Jonathan Merritt has done some additional reporting on this story. Here is a taste of his piece at The Atlantic:
Falwell Jr. denies he was silencing Martin. It was merely about safety, he said. In an email, he told me members of the Liberty community are allowed to engage in peaceful protest and debate, but “Mr. Martin is not a student, faculty member, or employee.” Those outside of the Liberty community are required to organize events according to “facility use protocols” to ensure safety and order, but he said Martin did not follow these. The gathering, Falwell said, was little more than a publicity stunt:
“It may be possible that Jonathan Martin knew his unauthorized event would ultimately not be permitted to occur on the private property of Liberty University but he simply hoped to garner more attention to his cause by having his efforts stopped. So be it. The judgment was made that it was safer to stop the event before it started than to attempt to turn away an unknown number of people who traveled to Liberty’s campus. Either option likely gives Mr. Martin’s cause the publicity he apparently seeks. The University cannot be concerned with whether its actions provide additional oxygen to either side of a debate but rather must be concerned about safety and security of its campus.”
Read the rest here.
I don’t know Jonathan Martin and I am not familiar with his ministry. Maybe he is seeking publicity to advance his career as some kind of evangelical thought leader. But as I read his tweets I also sensed what appears to be a legitimate passion for the evangelical community and an honest concern about the direction court evangelical Falwell Jr. is taking Liberty University, largest Christian university in the world.
By writing this off as publicity stunt, Falwell Jr. seems to be devaluing a legitimate Christian critique of his political behavior.