Yesterday I wrote about Liberty University’s decision to stay open during the Coronavirus crisis. President Jerry Falwell Jr. recently suggested that Kim Jong Un and the Chinese plotted to spread the virus on American shores as a way to punish Donald Trump. Read our post here.
Yesterday, Joe Heim of The Washington Post did some additional reporting on Falwell Jr.’s decision to keep Liberty University open. Here is a taste of his piece:
Liberty has taken some steps in response to the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, it canceled attendance at its weekly convocation of students that brings together about 6,000 students to listen to a speaker. The event was streamed online. Earlier this week, it announced that all of its international study programs for spring and summer were terminated and called back Liberty students studying in Rome.
By announcing that the university’s 16,000 students would return to class on campus, Liberty is an outlier among Virginia’s universities. Almost all of the commonwealth’s prominent colleges and universities have announced that classes will move online only.
Falwell’s announcement that in-person classes would resume following spring break did not sit well with some students at the Christian evangelical university in Lynchburg.
“I think it’s gross,” said Elizabeth Lake, 22, a senior math major. “We’re supposed to be taking preventative action, and he’s not doing that because of his political views.”
Lake said she didn’t have any issue with Falwell’s support of Trump but thought he was making a poor decision to keep the school operating as normal.
“Students are going to be coming back from spring break from all over and who knows if they’re going to bring this back with them,” she said. “He’s not taking into consideration all of the Liberty students and the people who live in Lynchburg.”
Scott Lamb, a spokesman for Falwell, declined an interview request.
Joe Keller, 18, a freshman sports management major, said he was “pretty upset” with the school’s decision.
“If I get coronavirus, I can probably beat it, but I don’t want to get in contact with older professors who might catch it from me. I don’t want to be in crowded dorms where it’s spreading all over,” he said. “This decision really endangers the students and staff.”
Read the rest here.
Messiah College, the Christian college where I teach, will move to online courses until Easter.
The University of Lynchburg, which is located in the same city as Liberty University, has moved all classes online.
Esau McCaulley, a professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts college in the Chicago suburbs, is the author of a New York Times piece titled “The Christian Response to the Coronavirus: Stay Home.” Here is a taste:
…the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the virus is by social distancing (avoiding large gatherings) and good personal hygiene (washing our hands). The data suggests that what the world needs now is not our physical presence, but our absence.
This does not seem like the stuff of legend. What did the church do in the year of our Lord 2020 when sickness swept our land? We met in smaller groups, washed our hands and prayed. Unglamorous as this is, it may be the shape of faithfulness in our time.
There is a lesson here for a diminished church. It is not that the church should go away forever, but that heroic virtue comes in small actions as much as in large ones. We live in an age of self-assertion, where everyone is yelling, “Pay attention to me because I am the only one who can help.” But part of the Christian message is that God comes to us in ways that defy our expectations. The all-powerful empties himself of power to become a child. Jesus as king does not conquer his enemies through violence, he converts them to his cause by meeting violence with sacrificial love.
Read the entire piece here.
Not all Christian colleges are the same.