The reasons why the Board of Trustees of Liberty University finally decided to ask Falwell to step-down as president is still somewhat of a mystery. We can make some pretty good assumptions, but little has been said specifically.
Almost every major news outlet is covering this story and some are adding a few more wrinkles to what we already know.
Elizabeth Dias of The New York Times scored an interview with Franklin Graham:
“He is a great leader and he has taken this school — it is one of the largest universities in the United States. He’s done an incredible job,” Mr. Graham said. “He is a great leader and I certainly support him.”
Mr. Graham said he had not spoken with Mr. Falwell about the photograph or his leave.
About the photograph, Mr. Graham said: “All of us in life have done things that we’ve regretted. I think he certainly has regretted that. It was a foolish thing.”
It is worth noting that all three of Graham’s sons and other members of his family attended Liberty.
Dias also quotes Calum Best, a recent Liberty University grad who has criticized Falwell:
Calum Best, 22, who graduated from Liberty in May and who has spoken out against Mr. Falwell’s political activity, called the move “a victory.”
“It feels like they did it more because they were embarrassed, more than because it was the correct thing to do,” he said. But, he said, “it’s great that he is gone.”
“He is the one who holds up Liberty’s culture of focus on money, material well-being, political nationalism,” he said. “Without Falwell gone, we can’t really change any of that.”
Sarah Pulliam Bailey and her colleagues at The Washington Post interviewed D.J. Jordan, a publicist and 2020 Liberty University graduate:
D.J. Jordan, a publicist who graduated from Liberty in 2002, said Falwell’s previous controversial actions did not make the same waves as his Instagram post did this week. He said the school received more phone calls and emails from pastors around the country than it ever had before.
“This was a tipping point that was so obvious because there was photo evidence,” he said. “It was like, here we are, being hypocritical, and we don’t want our faith to be perceived that way.”
Jordan, who played football at Liberty and met his wife there, said he gets strange looks when he says he went to Liberty since he is Black and works in Washington. Most people, he said, know about the school because they see Falwell on television. The board’s quick decision Friday, he said, was shocking because the leaders have not reprimanded Falwell for his other controversial behavior.
“We never imagined the board taking this kind of discipline,” he said.
They also interviewed Derek Rockey, last year’s student body president:
“It sure is sobering,” said Derek Rockey, 22, who is finishing his degree at Liberty after a term as student body president this past year. “It’s not something that myself or any of my friends who are concerned about Liberty thought would happen.”
He supports the board’s decision, he said. “I do think, with all the events that have piled up, it makes sense,” so that Liberty can restore the faith of the people who love the school. “The school’s motto is ‘Training champions for Christ,’” Rockey said. “People have been extremely concerned over the past months and years. … The school means so much for the Christian community.”
ABS 8 News in Richmond has local reaction to Falwell’s removal.
The aforementioned Calum Best has a piece on this whole mess at The Bulwark.
Stay tuned. This story is still developing.