The Latest from Liberty University

The details are still coming in, but it appears that a Christian minister named Jonathan Martin was removed from the campus of Liberty University yesterday after coming to Lynchburg to see a Johnnyswim concert.  He also invited students to meet with him for the purpose of praying for the university and its court evangelical president, Jerry Falwell Jr.

Here is what Martin wrote on his Facebook page this morning:

First off, I want to apologize to the group of @LibertyU students who were going to meet me at 7am for prayer tomorrow outside the library. This is a crucial moment in history, & what you do with it matters–so I hope you will still come & seek divine wisdom to be faithful in it. Tonight after the JOHNNYSWIM show, 3 armed Liberty University police officers (& I think 2 not in uniform) came & escorted me out of their green room. They served me papers & took my picture, told me I would be immediately arrested if I ever stepped foot on Liberty property again.

This was evidently in response to my strong criticism of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s alignment not only with the darkest contours of Trumpism, but expressly with Steve Bannon & the alt-right he represents. I came to the show tonight as a guest of JOHNNYSWIM. I committed no crime (except perhaps to sing too loudly to my favorite JOHNNYSWIM songs 🙂 ) I was openly considering some sort of future action oriented around prayer & repentance, but came this time only for the show & for a time of prayer tomorrow morning to seek divine guidance as to what faithful, humble-but-clear Christian resistance might look like. What does it mean for a college administration to be this afraid of free speech? What precisely is Jerry Falwell Jr. afraid of? He openly encourages students to carry weapons, but is afraid of public prayer from Christians who openly embrace nonviolence.

This confirms what I’ve heard repeatedly of the authoritarianism of Falwell from students & faculty at Liberty: like the president for whom he serves as a full-time apologist, Falwell does not easily tolerate robust dissent. One might rightly ask what sort of Christianity Falwell represents, or what it has to do with “liberty.” I encourage those students who rightly discern his syncretistic blend of nationalism & Christianity to still come & pray in the morning at 7am. The power of God’s Spirit inside of you is greater than the forces that conspire against your faithful witness. After that, if any students want to meet for further prayer & conversation, I will be in the lobby at the Lynchburg Fairfield Inn at 8am.

This is a heavy moment in history. Sons & daughters of the church, those of us who have gone before you have overwhelmingly lost the plot. I am sorry for the ways in which we have failed you (& by we I do include “me”). We need your voice, your wisdom, your courage, now. It seems much of evangelical faith in America has been hijacked, doesn’t it? But the future is worth fighting for, friends. Press on.

Martin is a popular Pentecostal pastor (Church of God–Cleveland, TN) at a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma who has been a vocal opponent of Donald Trump and his presidency.

After the concert and his removal from campus he posted pictures of himself with the members of Johnnyswim, who apparently invited him to the concert.

Martin, who apparently has a following among the student body at Liberty, originally invited students to meet him for prayer in front of the university library.

But this all changed after he was removed from campus last night.  The prayer event was move to the Fairfield Inn in Lynchburg.  (Not sure how many students showed up).

It also seems that Martin had something bigger planned than just a prayer meeting with a few friends.  This is what probably caught the attention of the Liberty University security team (and Jerry Falwell Jr.).

Let’s see how this develops.  Whatever the case, Martin seems to have the ear of some Liberty University students and Falwell Jr. seems nervous.