Falwell: “I’m gonna try to be a good boy from here on out”

jerry-falwell-696x362

Listen to Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. try to explain why he posted this picture of himself.

Politico also has a story on this. Here is a taste:

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said on Wednesday that he had apologized for posting a photo of him in unzipped pants and arm around a woman — but also defended the incident as a vacation “costume party” that was “just in good fun.”

The now-deleted photo showed Falwell, a leading evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump, with his pants unzipped and his underwear showing beneath, while he had one arm around a woman whose shorts also appeared to be unbuttoned and his other holding a glass with a dark-colored liquid. The photo appeared to be on board a yacht.

Read the rest here.

Why did Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. post a picture of himself with his pants unbuckled, underwear showing, a glass of “wine” in his hand, and his arm around a woman’s waist?

Jerry Falwell Jr. just can’ stop doing stuff like this.

Falwell tweet

Here is Relevant magazine:

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. posted — and then apparently deleted — a bizarre Instagram post in which he appeared with his shirt hiked up and his pants unzipped, standing next to a woman identified as a “friend.” In the caption, Falwell wrote the drink he was holding was “just black water” and a “prop only.”

The post was captured by Houston Chronicle reporter Robert Downen before it was deleted. The caption says that “Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht.”

Apparently the folks at Liberty University’s Falkirk Center tried to get him off the hook:

In the hours after the screenshot of the photo was posted, Falkirk Center fellow Malachi O’Brien tweeted that the photo was “not President Falwell.” The Falkirk Center is the conservative thinktank Falwell started in partnership with Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk. O’Brien deleted that tweet and posted an update, confirming “it was Jerry.”

O’Brien also said that the photo in question was “taken out of context of the other photos w/ it.”

“What it was was being used to imply is ungodly & seems to have been posted out of context for that reason,” O’Brien tweeted.

Read the entire piece here.

Maybe there is indeed black water in the glass. Maybe we are seeing Falwell’s SPEEDO and not his underwear. Some have told me the girl in the picture is a family friend. Or perhaps the picture needs some context.

But all of this does not dismiss the fact that at some point Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of a large Christian university, thought that it was a good idea to pose for this picture and then post it on his Instagram page.

UPDATE (3:04pm): This pic is apparently related to this video:

Jerry Falwell Jr. Deleted Trailer Park Boys Yacht Video from PulpitPen on Vimeo.

“Jerry Falwell’s dream of athletic domination is in peril” as Black athletes leave Liberty University

Liberty_University_Flames_stadium,_Lynchburg,_VA_IMG_4118

I was happy to help Joel Anderson with this piece at Slate.

Here is a taste:

Liberty’s football team has indeed come a long way since its inaugural season in 1973, when the Flames lost their first game to Massanutten Military Academy by 10 points. Liberty now plays in the top division of college football, the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A, and earned its first bowl victory in December. But to get to where Falwell Jr. wants to be, the university needs the caliber of athletes—many of them Black, like Land and Clark—that he has increasingly alienated with his far-right activism. (Nearly half of Division I football players are Black, according to the NCAA’s demographics database.)

“In order for them to attract the kind of players they need to become a top Division I school, they need to go recruiting people, Black and white, who aren’t necessarily perfect fits for a place like Liberty,” said John Fea, a historian of American religion at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. “They’ve gotta go beyond the megachurch youth group.”

In our conversation just before his announcement, Land made it clear that football was never a problem for him at Liberty. The training facilities at the school were top notch. He’d acquitted himself well as a freshman defensive back, playing in 11 of 13 games, including five starts, and finishing with 23 tackles. He was projected to start as a sophomore. It was everything he dealt with off the field, Land said, that made it hard for him to recommend the experience to anyone else.

Read the rest entire piece here.

ADDENDUM (August 2, 2020). After rereading this piece, I also realize Anderson quoted me on race:

This school was borne out of a culture that was systemically racist,” said Fea, the Messiah University professor who has written extensively about Liberty on his website. “And they won’t address that because they don’t even believe in it.

Jerry Falwell Jr. supports Trump’s decision to delay the election

Of course he does

File Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. at a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Here is Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University:

Indeed, Trump confidant Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, said he would support Trump’s call to delay the election “until things are normal so people can walk in.”

“If it takes a few more months, then so be it,” Falwell said in an interview, raising the prospect of limiting the president’s powers if the delay extends beyond his first term.

The founder of the Federalist Society is not even with Trump on this one.

University of Lynchburg alums: cut ties with Falwell Jr. and Liberty

Westover Hall

Apparently there is a plaque commemorating Jerry Falwell Sr. on a dorm at the University of Lynchburg in Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg, of course, is also the home of Liberty University, the Christian college Falwell founded. Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell Jr., is currently president of Liberty University.  If this story is not interesting enough, the dorm, called Westover Hall, was built in part with money donated by Liberty University.

Here is a taste of Richard Chumney’s piece at The Lynchburg News & Advance:

Former University of Lynchburg students are calling on the school to cut ties with Liberty University and to rename part of a campus facility dedicated to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the religious institution’s founder.

In the past two weeks, an online petition demanding the school end its relationship with Liberty has garnered more than 700 signatures. Some former students have appealed directly to school leadership and others have taken to social media as part of a push to distance the two Hill City universities from one another.

Falwell Sr., who briefly attended what was then known as Lynchburg College in the 1950s, was a major figure in conservative politics throughout much of his adult life and a near-constant source for controversy.

His name is now enshrined on a plaque at the rooftop terrace of the new 90,000-square-foot Westover Hall, a $22 million residence hall that opened last fall and was built in part with money donated by Liberty.

In interviews explaining their opposition, former students pointed to what they said was a long history of bigoted remarks by Falwell Sr. aimed at people of color, queer individuals and religious minorities.

“His values do not align with what the University of Lynchburg says they want to be,” said Johnathan Harris, a 2002 graduate who penned a letter to school leadership asking them to remove Falwell’s name from the dorm’s terrace. “His rhetoric represented that of racism, bigotry, placism and sexism until the last day.”

Read the rest here.

Perhaps my recent post on the George Whitefield statue at the University of Pennsylvania might be helpful here.

Liberty University files $10 million lawsuit against *The New York Times*

President Donald Trump attends the Liberty University Commencement Ceremony

This is what evangelical Christian institutions do these days.

Here is WSLS News:

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. announced that his school has filed a lawsuit against The New York Times.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning, is for $10 million, as well as $350,000 in punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and other costs.

The net proceeds awarded through this lawsuit will be contributed by Liberty University to nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting people and businesses recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and related economic lockdowns, according to Liberty.

Read the entire piece here.

In other Falwell Jr. news, the Liberty University president is now defending Trump on the alt-Right Breitbart News radio show.

He also told Breitbart that Liberty University will open in the Fall with no social distancing or masks.

Friday night court evangelical roundup

Trump-Bachmann-Pence-religious-right

What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since our last update?

Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel-Chino Hills doesn’t like masks:

On his FB page, Jim Garlow is pushing Hydroxychloroquine and his love for Brazilian president Boldonaro:

Brazilian President Bolsonaro is healing from Covid-19 with Hydroxychloroquine. We spent time with him in Brazil in Dec 2018. He is an exceptional leader. (IMPORTANT: Dr. Vladimir Zelenko has treated 2,400 Covid-positive patients in New York City, and has only lost one – with a protocol of Hydroxychloroquine with over-the-counter Zinc, and Azithromycin if…if…if begun in the first five days. After that, it does not help.)

At least Tony Perkins admits it is an “angry fringe.” From FB:

If we want our leaders to stop giving in to the angry fringe that wants to erase our history and destroy our freedom, we need to stop being complacent. The church has to pray, as the disciples did, for the courage and boldness to face the cancel culture of our day and proclaim the gospel truth. The future of our country depends on it.

Robert Jeffress is still mad at CNN’s Don Lemon. (I wrote about this yesterday). The court evangelicals are getting a lot of mileage out of this one:

Richard Land, the leader of an evangelical theological seminary, tweets about “civil religion” as if it is a good thing for the church:

Jerry Falwell Jr. supports an effort to rename the town of Lynchburg, Virginia. No word yet whether or not he wants to rename it “Liberty.” 🙂

He claims that the reason his father changed the name of “Lynchburg Baptist College” to “Liberty Baptist College” in 1976 was because the name of the town was an “embarrassment” because the word “lynch” was in the name.

This all sounds like Falwell Jr.’s effort to do damage control after Black faculty and student athletes left Liberty University after his blackface tweet.

By the way, according to Jerry Falwell Jr.’s mother Macel Falwell in her book Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy, the name was changed because Jerry Falwell was concerned that a large monetary gift for his college was inadvertently sent to Lynchburg College, the liberal arts college down the road. Althought I am also pretty sure the Bicentennial (1976) had something to do with the name change. When the name was changed before the 1975-76 school year, Liberty changed its school colors from green and gold to red, white and blue.

Until next time.

Friday night court evangelical roundup

Trump court evangelicals

What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since yesterday’s update?

Eric Metaxas and his guest entertain the idea that there is a relationship between a COVID-19 vaccine and the “mark of the beast” in the book of Revelation. His guest is this guy.

Today Donald Trump tried to protect Confederate monuments. Gary Bauer loves it:

Johnnie Moore, the guy who calls himself a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” is doing his part for the Trump campaign. Ivanka will be pleased:

Robert Jeffress is on Lou Dobbs denying the fact that Trump’s numbers among evangelicals are dipping and Biden’s numbers are rising. He continues to repeat the false claim that Virginia governor Ralph Northam wants to kill babies after they are born.

But Jeffress can’t argue with the facts. He says that the dip in evangelical support for Trump is only temporary. Eventually white evangelicals will embrace the playbook and come back to their political savior. You can always tell when Jeffress is worried–he raises his voice, yells, and points at the camera. For Jeffress, the November election is between “anarchy” and “law and order.” Yes, Joe Biden, the “anarchy” candidate. 🙂

Watch:

It’s a big weekend at Jeffress’s church. This is the Sunday his congregation waves American flags and shoots off indoor fireworks as they sing praises to Baal the American god.

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is worried about Black liberation theology. Today on its Facebook page:

Intersectionality, liberation theology, white fragility, white privilege. We hear these terms a lot, but where do they come from? A lot of the Christians supporting movements like Black Lives Matter, the idea of white privilege, and identity politics, whether they know it or not, are paying homage to a heretical teaching known as Black Liberation Theology. Virgil Walker and Darrell Harrison offer some insight into this fundamentally corrupt theology and how it’s influencing and corroding the Christian analysis and response on the leftist lies being perpetuated today.

This is a classic white evangelical move. Instead of coming to grips with problems of race and the plight of African Americans, past and present, evangelicals try divert attention by warning their constituencies about false doctrine. This reminds me of my years at an evangelical college in the 1980s when my white classmates said that we should not take Martin Luther King Jr. seriously because he was theologically “liberal.” (I write this as an evangelical Christian who does not subscribe to liberation theology).

Charlie Kirk is defending his Liberty University colleague Jerry Falwell by sharing a pro-Falwell article published in the alt-Right Breitbart News:

Trump’s court evangelical journalist:

Until now.

Saturday night court evangelical roundup

Trump court evangelicals

What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since yesterday’s update?

Liberty University’s pro-Trump Falkirk Center doesn’t see the irony of today’s tweet:

Trump wonder-boy Charlie Kirk needs another lesson in historical thinking.

He assumes that when these colleges were founded they were “on the Left.” It is also worth noting that all of them have been addressing their slave pasts.

Yale

Georgetown (founded by a bunch of lefty 18th-century Catholics)

Brown

Columbia

People are transferring from Liberty University:

“What has Trump done that you disagree with?” When Newsweek asked this question to Jerry Falwell Jr., he said “I can’t think of anything. He’s been the best president ever, except for George Washington…”

Apparently Chif-fil-A is now woke:

Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece and the My Pillow guy are in Tulsa for tonight’s Trump rally:

Greg Laurie writes, “When I first was getting to know Billy Graham, he invited me to his home in Montreat, North Carolina, outside of Asheville. Going to the home of Billy Graham was better, in my estimation, than going to the Oval Office…”

Pence will head to Dallas after tonight’s rally in Tulsa:

Most of Eric Metaxas Facebook wall is now devoted to sharing stories from a writer at The Stream named John Zmirak.

Disease expert Anthony Fauci is concerned about an “anti-science” bias in America. Franklin Graham tries to discredit him:

And he follows-up with this:

Friday night court evangelical roundup

Trump Beleive me

What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since yesterday’s update?

They are not technically “court” evangelicals, but they are definitely Trump evangelicals. The Harris family is back and they are now a Trump worship band:

Some of you may remember them from 2012:

The Harris’s are an evangelical homeschool family from Tulsa.

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., seems to like the Harris family. She retweeted this today:

Glad to see Jentezen Franklin acknowledging Juneteenth:

Franklin Graham too:

Tony Perkins is beating the “law and order” drum:

He is also retweeting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

Al Mohler has not abandoned the Christian Right playbook in the wake of Gorsuch’s opinion in the recent LCBTQ Civil Rights decision:

Jim Garlow is writing about “biblical principles of economics.” I assume he means the part of the Bible written by Adam Smith:

Charlie Kirk forgot to mention the coronavirus mask designed by his friend and partner, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University. But I guess that’s not technically blackface:

Kirk know something about the past, but his historical thinking skills need a lot of work:

Here we go again:

Thomas Kidd, Mark David Hall, Brooke Allen, and Steve Green will participate in a Falkirk Center forum. At least David Barton is not involved.

Robert Jeffress is back on Fox Business. Channel. Apparently Chick-fil-A is taking some heat.

Jeffress thinks that racism will “evaporate overnight” if people just turned to God. Again, he fails to see that the sin of racism is structural–it is deeply embedded in our all of our institutions.  I recall the argument of  James Davison’s Hunter‘s book To Change the World”: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. In that book, Hunter argues that individual transformation is not the best way to change the world. True change does not happen through some kind of Protestant populism, but rather by the “work of elites: gatekeepers who provide creative direction and management within spheres of social life.” Such change takes generations and it can only “be described in retrospect.” Individual spiritual transformation can bring about good ends, but it does not change the “moral fabric” or “DNA of a civilization.” I think Hunter’s words are an important reminder that the eradication of systemic racism is going to take a long time and a lot of work.

Jeffress also defends the phrase “all lives matter.”

Until next time.

Being black at Liberty University

Liberty_University_LaHaye_Student_Union_IMG_4121 (1)

Over at Slate, Ruth Graham has a sobering piece on LeeQuan McLaurin, the Liberty University alum and employee who resigned in the wake of president Jerry Falwell Jr.’s racist blackface tweet. Since leaving Liberty, McLaurin has started the Liberty University Underground Railroad.

Here is a taste:

LeeQuan McLaurin thought it would be “the simplest of actions” for his department at Liberty University, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, to post something on social media in response to the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality. But in this case, Liberty’s director of diversity retention says he encountered nothing but delays and confusion from colleagues when he tried to get approval for a post. According to McLaurin, his boss—the office’s director, Greg Dowell, who is also black—said a post was unnecessary. Then the topic came up at a larger meeting, still with no action. On June 1, McLaurin finally went ahead and posted something himself to the office’s account: a simple image reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and a caption citing six Bible verses backing up the slogan. Within an hour, McLaurin said, an administrator had removed the post. (McLaurin shared a screengrab of the post with Slate, but the administrator did not respond to a request for comment.)

McLaurin, who had worked at Liberty since he graduated from the school in 2015, resigned in early June, an act he described as the culmination of accumulated years of frustration at a school he loved. For him, the current moment is a time for both optimism and regret. He recalled feeling sick sitting as a chaperone to a mostly white student group at a “Blexit” event that black conservative activist Candace Owens held in Richmond, Virginia, last year—a rally intended to convince black voters to leave the Democratic Party. Liberty had offered the outing as a “cultural excursion.” McLaurin said that someone outside his department sent out an all-campus email about it from McLaurin’s Liberty email account without his permission. Backstage after the event, watching Owens surrounded by adoring white people, “it felt like I was in a horror movie.” “I cannot encourage students of color to go to that university the way that it is,” McLaurin said. “Our students deserve better. Our faculty deserve better. Our staff deserves better.” (A Liberty spokesman declined my request for interviews with Dowell and Jerry Falwell Jr. and did not respond to a detailed list of questions.)

Read the rest here.

What is happening to Liberty University? In the past year:

  • The school lost a star basketball player over Falwell Jr.’s racist tweet.
  • Prominent African-American alumni say that they cannot endorse the school.
  • The university dumped its philosophy department.
  • A vice-president wrote an op-ed in the alt-Right Breitbart News.
  • Falwell Jr. threatened a New York Times reporters with a late night phone message.
  • A former university executive says Falwell Jr. “doesn’t think anyone should be able to tell him what to do, and he’s going to do whatever he wants….”
  • At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, an English professor pleaded, “Please stop Jerry Falwell Jr. before it’s too late.”
  • When a parent questioned the president’s decision to keep the university open during the coronavirus, Falwell Jr. called him a “dummy.”
  • A new Liberty University think tank, created to promote Christian nationalism and Donald Trump, suggested that the biblical command to “turn the other cheek” is no longer sufficient in today’s political climate.
  • Perhaps the most well-known member of the Liberty faculty left.
  • When Politico published a piece critical of Falwell Jr. and his running of the university, he called it an “attempted coup” and “criminal conspiracy” against him.
  • Falwell Jr. admitted that he is not involved in the spiritual or Christian dimensions of Liberty University. The Liberty chaplain defended him.

Let’s remember that not all Christian colleges are the same.

Asia Todd, a Liberty University Basketball Player and Member of the Atlantic-Sun All Freshman Team, Transfers After Falwell Jr.’s Racist Tweet

Asia Todd announced that she is leaving Liberty University’s women’s basketball team because of the university administration’s “racial insensitivities.” She is most likely referring to this tweet from Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr.:

FalwellTweetMasks-796x1024

Falwell Jr. has since apologized for the tweet, but it appears to have been too little too late for Todd.

Here is her tweet:

Here is a transcript of her video tweet:

Hello everyone, my name is Asia Todd and I am here to inform you guys that I have decided to enter my into the transfer portal and that I will no longer be attending Liberty University. Please know that this decision was not taken lightly. This decision had nothing to do with basketball or the program. This decision was simply bigger than basketball. Now the basketball program, the coaching staff, and my teammates at Liberty was amazing. I developed lifelong relationships that I will cherish forever. However, due to the racial insensitivities shown within the leadership and culture, it simply does not align with my moral compass or personal convictions. Therefore, I had to do what I felt was best within my heart and stand up for what is right. I pray that you guys respect my decision and that you guys also pray for me as I am seeking for a new home and a great fit. Thank you.

In her freshman year at Liberty, Todd averaged 8.6 points and shot over 41% from the three point line. She scored 24 points in a March 2, 2020 victory over Kennesaw State. She was a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team (the first Liberty player to receive this honor), the MVP of the Roo Holiday Classic, Atlantic Sun Newcomer and Freshman of the Week for March 3, 2020, and the first Liberty freshman with back-to-back 20-point games since the 2009-2010 season.

 

Wednesday Night Court Evangelical Roundup

Trump-Bachmann-Pence-religious-right

What have Trump’s evangelicals been saying since yesterday’s update?

Jentezen Franklin’s church made breakfast for the police:

In our current context, this tweet from Paula White takes on new meaning:

Here is Eric Metaxas today on his Facebook page:

Murder has always been illegal in America. What’s new is the demonization of all cops because of the vile crimes of men like Chauvin. It’s preciesely like when Americans spat on returning Vietnam vets & called them “baby killers.” It was DEEPLY shameful and wrong then & this is deeply shameful and wrong NOW. So let’s have the courage THIS time to denounce it while it’s happening — NOW — and not two decades later.

The facts are not the issue. The issue is Metaxas’s defensiveness and his unwillingness to use his platform to address larger issues of systemic and institutional racism in our society.

Here is Charlie Kirk:

Let’s also remember that Hattie McDaniel was not permitted to attend the premiere of Gone With the Wind, had her face removed from all advertising for the film, and sat at a segregated table for two in the back of the room during the 1940 Academy Awards ceremony. She was only permitted to attend the ceremony because someone owed someone a favor.

Liberty University’ Falkirk Center, whose co-founder Jerry Falwell has his own problems related to racism, is turning to Diamond & Silk:

So far we have heard no condemnation or comment from the court evangelicals about this tweet:

The Liberty University Underground Railroad

Quan

LeeQuan McLaurin

After Jerry Falwell Jr. posted a racist tweet, LeeQuan McLaurin, a director of diversity retention at Liberty, resigned in protest. Now, according to a piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education, McLaurin has created an “LUnderground Railroad” to “raise money for Liberty University employees who want to leave but can’t afford to.” Here is a taste of The Chronicle piece:

In an interview Tuesday, McLaurin, a 2015 graduate of Liberty, said he’s worked in three offices there and that microaggressions are common. He said a supervisor in a student-advising office advised one of McLaurin’s colleagues not to get his hair styled in dreadlocks “because it doesn’t look professional.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the “LUnderground Railroad” GoFundMe page had raised more than $5,300 toward its $30,000 goal. McLaurin said he’s heard from many employees who want to leave but are afraid they won’t be able to support their families, given Lynchburg’s shortage of available housing and high poverty rates.

Liberty, a private evangelical college, is a major employer in Lynchburg. It has around 46,000 undergraduates and an enrollment of more than 100,000 when online students are included.

“What weighs most heavily on me is not that I don’t have a job — I know God will provide for me — but hearing colleagues tear up because they want to leave, but they can’t afford to,” McLaurin said.

As director of diversity retention, he was a staff member in Liberty’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, and oversaw efforts to keep minority and other underrepresented students enrolled. He said that between 2007 and 2018, Liberty’s residential undergraduate African American population dropped from 10 percent to 4 percent. A Liberty spokesman declined to confirm or refute those figures.

Among the employees who have left recently is Keyvon Scott, a 2019 Liberty graduate who had been working as an admissions counselor for the university’s sprawling online program.

“The mask was just the tipping point,” he said on Tuesday. “As an admissions officer, I’m supposed to be promoting Liberty, especially when an African American calls and asks about diversity.” Scott, who said he was often the only African American person in his classes, said he could no longer do that.

Scott said some people lashed out at him for leaving and not sticking around and fighting back. “The thing is, I had to leave,” he said. “That’s how I take a stand.”

Read the entire piece here.

Here is the official statement from the LUnderground website:

Help staff and faculty at LU suffering from racial trauma and unable to leave due to financial restraints. 

No one should be subject to racial and workplace trauma (https://bit.ly/RacialTrauma  ) in order to earn a living. Liberty University, while for many is a beacon for believers, for others, it may be just a source of stable income within the Lynchburg area. Lynchburg is a city that is well known for its struggle with poverty. Economic issues include a lack of affordable housing, lack of significant economic growth, and a poverty rate that is nearly 7 percentage points higher than other Virginia cities (with the poverty rate of Black people being nearly double that of white people in the city) (https://bit.ly/LYHPoverty  ). 

With Liberty University as one of the major employers of the city, it naturally has attracted many employees, a fair portion of whom are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). While there is a lot to be said and debated about Liberty’s ‘economic impact’ on Lynchburg, and the surrounding areas, that is a discussion for another time. And trust me, there will be another time. While at the university many employees have experienced incidents of discrimination, prejudice, and general racial trauma. This institution has yet to grapple with its long-standing issues relating to racism and has consistently placed the burden of coping with the effects stemming from such on their BIPOC employees. 

The institution will often trust in, and has ultimately abused, their financial influence on the Lynchburg area in order to ignore their responsibility for racial and workplace trauma that is inflicted on BIPOC employees. A common statement that is heard around the university is “If you don’t like it here, then leave.” Most people in Lynchburg know that with the city’s economic state, the solution is not always as simple as leaving. Rather than work to make the university a healthier and safer work environment for its employees, the institution would rather ask people to either endure the racial and workplace trauma or leave.

Due to a strong culture of fear that exists within the university, many employees are afraid to speak out and share their experiences (https://bit.ly/FearCulture  ). Even more are afraid to leave due to fear that they would be unable to financially support their families. Several employees have attempted to file reports, but since the university often refuses to acknowledge the existence of very real things such as systemic racism, they have either been ignored or faced retaliatory consequences. 

As I explained when I turned in my letter of resignation, no one at LU understands what it is like to be a Black man working at a conservative evangelical predominantly white institution, and to then be faced with constant instances of racism (big and small alike), as you’re also fighting to change campus culture, while simultaneously hearing of yet another one of our brothers or sisters who have been murdered, and will not see justice, AND on top of all of that to deal with our own institutional issues only to have my hands completely tied. *breathe, I know that was a lot* 

Since announcing my resignation, so many colleagues, peers, students, alumni, and strangers have reached out to me. Most of these interactions have been pretty positive. However, the ones that haven’t been, have made the biggest impact on me. Several Black colleagues have shared that they wished they could leave as well, but they have families and/or financial responsibilities that force them to remain at LU. A few with tears in their eyes. Hurting. They know that they just have to swallow this hurt and pain, while also grieving with the rest of their community because their livelihoods rely on it. Some have already left, and have shared they have no idea how they are going to pay their rent come July, let alone other basic life necessities. Let’s not even talk about how the reputation of the university has hindered their prospects with future employers. 

This isn’t right. Since I left, so many people have chosen to graciously donate their hard-earned dollars (in the midst of a pandemic and economic recession, mind you) to me. This overwhelming display of the good to be found in humanity has confirmed for me that God is in the midst of this. He is tired of his children being oppressed. Furthermore, He is tired of people using His name to accomplish this. 

This fund is being set up for all the LU employees that would like to leave, but are afraid of how it will affect them financially. Those conflicted with their identity as BIPOC, but also need to make a living through a tough economic situation. Not a penny of this money will go to me. God has already been more than gracious to me. It will be divided amongst the BIPOC employees who have already left, or need to leave, but are unable to leave due to financial issues. The goal is to assist at least 15 former LU employees (although there are many more) with $2,000 each ($30,000) which can help many through at least a month of basic expenses–a month where they can focus their efforts on searching for a workplace that will provide a safe, supportive environment where they can thrive as BIPOC, and leave behind a toxic, unhealthy workplace that never did. Any amount that you give will be greatly appreciated.

To be eligible for the emergency relief funds, employees must have experienced racial trauma at the hands of the university and resigned from their positions due to it. Those wishing to apply for the funds should email lundergroundrailroad@gmail.com. I will be posting updates about employees able to be helped and served by these funds.

*The New York Times* Covers Falwell’s Apology for His Racist Tweet

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. during a campaign event in Sioux City Iowa

Elizabeth Williamson of The New York Times, the same reporter who got into a kerfluffle with Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. over her supposed “trespassing” on the university campus during the height of the coronavirus, is now covering the story behind Falwell’s recent apology for a racist tweet.

Not familiar with this story? Get up to speed here and here and here and here.

Here is the tweet that started this mess:

FalwellTweetMasks-796x1024

What do we learn from Williamson’s reporting that we did not already know?

  1. Here is a quote from Keyvon Scott, an online admissions counselor who resigned after Falwell’s blackface tweet: “Your actions have shown you really don’t care about the black community, and that’s sad…You can’t say this is a Christian university, but then everything that comes out your mouth is about Trump?”
  2. While Falwell was defending his original tweet, members of the Liberty football and basketball teams were having “fraught meetings with coaches and staff to discuss George Floyd….” But basketball coach Ritchie McKay said, “I feel really good about what he’s [Falwell’s] done on our campus. Leadership styles are different. This is a great place to work, and our guys are having I think a life-shaping experience.”
  3. Keyvon Scott wonders if he will ever be employed again in his field because he has “Liberty University” on his vita. He said, “people take one look at Liberty University on my resume, and I always get asked the same question: Why would you go there?”
  4. After Falwell issued published the tweet and defended it, a regional broadcaster refused to run Liberty University advertising or content.
  5. The owner of a Lynchburg restaurant praised Falwell’s idea for a blackface coronavirus mask, saying “We would offer them to our staff as a mask option.” Protesters vandalized his restaurant and the man issued an apology.
  6. Prior to Monday, Falwell showed no remorse for the tweet and even promoted his blackface mask on a conservative television program. On the same program, Falwell’s wife Becki said that she did not approve of the mask or the tweet. Falwell laughed.
  7. One African-American pastor and Liberty graduate defended Falwell’s apology. He believes Falwell did not succumb to the pressure, but rather “his heart got right.”
  8. The African-American authors of a Change.Org petition want a face-to-face meeting with Falwell.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. Apologizes for His Racist Tweet

FalwellTweetMasks-796x1024

It looks like the pressure finally got to Jerry Falwell Jr.  But if Liberty alumni did not complain, and if two employees did not resign, would he still see the need to apologize?

Here is the background.

Here is Sarah Pulliam Bailey at The Washington Post:

Faced 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.

“Some draw a direct line between the start of President Falwell’s divisive, insensitive, and unapologetic approach to politics and that drop,” he wrote in the email. Since President Trump’s campaign, Falwell has been one of his most prominent evangelical supporters.

On Monday, Falwell apologized for his tweet after meeting with African American board members and some alumni, including former NFL athlete Rashad Jennings, who played college football at Liberty. Falwell tweeted that he wanted to remind people of the 2019 scandal in which Northam denied that the photo was his but admitted to wearing blackface.

“I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point. Based on our long relationships, they uniformly understood this was not my intent, but because it was the result,” Falwell wrote on Twitter. “I have deleted the tweet and apologize for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community.”

Following his apology, Falwell said in an interview that he was unaware of McLaurin’s resignation, as well as the resignation of another black staff member, Keyvon Scott, who was an online admissions counselor.

Read the rest here. I find it  hard to believe that Falwell did not know about these resignations.

Liberty University’s Director of Diversity Retention Has Resigned

Quan

Quan McLaurin

His name is Quan McLaurin.

I am assuming he is resigning because of this:

FalwellTweetMasks-796x1024

Here is his tweet:

Here is what he wrote on his LinkedIn page:

Yesterday I tendered my letter of resignation. As of July 2, 2020, I will no longer serve as the Director of Diversity Retention at Liberty University.

In other news, if you know of any good student affairs or diversity, equity, and inclusion positions that are available feel free to shoot them my way.

McLaurin has a bachelor’s degree in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology (2015) and a master’s degree in communication (2020). Both are from Liberty University.

As I wrote in a previous post today, the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center does not believe in white privilege or systemic racism.

Let’s remember that not all Christian colleges are the same.

Let’s Check-In on the Court Evangelicals

COurt Evangelicals

Here is what your favorite pro-Trump evangelical leaders–the court evangelicals— are saying about everything going in our country right now:

Robert Jeffress is using scripture to subtely suggest that Christians should obey their government. Once again, he is using the Bible and the flag in the same tweet:

Samuel Rodriguez said he was glad to see Trump brandishing the Bible “like a Boss.” He added, “I see Donald Trump going, ‘You all dare to burn a church behind the White House. How dare you? Let me show you something.”

Rodriguez also tweeted this:

I’m still trying to figure out how to reconcile the statement with the tweet.

Ralph Reed seems to be getting more and more desperate. He is trying to maintain composure on a sinking ship. Here he is tweeting a completely debunked piece at The Federalist:

Jerry Falwell Jr. and Charlie Kirk’s Falkirk Center at Liberty University weighs in:

The Falkirk Center seems unsure how to respond to all of this so it turned to Arnold Schwarzenegger. When will Jerry Falwell Jr. and Charlie Kirk learn that the future of American unity is happening in the streets of American cities right now? Don’t be deceived. The Falkirk Center believes in “national unity” on its own terms, and these are not the terms of the people who are in the streets right now. “Dispense of vitriol?” Just read the Center’s tweeter feed. Just read Kirk’s feed.

Speaking of Kirk:

FYI: Brees apologized today. Kirk has not.

Here’s more from Kirk:

And here is Eric Metaxas rejecting the idea of both white privilege and systemic racism. He says these ideas were manufactured by “cultural Marxists.” He says these things are “bizarre.” Let’s remember that Metaxas fashions himself as a historian. Maybe he should read some African-American history. Tune in at about the 16-minute mark:

Metaxas doesn’t even hide his partisanship anymore. Lately his show starts with attacks on Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden as part of a commercial for “My Pillow.”

And then in the second hour of his program on Wednesday he talked with Charlie Kirk:

At around the 28-minute mark, Metaxas addresses the Trump Bible photo-op. I will just let you watch it. Kirk says that anyone who criticized Trump’s use of the Bible at St. John’s Church is trying  to destroy Western Civilization.

At the 39-minute mark, Kirk calls white privilege a “racist and sinister lie.” He even makes the case that when Trump held-up the Bible he was somehow making a statement against white privilege and systemic racism. Metaxas responds with some pretty bad theology.  Just watch. There is only so much of this stuff I can take.

Jack Graham has finally weighed-in:

Yes, Trump did show solidarity with “people of faith”–the conservative evangelical Christians who support him. Did Trump really declare his faith in front of St. John’s church on Monday? Here is how he understands Christian faith. (From an interview last night with Sean Spicer):

David Dark had a nice response to this:

And there is today’s update on the current state of Trump-loving white evangelical Christianity. Learn more here:

African-American Alumni of Liberty University: “Because of your callous rhetoric, we can no longer in good faith encourage students to attend our alma mater or accept athletic scholarships”

Last week Jerry Falwell Jr. designed his own blackface COVID-19 mask. Read about it here. One African-American professor has resigned.

Here was his tweet:

FalwellTweetMasks-796x1024

Falwell defended himself and refused to apologize. Last night he tweeted:

People have asked why I won’t apologize for reminding people of @vagovernor racist past in a recent tweet. It’s because that same Gov just ended tuition assistance grants for the 27% of @LibertyU online students who are African-American! Put your $ where your mouth is Gov. Sad.

And now, 35 African-American pastors, ministry leaders, and former athletes who graduated from Liberty University (I’ve linked to as many as possible below) have rebuked Falwell Jr. for his racism. Liberty University students, alumni, staff, and parents are encouraged to endorse the letter by adding their signatures.

Here is the letter:

Dear President Jerry Falwell Jr, 

We are all African-American Evangelical pastors, ministry leaders, and former athletes who are alumni of Liberty University, and we are grateful for our college experiences. These experiences have shaped us in deep and profound ways and have equipped us to engage our local context with the Gospel of Jesus, both thoughtfully and unashamedly. The school’s mission is to educate and train champions for Christ to impact the culture, and we believe the objective has been achieved for many years. While we rejoice in God’s grace in advancing this mission, we, however,  have been disappointed and deeply grieved by your incendiary rhetoric over the past several years. 

The latest example is your May 27 tweet of a face mask with an image of two people, one in a KKK robe and hood and one appearing in blackface. While your tweet may have been in-jest about Virginia’s Governor, it made light of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism. It is what we’re called to reject as followers of Christ – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place…” (Ephesians 5:4, ESV). The reckless nature of this tweet is a microcosm of the past several years of divisive rhetoric that does not display the kind of Christian witness that the Gospel demands of us, nor does it represent the Christlike leadership that Liberty University deserves. It has brought further disgrace to Jesus Christ and Liberty University.

For several years, you have said and defended inappropriate statements that represent Liberty and our faith very poorly. You have belittled staff, students and parents, you have defended inappropriate behaviors of politicians, encouraged violence, and disrespected people of other faiths. We were all taught at Liberty about the sanctity of life (Jeremiah 1:5) and the dignity of every human – made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and yet, you have repeatedly violated and misrepresented core Christian principles (Romans 12:9-21) through brash tweets and statements that harm our Christian witness. 

While students, professors, and alumni have urged you to alter your rhetoric and repent, sadly nothing has changed. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that Liberty University is a family-owned organization and you are the sole authority. The Board of Trustees has no power to influence your behavior or hold you accountable. So, the objective of this letter is to appeal to you and your spiritual conviction. 

We are writing to urge you to stop this infantile behavior and lead our alma mater with dignity as your father did. Jerry Falwell Sr was more focused on preparing the next generation to courageously engage the culture as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He wasn’t perfect, but he was humble enough to confess ungracious and unbiblical comments, and apologize when he was wrong. The KKK robe and hood and blackface face mask tweet may seem funny to you, but this tweet is the action of a political commentator or activist and is not fitting nor acceptable for the leader of one of the largest Evangelical Christian schools in the world. A review of your social media and statements during your presidency would lead many to believe that you care much more about politics than Jesus Christ, Evangelism, and the discipleship of students. It has become obvious to many that your heart is in politics more than Christian academia or ministry, so we would encourage you to leave the position of school president and pursue politics full-time. 

Your statements hurt the ability of Liberty alumni to obtain jobs and have a voice in the culture. Having the school’s name on a resume can be a liability to many of our graduates. As much as you say that your statements and activism do not reflect the mission, values, faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Liberty University as a whole, this is a misguided position because everything you do and say is a reflection of Liberty University, whether you want it to be or not. You are the president of a Christian university with a platform of great influence and you have the unique responsibility to steward that role in a way that honors God first and foremost. 

Lastly, we leave you with this. Because of your callous rhetoric, we can no longer in good faith encourage students to attend our alma mater or accept athletic scholarships. There are many Christians of color who worship in our churches and communities; we will not recommend their attendance at L.U. as long as you continue the unChristlike rhetoric. We will no longer donate funds to the university. We will also actively encourage Christian leaders to decline the invitation to speak at Liberty if you continue to insist on making unChristlike and inappropriate statements that are misrepresentative of Biblical Christianity. 

In closing, we ask you to withdraw your racist tweet immediately and make a public apology. If you decide to stay at Liberty, this coalition stands ready to meet with you in order to provide counsel on ways for L.U. to best move forward in these racially-charged and divisive times. Liberty University deeply impacted us as students and we hope that you can return to a focus of training “young champions for Christ” with Biblical conviction and Christlike character and humility. Our ultimate goal is for Jesus to be glorified in all that we say and do. We pray that is your desire as well.

The letter is signed by:

Dr. Chris Williamson (Strong Tower Bible Church, TN), Class of ‘90 & ‘92

Pastor Eric Carroll (The Ascension Church RVA, VA), Class of ‘91

Eric Green (former NFL player, Liberty University Hall of Fame), Class of ’90

Pastor Eric Saunders (McLean Bible Church, VA), Class of ‘07

Walt Aikens (NFL player, football student-athlete), Class of ’14

Latasha Morrison (Founder, Be The Bridge), Class of ‘13

Minister Myles “Mac” Lawhorn (Epiphany Fellowship Church, PA), Class of ‘00

Obehi Idiake (Christian speaker, podcaster), Class of ‘14

Minister Maina Mwaura (author, speaker), Class of ‘97

Pastor Marcell Howard (Woodhaven Bible Church, MI) Class of ‘03 & ‘10

Lezlyn Parker (author, speaker), Class of ‘89

Richard Shelton (former NFL player, football student-athlete), Class of ’89

Khambrel “Kham” Rembert (Christian musician), Class of ‘17

Pastor Gavin Davis (McLean Bible Church, VA), Class of ‘06

Dorena McFarland Williamson (author, speaker), Class of ’91

Rev. Dr. Johnny Parker (author, speaker), graduate student ‘05

Dr. Joy Hervey (author, speaker), Class of ‘18

Johnny T. White (H.S. Coach, football student-athlete),Class of ‘93

Shomari Dixon (ministry leader), Class of ‘19

Wayne Haddix (former NFL player, football student-athlete), Class of ’88

Rev. Brian D. Woolfolk (First Mt. Zion Baptist Church, VA), Class of ‘92

Minister Tiffany Croom, Class of ‘13

Patrick Nelson (former NFL player), Class of ‘92

Shelton Lewis, (football student-athlete) Class of ’93

Carroll L. Ward (football student-athlete), Class of 90

Pastor James Hobson Jr.(Hill City Community Church, VA), Class of ‘11 & ‘17

Curtis Artis (Christian nonprofit leader), Class of ‘91

Keith Vinson (football student-athlete), Class of ’91

LaTasha Washington (Christian counselor), Class of ‘16

Allan Louder (Basketball Student-Athlete), Class of ’91

Dr. Andre Sims (Christ the King Bible Fellowship, WA), Class of ’88 & ’91

Pastor Jua Robinson (Charles River Baptist Church, MA), Class of ’04 & ’05

Joshua McMillion (Christian musician), Class of ‘17

Pastor Marion Mason (former LU Assistant Track Coach), Class of ‘06

Corey Rice (football student-athlete), Class of ‘93

 

YOU CAN SIGN IT HERE

Here is the Associated Press story.