denied any impropriety.Empsall, who is also a priest associate at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James in New Haven, Connecticut, said Faithful America has been critical of Falwell before “when he’s made, for example, anti-Islamic statements.” “The difference is now we are calling for a criminal investigation because there has been this snowball of stories that point out that there is a potential pattern of criminal self-dealing at Liberty University,” he said. “We’ve always known this guy is an extremist and a hypocrite and he should face social consequences for that. This is the first time we’re calling for legal consequences.” “I’m not going to say Jerry Falwell Jr. is not a Christian, “ Empsall added. “But his behavior is not Christian.” NBC News has reached out to Liberty University spokesman Scott Lamb and Liberty University Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Jerry Prevo for a response.
By Dana Hall McCainWhat does it say about Liberty University that every time one hears about its president, one feels a compelling need to shower? That’s the case for many each time Jerry Falwell, Jr. is in the news. As the President of LU, which has a total enrollment of more than 100,000, Falwell burst onto the national scene in 2016 as one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump. I’ve written previously about his increasingly unbiblical worldview, urging the LU trustees to do their job and check his behavior before he does further damage to the school and the reputation of our faith. If personal opportunism is your guiding star, Falwell is right on course.He put himself in the inner circle of the President and developed an inside track to regular national media appearances. It helped him become a household name in his own right, rather than just being his daddy’s boy. Now it seems he’s also lining the pockets of his family and friends by crafting creative business arrangements all around LU’s massive cash flow which do not pass the smell test for a nonprofit. If 10% of the information in last week’s searing Politico investigative report is true, Falwell is more corrupt than we previously knew. With Liberty trustees and employees finally finding the courage to speak out (if only as unnamed source) we have a clearer picture of the man who is quick to point out that he’s not a pastor. Roger that. There is nothing pastoral about you, Junior.There is his reported creepy need to talk about his sex life and share intimate photos of his wife. And his propensity for clubbing in Miami while leading a college that punishes and forbids male-female dancing and drinking alcohol. Oh! And then trying to lie about it when caught dead-to-rights by a professional photographer. Stellar. No, he's definitely not a pastor. But here’s the thing: a Christian university doesn’t need a pastor at the helm. It just needs a principled follower of Christ. Just a decent person with a little humility and wisdom. No institution can be effectively led by someone who rejects the ethical and moral standards that it asks its staff and students to live up to.That just doesn’t work—not if the institution in question wants to be anything other than a punchline for its detractors, in this case, the secular left. David French made the point well that the advancement of Christendom (institutions and systems that bear the Christian name) and the advancement of actual Christianity are not the same thing. And here, we see a clear case of a man growing and making prosperous a Christian institution while hurting the good name of our faith at every turn along the way. And we wonder why younger people are done with religion.
By Jerry IannelliJerry Falwell Jr. inherited Liberty University, a Virginia Evangelical Christian college, from his dad, Jerry Sr., who founded the school to create what he hoped would become a Christian competitor to the Ivy Leagues. Instead, Falwell Jr. is reportedly running the place into the ground. According to a blockbuster report from Politico last week, numerous high-level Liberty employees say Falwell seems to be lending himself a ton of the school's money and is altogether fouling the place's already low reputation. Liberty students are banned from drinking and even dancing with members of the opposite sex — which sure makes it hypocritical for the Falwells to seemingly keep getting caught up in alcohol- and sex-related scandals. Allegedly, a number of racy photos of Falwell and/or his wife are floating around. He and his wife Becki have oddly "befriended" a number of strapping personal trainers/pool attendants/attractive young men for whatever reason. And the Falwells have even been photographed in a nightclub. Weirdly, many of these stories have played out in Miami, so here's a rundown of all of the alleged shenanigans:
Why one of the best-known American evangelicals is facing big-time scrutiny.By Jane CoastonJerry Falwell Jr. — president of Liberty University (one of the world’s largest Christian universities) and a prominent supporter of President Trump — has made headlines many times before. Most recently, however, the headlines have focused on a slow-moving series of scandals that threaten to bring down, or at least sully the reputation of, one of evangelical Christianity’s most famous families. Earlier this week, Politico published a story connecting him and his wife Becki Falwell to a host of questionable real estate deals; possible self-dealing efforts to financially benefit members of the Falwell family; online poll manipulation; and visits to Miami nightclubs. (Liberty University forbids students from attending dances.) According to employees of the University, Falwell Jr. runs a “dictatorship” at Liberty, but said that speaking out about his conduct was necessary. Falwell’s concerning behavior reportedly also includes his communications with students.As detailed by Reuters this week, Falwell described students at Liberty as “physically retarded” and “social misfits” in emails, the latter stemming from concern from students who wanted to work out at a Liberty-owned off-campus gym (which Falwell wanted to be kept private for Liberty executive use only). But even before the revelations regarding financial mismanagement and bad behavior, there was a steady drip of half-veiled stories of other real estate deals the couple had made, including a business relationship with a former hotel pool attendant (whom Falwell and his wife took on trips) and investments in a South Beach hostel that advertised racy parties and listed its rules as being “No Soliciting, Fundraising, Politics, Salesmen, Religion.” I reached out to Liberty University’s senior vice president of university communications, Scott Lamb, but have not yet received a response.There are few names more well known both inside and outside the world of American mainline evangelical Christianity than that of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. The former, a Southern Baptist pastor by training, created a Christian media empire and a political lobbying powerhouse — the Moral Majority — while also founding a megachurch and Liberty University, which now has a multi-billion dollar endowment and more than 100,000 students (thanks in part to the school’s robust online offerings — the majority of students attend classes online).
Trump ally’s political influence may be on the wane as he calls for investigation at evangelical universitySince January 2016, when the head of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed Donald Trump for president, the influential evangelical university has been on a fast-track to the heart of American politics. Since being credited with helping Trump earn the loyal support of the Christian right, Falwell has become a regular presence at the White House. Meanwhile, the university, founded in 1971 by his late father, the Rev Jerry Falwell Sr, has expanded exponentially. Under Falwell Jr’s leadership, the Lynchburg, Virginia, not-for-profit university’s assets have reportedly grown from $259m in 2007 to over $3bn and it has more than 100,000 students.But lately, a series of alleged scandals appear to be threatening Falwell’s grip on power. And this week, the stakes were raised even higher amid accusations of corruption and Falwell’s own demand for an FBI investigation. On Monday, Politico published a report, citing more than 24 current and former “high-ranking” Liberty officials, which claims they are losing confidence in him. Falwell, it alleges, “presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains”. Jim Guth, politics and international affairs professor at Furman University and an expert on the religious right, said: “There’s becoming a lot of unease within the Liberty network among people in response to all of these kinds of reports that have been circulating for the last couple of years and seem to be becoming more serious, and I think that in some ways parallels what’s going on in the larger evangelical community politically. And although it’s remained very much supportive of Mr Falwell’s favorite politician, President Trump, there seem to be increasing cracks in that approval – and I think that the same thing is happening in terms of Falwell’s image within his network.”
Jerry Falwell Jr. faces backlash over emails in which he allegedly belittled students and staff at Liberty UniversityBy Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor(CNN) - Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., facing a growing controversy over business dealings at the university, is now facing a backlash over e-mails in which he allegedly belittled a student and staff during the past decade. Speaking to CNN Friday, Falwell confirmed the emails were authentic, but said they lacked critical context. "I would have to see the full thread to see what I was talking about," he told CNN. On Friday, a small band of students protested on Liberty's campus, demanding that Falwell be held accountable. Standing in the rain, the students carried signs that said, "If you won't answer to us, answer to God!" and "Accountability," according to CNN affiliate WSET. Elizabeth Brooks, a sophomore at the school and a main organizer of the protest, told Religion News Service, that the protest is not aimed at ousting Falwell, but wants to "bring to light the truth of these allegations of various misconduct." There were counterprotesters as well, including one who held a sign that said "Keep Jerry as president. Change my mind." Falwell told CNN on Friday that he was not bothered by the protests. "I just think that what college is all about, letting kids speak their minds," Falwell said. "It shows how healthy Liberty is as a free and open university that protest like that can take place, and I am proud of it."
Virginia attorney general isn’t saying whether he will investigate Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University following bombshell self-dealing reportby Jordan McDonaldVirginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office will not say whether he will investigate Liberty University in light of a recent bombshell Politico article detailing alleged self-dealing and other controversial actions by the college’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., at the nonprofit university. A spokesman for Herring told CNBC, when asked whether the attorney general was probing Liberty’s practices, “We generally do not comment on pending investigations, even to confirm whether or not one is ongoing.”A senior Liberty University official said that the school has “absolutely not” been notified that it is the subject of an investigation from Herring’s office, the FBI, or any other government authority. An Internal Revenue Service spokesman declined to comment whether it will investigate Liberty University, citing department policy. Virginia’s Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment. Experts in nonprofit law who were interviewed for the Politico article told CNBC this week that the allegations involving Falwell, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, were more than than enough to warrant a probe by Herring and his office into Liberty University’s business practices.“The allegations in the Politco exposé of Liberty University and its management are serious and likely merit investigation from state and federal regulators,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at Stetson University College of Law. Ellen Aprill, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School, said, “I think the self-dealing transactions are violations of tax law and probably the state nonprofit law.” “I do think they merit both AG and IRS investigation,” Aprill said. Virginia’s attorney general has not been shy about taking action against charities and nonprofits that have violated state law. Herring’s office filed lawsuits against sham cancer charities, deceptive veterans’ charities and a service dog nonprofit between 2016 and 2018.
Byben finley, associated pressStudents at Liberty University in Virginia gathered Friday to protest in the wake of news reports containing allegations that school president Jerry Falwell Jr. improperly benefited from the institution and disparaged students in emails. Students jointed together at the private evangelical university known for being an influential hub in conservative politics and held up signs calling for accountability and an investigation. Elizabeth Books, a junior majoring in politics and policy, told The Associated Press by phone that a recent Politico Magazine story as well as a Reuters report prompted the protest at the school in Lynchburg. She said about 35 students were involved while many more watched. "I couldn't stay silent anymore," the 20-year-old said."I would like to see President Falwell address this himself and for there to be an investigation into the allegations to see whether or not they're true." The Politico story contained allegations that Falwell "presides over a culture of self-dealing" at Liberty that has improperly benefited him and his family. The story cited unnamed sources described as current and former officials or Falwell associates. Falwell told The AP on Tuesday that he wasn't going to "dignify the lies that were reported" in the Politico piece, calling the reporter for the story a "little boy."Falwell said he would ask the FBI to investigate. He also said Liberty has hired "the meanest lawyer in New York," whom he declined to identify, to pursue civil cases. Brooks said student protesters were particularly upset about quotes of emails in the Reuters story posted Thursday in which Falwell allegedly referred to one student as "emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded." David Corry, Liberty's general counsel, told Reuters that Liberty wouldn't respond "without knowing the details or seeing email chains in their entirety."
By Amanda WoodsLiberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. denigrated students and staff alike in several newly obtained emails dating back to 2008 — one in which he called a student “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded,” according to a new report. The comments, contained in email exchanges with colleagues obtained by Reuters, range from labeling some students at the Lynchburg, Virginia, evangelical Christian university as “social misfits” to calling the school’s police chief a “half-wit.” “I talked to [name of student] today,” Falwell wrote in one email from 2010. “[He] is emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded. He is a nice kid but is an easy target for anyone who will give him a little attention. I feel sorry for [him] but he is not a leader among students.” In another, from 2011, Falwell allegedly called Ronald Sones, then the dean of the engineering school, “a bag of hot air” who “couldn’t spell the word profit.” Sones could not be reached be Reuters. He also branded campus police chief Richard Hinkley as “a half-wit and easy to manipulate” who shouldn’t be allowed to speak publicly. He, too, couldn’t be reached for comment.
By Aram Roston, Joshua SchneyerWASHINGTON (Reuters) - In emails to his colleagues over the years, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr has denigrated students and staff at the Christian university he runs, referring to one student as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded” and calling the school’s police chief a “half-wit.” The barbed comments, contained in email exchanges reviewed by Reuters, emerge as the evangelical political leader is seeking to stem a rash of news reports about his stewardship of the Virginia-based university. Falwell said this week he has asked U.S. federal authorities to investigate whether former board members and employees at the nonprofit university may have broken the law and divulged internal school documents to journalists.The request came after recent reports by Reuters and Politico describing how Falwell has managed Liberty. Falwell told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that the email disclosures constituted an “attempted coup” aimed at securing his ouster from Liberty, where he has served as president since 2008. The FBI declined to comment. As he complains of being targeted by critics, Reuters has found that Falwell himself was disparaging Liberty students, staff and parents for years in emails to Liberty administrators. The several dozen emails reviewed by Reuters span nearly a decade-long period starting in 2008. In the emails, Falwell insults some Liberty students, calling them “social misfits.” In others, he blasts faculty members and senior Liberty staff:
A legal expert told the AP Falwell's claims were "totally insane."by Kate CoxHigh-profile evangelical conservative Jerry Falwell Jr., a staunch Trump supporter and president of Liberty University, wants the FBI to investigate current and former university employees for... forwarding emails. Falwell claims to have evidence that employees "improperly shared" emails belonging to the university, the Associated Press reports. Falwell said the communications were shared as part of a "criminal" smear campaign and "attempted coup." Falwell told the AP he contacted the FBI before the story was published, when he learned reporters were reaching out to Liberty employees about the "stolen" emails. "I am going to the authorities and I am going to civil court" over the shared documents, Falwell said.[D]etailed other instances of Falwell's behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school's founder and Falwell Jr.'s father, and his Moral Majority. Reuters this week also published a selection of emails in which Falwell used insulting or disparaging language to describe Liberty University students, staff, and parents to other administrators. "I'm not going to dignify the lies that were reported yesterday with a response," Falwell told the AP, but he said he hired "the meanest lawyer in New York" to pursue civil cases against sources who shared communication with Politico."Liberty owns every single one of those emails. It's our property. They were working for us when they used our server," Falwell told the AP. "Our policies make it clear every email sent on our server is owned by Liberty, and if anybody shares it with anybody outside Liberty, it is theft. And so that's the underlying crime." Employees who spoke with Politico apparently anticipated this kind of response from Falwell: "Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear," said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications. The fear is not limited to Liberty's campus. Several people who lack any tie to Liberty but live in the school's hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, refused to go on the record for this story, fearing Falwell would take revenge upon them and their families. "Fear is probably his most powerful weapon," a former senior university official said.
By Audrey McNamaraLiberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. mocked the school’s students, parents, and faculty for years in emails to school administrators, Reuters reports. The evangelical leader and prominent supporter of President Trump wrote in one email that a student at his Virginia-based Christian university was “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded,” and called the school’s police chief a “half-wit.” The disparaging emails, which span for nearly a decade-long period, follow numerous reports on Falwell’s questionable, and potentially criminal, behavior.
The evangelical leader came under fire as photos undercut his denials.By Ed MazzaEvangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University and a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, denied the explosive allegations made in a Politico story that dropped this week. He also claimed to be the victim of an “attempted coup” at the university. But at least one of Falwell’s denials is already falling apart. He denied being on the Miami party scene at the Wall club in 2014. “There was no picture snapped of me at Wall nightclub or any other nightclub,” Falwell said, and claimed any image showing as much was “photo-shopped.”Politico posted the images on its website. Then, after Falwell’s “photo-shop” accusation, the agency that provided the pics stepped in. “For 21 years, I have maintained an impeccable reputation for documenting Miami Beach’s storied social scene,” wrote Seth Browarnik, founder of the World Red Eye photo agency. Browarnik said he initially didn’t know why Politico was interested in buying one of his 2014 images. When Browarnik learned that it was because Falwell was one of the partiers ― and that the evangelical leader had claimed it was a fake ― he searched his archives and located more pictures of Falwell and his son, Trey Falwell, then posted the images on his website.Browarnik told The Miami Herald that Falwell’s accusation had motivated him to dig through his archives to find more. “If you want to say you weren’t there, fine. But going and saying I ’photo-shopped?” he said. “This is coming after my livelihood and reputation, which is pristine.” In the Sept. 9 article, Politico reported that more than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials “describe a culture of fear and self-dealing” at the Christian college. Sources claim the conservative leader was partying in nightclubs and graphically discussing his sex life with employees. Twitter users also slammed Falwell for “hypocrisy,” especially given that, as Politico reported, Liberty University restricts co-ed dancing and forbids drinking:
Owner of Miami nightlife website finds additional images rebutting Jerry Falwell Jr.’s claims of photoshopping.By BRANDON AMBROSINOOne day after POLITICO published a piece in which Jerry Falwell Jr. denied visiting a Miami Beach nightclub in July 2014 and alleged that any images showing such were “photo-shopped,” a new trove of photos showing Falwell at the club has been released. Seth Browarnik, the owner of World Red Eye, a photography company that documents Miami’s bustling nightlife scene, says he was unaware how many photos he had of Falwell until Falwell alleged that his site’s images were manipulated—prompting Browarnik to explore his photo archive to prove otherwise. On Tuesday, Browarnik published the newly unearthed photos on his website, WorldRedEye.com, along with a strongly worded “rebuke” of Falwell’s claim of photoshopping. “First things first,” Browarnik told me over the phone, “we didn’t even know [Falwell] was in the photos.Number one! Finding him in the crowd is like a ‘Where’s Waldo?’” Browarnik lives high up in a South Beach skyrise, from which he can see the Falwell-owned Miami Hostel. Not that the owners of the flophouse crossed Browarnik’s mind that often. He didn’t even know his company had taken any photos of Liberty University’s first family partying at Wall, a Miami Beach nightclub, until he saw them identified in the piece published by POLITICO yesterday. “All of a sudden, I scroll down and say, ‘Oh my god!’” Browarnik said. It wasn’t an exclamation of excitement as much as indignance. In the article, Jerry Falwell Jr. repeatedly claimed that the photos—which POLITICO obtained from World Red Eye, which World Red Eye has had on their website for five years, and which show Falwell partying at Wall on July 19, 2014—were manipulated.“If the person in the picture is me, it was likely photo-shopped,” Falwell said. Browarnik said he felt insulted. “My integrity is everything in this business,” he said. Jerry Falwell Jr. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. For the past 21 years, Browarnik has photographed Miami nightlife. Because of his trusted reputation as a photographer, he thought it was important to quickly quash Falwell’s accusation. “That’s why I have an archive of five million photos,” Browarnik told me. “That’s why we catalog everything.” While reviewing images from the night in question, Browarnik discovered several previously unpublished photos from that evening in which Jerry Falwell Jr. and other members of the Falwell family can be seen—including Jerry’s wife, Becki, sons Trey and Wesley, and Trey’s wife, Sarah. In the images, the Falwells can be seen in the middle of the club’s dance floor while lasers and other light effects reflect around them. In at least two photos, Falwell family members can be seen holding alcohol. (Liberty University is notoriously strict about alcohol consumption, and students can receive demerits for co-ed dancing and be expelled for drinking.)
By Hemant MehtaIn response to POLITICO‘s lengthy article about Jerry Falwell, Jr. and the way he’s wielded power and fear over people at Liberty University, Falwell now says he’s getting the FBI to look into the breach of security at his school. Because employees who tell the world about their shitty boss by speaking with a journalist are a national security problem that must be stopped. Here’s The Hill: Falwell said in an exclusive interview that in the coming days the FBI will review university documents at the Lynchburg, Va., campus. He accused former colleagues of stealing school property in the form of emails and then sharing them with reporters in an effort to damage his reputation.The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “Our attorneys have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, are working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters,” Falwell Jr. said. For most people, watching your former friends share private messages with the public is just a typical Facebook fight. For Falwell, it amounts to a criminal conspiracy to take him down like he’s some Christian Mafia Boss. Oh well. Thoughts and prayers all around. Maybe one day he’ll realize that if he was just better at his job, students and staffers wouldn’t have to talk to reporters about how awful the culture is at Liberty. (There’s a reason no one’s leaking emails talking about how amazing Falwell is.)I’m sure he can just call a pool boy to clean up his crocodile tears. Incidentally, there was a passage in Brandon Ambrosino‘s article about Falwell going to a Miami nightclub. That in itself isn’t all that scandalous, but Liberty prohibits co-ed dancing and alcohol, so it would be the height of hypocrisy to see Falwell livin’ it up like that. Ambrosino told Falwell he had a picture of him and his son Trey at the club. Falwell didn’t take that information well:
Trump backer Jerry Falwell Jr. says ex-Liberty U. board members engaged in ‘criminal conspiracy’ in effort to oust him as school presidentBy Jordan McDonaldLiberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. claimed Tuesday he is the target of a “criminal conspiracy” by former board members to oust him — and said he is sharing information about that alleged plot with the FBI. Falwell’s claims, which were made during an interview with Hill.TV, came a day after a bombshell Politico article detailing his leadership of Liberty University, a private Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia. That article, citing “more than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell,” described a so-called “culture of fear and self-dealing” at the university, which was founded by Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell Sr., who also co-founded the Moral Majority. Politico’s sources detailed Falwell Jr.’s involvement in projects and real estate deals that have benefited his family and friends. “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official quoted by Politico. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
'We’re a real estate hedge fund,' one saysBy Bob Cronin, Newser Staff(Newser) – "We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” a senior official at Liberty University said. "We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students' money to do it." Those are among the accusations in a Politico Magazine report about Jerry Falwell Jr.'s stewardship of the Christian school in Virginia. More than two dozen current and past employees—even board members—are hesitant to have their names used, but they disclosed information about Falwell's reign in a sign of increasing opposition to his leadership. They described an atmosphere of fear, sweetheart deals that enrich his family and friends, and personal behavior they see as falling short of the evangelical Christian ideal—including partying, sharing racy photos, and telling employees about his sex life in graphic detail. "Everybody walks around in fear," said one employee who provided information about the school. "But someone’s gotta tell the freakin’ truth,” said another.
By Jessica LipscombFor the past two years, reporters have slowing been dismantling the public persona of Baptist evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr., a "family values"-style Trump supporter with major political sway among evangelical voters. Oddly, many of the stories about Falwell take place in Miami Beach, a full 900 miles south of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he heads the ultra-conservative Liberty University. First, there was news in August 2017 that Falwell had helped his son Jerry "Trey" Falwell III purchase a "flophouse"-like hostel in South Beach. Then, in late 2018, it was revealed Falwell and his wife had, curiously, loaned $1.8 million to a hunky pool boy they'd met at the Fontainebleau. Earlier this year, the plot thickened when photos were leaked of Falwell and the pool boy at a resort in Islamorada. Additional photos, which have so far gone unpublished, apparently show Falwell's wife Becki "in various stages of undress."
More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world.By BRANDON AMBROSINOAt Liberty University, all anyone can talk about is Jerry Falwell Jr. Just not in public. “When he does stupid stuff, people will mention it to others they consider confidants and not keep it totally secret,” a trusted adviser to Falwell, the school’s president and chancellor, told me. “But they won’t rat him out.” That’s beginning to change. Over the past year, Falwell, a prominent evangelical leader and supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under increasing scrutiny. News outlets have reported on business deals by Liberty University benefiting Falwell’s friends. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell clean up racy “personal” photographs.Based on scores of new interviews and documents obtained for this article, concerns about Falwell’s behavior go well beyond that—and it’s causing longtime, loyal Liberty University officials to rapidly lose faith in him. More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell spoke to me or provided documents for this article, opening up—for the first time at an institution so intimately associated with the Falwell family—about what they’ve experienced and why they don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement. In interviews over the past eight months, they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains.Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends. “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. told Hill.TV on Tuesday that he has begun sharing information with the FBI in what he alleged was a criminal conspiracy against him by former board members at the school. Falwell said in an exclusive interview that in the coming days the FBI will review university documents at the Lynchburg, Va., campus. He accsed former colleagues of stealing school property in the form of emails and then sharing them with reporters in an effort to damage his reputation.The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “Our attorneys have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, are working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters," Falwell Jr. said. The accusation follows a Politico story published Monday that detailed a "culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world." The story cited internal Liberty University emails, which Falwell Jr. and his attorney's allege were stolen in a coordinated effort.
By Molly OlmsteadOn Monday, Politico Magazine published an account from “more than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials” detailing a culture of self-dealing and intimidation fostered by Jerry Falwell Jr., the prominent Donald Trump supporter and president of the country’s largest conservative evangelical university. The story, reported by Brandon Ambrosino, painted an image of a hypocritical Christian leader who bucked his father’s more religious mission in order to chase profit and political power. The allegations, piled atop previously reported accounts of suspicious business deals by Falwell, were numerous. Here are some of the highlights. Sexual Impropriety: Reuters reported in May that former Trump lawyer (and current federal prisoner) Michael Cohen had helped Falwell deal with the fallout from some scandalous photos. The Miami Herald confirmed in June that the photos existed, and that some of them featured his wife, Becki. And according to Politico, Liberty officials said Falwell showed or sent male friends and associates, including at least one Liberty employee, photos of Becki “in provocative and sexual poses.”
Hypocrisy at the world’s biggest Christian college? Let’s just say shock was in short supply when Politico on Monday, citing dozens of sources, published a deep dive into the antics of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. ‘We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund. We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.’ That’s what one university official credited with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances told Politico, which cited several deals in which Falwell, an influential Donald Trump supporter, reportedly used school funds to enrich his own inner circle.One of those sweetheart deals apparently involved Ben Crosswhite, Falwell’s personal trainer. Liberty University in 2013 upgraded a fitness center so that Falwell and his wife could train there privately. Crosswhite bought the facility at a discount and was paid seven years in advance for Liberty’s use. Crosswhite was reportedly the only prospective buyer allowed to bid. “Hell of a deal,” a former high-ranking Liberty official was quoted in the story as saying. “We gave Ben everything he asked for.” As troubling as those, and many other questionable real-estate deals that were cited in the story, may be, the spiciest part of the piece focused on compromising photos and bawdy banter. School officials said Falwell had a text misfire when he meant to send a “racy” photo of his wife to Crosswhite but instead sent it to several others. This after online buzz had already focused on a “compromising” photo of the Falwells that Reuters reported was covered up by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Liberty University president attacks an evangelical leader with a bizarre line of logic.By Ed MazzaWhat would Jesus do... to make the payroll? Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of the evangelical Liberty University and a staunch defender of President Donald Trump, is coming under fire for a bizarre attack on a Christian leader who said the administration’s squalid detention conditions for migrant children “should shock all of our consciences.” What would Jesus do... to make the payroll? Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of the evangelical Liberty University and a staunch defender of President Donald Trump, is coming under fire for a bizarre attack on a Christian leader who said the administration’s squalid detention conditions for migrant children “should shock all of our consciences.” Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted:The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences. Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this. The call for “dignity and compassion” didn’t sit well with Falwell. He fired back at Russell by demanding to know if he ever “made a payroll” or “built an organization of any type from scratch.” Falwell inherited his role as Liberty University’s president from his televangelist father. But he suggested that building an organization from scratch and making a payroll are conditions that must be met before sharing an opinion. “What gives you authority to speak on any issue?” he demanded. “I’m being serious.”
Latest exposé of Jerry Falwell Jr. won't touch him, as long as he keeps pushing racism, sexism and homophobiaBy Amanda MarcotteOn Monday morning, Politico published a major exposé on Jerry Falwell Jr., the religious right's most influential supporter of Donald Trump and the president of Liberty University, an evangelical institution formed by his father, Southern Baptist minister Jerry Falwell. Writer Brandon Ambrosino paints a damning picture of the younger Falwell as a man unrestrained by his own religion's teachings on sexual morality or any other kind of Christian ethics. The laundry list of malfeasance and inappropriate behavior is impressive, "from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering" and "directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains."The most titillating story, previously reported by the Miami Herald, concerns the fact that Falwell and his wife, Becki, seem to have have an interesting sex life involving sharing naked photos with other men — men who, likely not coincidentally, enjoy healthy levels of financial assistance from the Falwells and Liberty University. For instance, Politico reports that Falwell sent pictures of his wife in "a French maid costume" to their personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite. They also used Liberty funds to set Crosswhite up as the owner of a lucrative gym. There's a lot more of this sort of thing, making it quite clear that Falwell is a first-rate hypocrite who poorly hides a love of power, luxury and sexual freedom behind a facade of Christian piety. But it's foolish to imagine that any of this will affect Falwell's political power or standing with the larger white evangelical community.The pretense that the religious right was motivated by faith and morality was dropped — or should have been — when white evangelicals flocked to vote for Trump in greater numbers than they did for George W. Bush, who if he was convincing about little else, was convincingly a man of faith. Here's the thing: The real purpose of the Christian conservative movement is to uphold white supremacy and patriarchy, full stop. As long as Falwell Jr. keeps that up — as his father did before him — his flock will stick with him just as they've stuck with Trump, a thrice-married chronic adulterer who has bragged about sexual assault on tape.The biggest flaw in Ambrosino's otherwise excellent reporting is that his sources repeatedly describe Falwell Jr.'s behavior as a departure from the traditional Christian ethics that his father supposedly stood for. The elder Falwell, who died in 2007, is praised by anonymous Liberty University employees as "a respectable, honest, decent, hardworking man" and as a man who was motivated by "a higher calling." As anyone who really understands the history of the Christian right will agree, this is complete nonsense. The elder Jerry Falwell was a bigot through and through, and his version of Christianity was primarily, if not solely, about rationalizing a white supremacist, misogynistic and homophobic worldview.
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