Liberty University accepts Jerry Falwell Jr.’s resignation

Liberty Campus

Get up to speed with these posts. I think it is finally over.

Here is the Liberty University press release:

Lynchburg, VA—The Liberty University Board of Trustees acted today to accept the resignation of Jerry Falwell, Jr. as its President and Chancellor and also accepted his resignation from its Board of Directors. All were effective immediately.

After agreeing yesterday to immediately resign then reversing course, Falwell, through an attorney, sent the resignation letter late last night to members of the Board’s Executive Committee pursuant to the terms of his contract of employment. The Executive Committee met this morning and voted to accept all the resignations immediately and recommend ratification to the full Board. Later this morning, the full Board gathered via conference call and unanimously voted to affirm the decision of the Executive Committee. Falwell’s severance compensation was dictated by the terms of his pre-existing employment agreement without any adjustment by the University or its Board.

The Board, composed of a mix of alumni, pastors and business executives, active and retired, used most of its meeting to focus forward on the university’s future and steps that could be taken to ensure it remained true to its mission. The Board set its next meeting in Lynchburg to select a search committee for its new President.

Acting Board Chairman Dr. Allen McFarland, said, “I am so encouraged by the unity of Christ that I saw exemplified by our Board today. Liberty University’s future is very bright and in capable hands of leaders who are committed to being good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted!”

Jerry Prevo, who will stay on as Acting President, said, “Our students are ready to be world changers as Champions for Christ.  Their spirit is strong as they look to the future. I intend to do all I can to nurture their spiritual side as they grow academically and enjoy all our campus has to offer.”

Falwell was the fourth president of Liberty University, assuming the role after his father, Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., passed away in 2007. He previously served as the university’s general counsel. During his time as president, Falwell Jr. oversaw more than $1 billion of ongoing or planned construction as the campus was almost entirely transformed with new world-class academic buildings and athletics facilities. He worked with university leadership to achieve record enrollment in residential and online programs, which now stands at over 100,000 students. The university’s heartfelt prayers are with him and his family as he steps away from his life’s work.

I am now watching three things:

  1. What will happen to the Falkirk Center at Liberty University? This is the culture- war arm of  Liberty University and the place on campus most associated with Falwell’s divisive pro-Trump rhetoric. Falwell is no longer listed on the website.
  2. Will Liberty University conduct a national search for a new president? Or will someone be chosen from the inside?
  3. What is the relationship between the Falwell pool boy tryst and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign? I still think Michael Cohen may have something to say about this.

How did the court evangelicals respond to the first night of the Republican National Convention?

Short answer: They loved it.

Jack Graham retweeted several speeches. In the end, he summed it up this way:

I don’t think I was watching the same convention as Tony Perkins. (I will, however, say that much of Maximo Alvarez’s speech was moving):

Gary Bauer thought it was “powerful”:

Many of the court evangelicals really liked Natalie Harp’s speech:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody has some interesting things to say:

This tweet seems to suggest that the Democrats need to be fact-checked to the same degree as Trump. The only reason “fact-checking” during political convention has become popular is because Trump lies so much. There is no moral equivalence here.

Brody is also pushing this piece from The Spectator:

Brody is right about this:

But let’s admit that both Haley and Scott are among the few pro-Trump speakers who hold the president at arms length. They both have political ambitions.

Brody also seemed to like this line from Matt Gaetz:

I am not sure what to make of the following tweet. One could argue that Fox’s decision to keep Tucker on air during the convention may have been MORE helpful to the Trump cause:

Charlie Kirk spoke last night. He also had some time to tweet this:

Kirk’s colleague at the Liberty University Falkirk Center was in usual form:

Here Ellis tries to dance around the Falkirk Center’s connection to Jerry Falwell Jr.:

And here, the Christian spokesperson for Liberty’s Falkirk Center, calls AOC an ass:

Another Falkirk Center fellow is attacking CNN and Chris Cuomo:

It’s a big week for the court evangelicals!

OK, I think it is official now. Jerry Falwell Jr. resigns from Liberty University

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Again, here is Ian Lovett from The Wall Street Journal:

Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as president of Liberty University late Monday night, following a tumultuous day during which he tussled with the university’s board of trustees over his future at the school.

In a phone call to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Falwell said he had just sent his resignation letter to the board of the Christian school in Virginia. Mr. Falwell was placed on an indefinite leave of absence two weeks ago, following criticism about a photo he posted on social media showing him with his pants unbuttoned, a cup of dark liquid in one hand and his other arm draped around a woman. The woman, who Mr. Falwell said was his wife’s assistant, also had her pants open.

Read the rest here.

In a late night call to the *Wall Street Journal*, Jerry Falwell Jr. says he was placed on “indefinite leave” by “self-righteous people”

President Donald Trump attends the Liberty University Commencement Ceremony

If you can break through the paywall, check out Ian Lovett’s piece on Jerry Falwell Jr.’s on-again, off-again resignation from Liberty University. It was last updated at 1:03 this morning. Lovett talked to Falwell (it appears Falwell initiated the call) about his “indefinite leave” from Liberty and the negotiations surrounding his inevitable resignation.  Here is a taste:

“The board put me on leave, took away my duties as prez, and that’s not permitted by my contract,” Mr. Falwell said Monday night. “And they put me on leave because of pressure from self-righteous people.”

He said he was still due his full compensation.

Read the rest here.

Falwell’s description of his indefinite leave in this piece seems to contradict what he said in an earlier interview he did last night with Virginia Business in which he called the leave a “sabbatical” and an opportunity for him to “take a three-month break” from his Liberty duties.

It is also strange that Falwell doesn’t say anything in this Wall Street Journal story about the Reuters story about his wife’s affair with Giancarlo Grande and his involvement in the tryst. At one point he claims that he has done nothing wrong apart from the “stupid” Instagram photo he posted earlier month. This, of course, contradicts his Sunday night statement confession to the Washington Examiner.

Falwell Jr. seems defiant. Says the pool boy’s story is “90% false” and claims he took an “indefinite leave” because he “needed a short break from work”

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Now this is the Jerry Falwell we have come to know.

According to The New York Times, Liberty University will make an official announcement about Jerry Falwell’s future tomorrow. (This is an ever changing story. The posts at this blog are in chronological order). But Falwell seems defiant. He has denied interviews to several news outlets, but he seems to trust a website called Virginia Business. Tonight he told reporter Kate Andrews that the pool boy’s Giancarlo Granda’s account of his affair with Becki Falwell is “90& false.” He also seems to think his “indefinite leave” is something akin to a sabbatical.

Here is the Virginia Insider piece:

Although other news outlets have reported that Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to resign as president and chancellor of Liberty University, Falwell said in an interview Monday evening with Virginia Business that such reports are “completely false.”

He said that he has not agreed to leave the post permanently, nor does he plan to, although he is on an indefinite leave of absence following a series of controversies this summer. Falwell added that Reuters’ report released Monday that a former business associate, Giancarlo Granda, had a years-long affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki, with his full knowledge was “90% false.”

Falwell said in a brief phone interview Monday that he had told the Liberty Board of Trustees earlier in the summer that he needed a short break from work.

After he posted what he called a “stupid picture” on Instagram — a photo he says his wife took of him and her assistant, both of whom had their pants unzipped and bellies sticking out — the board said it would be better to call the sabbatical a “leave of absence,” Falwell said. “I don’t care what you call it. I’ve been at this for so many years and under so much stress, I decided I needed a three-month break.”

He said he’s “enjoying it, except for the press.”

Read the entire piece here.

Is Falwell Jr. looking for a golden parachute?

Liberty Trump

The Washington Post religion team is on this:

Jerry Falwell Jr., a real estate developer who became a passionate defender of President Trump and took over a Christian university meant to evangelize the world, agreed to resign during negotiations Monday, according to a university official, after a series of sordid scandals rocked the huge school he has led since 2007. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, later said there was a holdup to finalizing negotiations, and Falwell said later Monday night that no agreement was in place.

Opposition to his presidency had been growing but came to a dramatic head after two new reports about a young man Falwell and his wife befriended at a Florida pool, went into business with and who allegedly was sexually connected to the couple. One report painted Falwell as the victim of an obsessive affair; the other as an eager participant manipulating a naive young man.

At the last minute, Falwell’s purported exit became complicated. Reached by phone Monday night, Falwell said he is not resigning. He referred further questions to his public relations team, which has not issued a comment. According to the university official, a resignation process had started, then broke down. Discussions between the two sides continued into Monday evening.

They also have quotes from court evangelical Robert Jeffress and Karen Swallow Prior:

Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist pastor in Dallas who also supports Trump, said he has high regard for the university and has spoken there several times. He said was unaware of Granda’s allegations about Falwell and his wife.

“Jerry has done a great job in building a tremendous school,” Jeffress said. “The allegations, if true, should be a warning of the destructive power of sin.”

She said that Falwell’s behavior often played out on social media, and the school’s leadership was often ignorant of how he treated some people.

“It’s been months, if not years, of having a leader whose power and words have been unchecked,” said Prior, who now works for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor who worked for the university for 21 years, said that morale at the school has been low under Falwell’s “authoritarian” leadership. She said that frustration has been building over the past several months, but there were several recent incidents that particularly upset Liberty students and graduates.

Read the entire piece here.

Association Press: “Official says Falwell leaving Liberty; Falwell says he’s not”

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

This story is fast-breaking.

Here is Sarah Rankin and Elana Schor:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jerry Falwell Jr.’s future at evangelical Liberty University was unclear late Monday, with a senior school official saying he had resigned from his leadership post but Falwell telling several news outlets that he does not plan to leave permanently.

A formal announcement from the school was expected later in the day, according to the school official, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. The disclosure of Falwell’s resignation followed the publication of news stories about his wife’s sexual encounters with a much younger business partner.

On Monday night, attorneys for Falwell and the school were negotiating the details of a possible departure, according to a person close to the school’s board of trustees who also spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss it.

But several news outlets quoted Falwell as saying that he has not agreed to leave the post permanently, nor does he plan to.

Falwell, who was already on an indefinite leave of absence, did not return a call from the AP seeking comment.

Read the rest here.

The Latest: Falwell Jr. says he has NOT resigned as president of Liberty University

West Virginia

This story gets more intriguing by the hour. Now Falwell says he has not resigned. Here is Maggie Severns and Michael Stratford at Politico:

Jerry Falwell Jr. says he is not resigning as president and chancellor of Liberty University, contradicting news reports announcing his departure from the Evangelical school.

“I have not resigned. How did those reports get out? I don’t know,” Falwell told POLITICO on a phone call on Monday evening. “I have not resigned. I will be on indefinite leave.”

A Liberty University spokesperson earlier on Monday responded affirmatively to a reporter’s text message seeking confirmation of whether Falwell was resigning. The spokesperson added that a formal statement would be “forthcoming.”

But later on Monday evening, the spokesperson declined to comment, saying in a text message: “I cannot say anything and I can only give a statement from the Board if they give me a statement.”

Read the rest here.

Jerry Falwell Jr. resigns as president of Liberty University

falwell-jr

Here is Yonat Shimron at Religion News Service:

Jerry Falwell Jr. the embattled president of Liberty University and one of the biggest champions of President Donald Trump, has resigned, Religion News Service has learned. 

His resignation came within hours of the publication of a news story that alleged he and his wife Becki had a years-long sexual relationship with a business associate. 

Falwell had been placed on indefinite leave earlier this month after posting, then deleting, a provocative Instagram photo of him posing with his arm around a woman at a party with their zippers down and midriffs showing.

Read the rest here.

The “pool boy” tells his side of the story and it’s pretty damning for the Falwells

Becki and Jerry

Here is Aram Roston at Reuters:

WASHINGTON – In a claim likely to intensify the controversy surrounding one of the most influential figures in the American Christian conservative movement, a business partner of Jerry Falwell Jr has come forward to say he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell’s wife and the evangelical leader.

Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview. Now 29, he described the liaisons as frequent – “multiple times per year” – and said the encounters took place at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.

His friendship with the Falwells eventually soured, Granda told Reuters, in part because he wanted to dissolve his ties with the couple and fell into a business dispute with them.

And this:

On Sunday night, however, as Reuters was preparing to publish this article, Jerry Falwell issued a statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said that his wife had had an affair with Granda and that Granda had been trying to extort money from the couple over the matter. Granda denies any such intent, saying he was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he says he had with the couple.

Falwell’s statement Sunday to the Examiner said nothing about Granda’s account alleging that the evangelical leader had his own role in the affair, and Falwell didn’t address questions from Reuters about it. In the statement quoted by the Examiner, Falwell said that “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved.”

And this:

The material Granda showed Reuters includes screenshots from what Granda said was a FaceTime conversation he had with the Falwells in 2019. During that call, Granda said, Becki was naked as the two discussed their relationship while Jerry peeked from behind a door. Reuters was able to verify Granda’s description of the screenshots. 

Granda also shared an audio recording that he says captures a conversation he had with the Falwells in 2018. In it, Becky complained about Granda describing his relationships with other people: “He’s like telling me every time he hooks up with people. Like I don’t have feelings or something.” Jerry then chimed in: “You’re going to make her jealous.” “I’m not trying to do that,” Granda replied.

Earlier texts show a friendly and romantic dynamic between Granda and Becki Falwell. One 2012 text message, which Granda said came from Becki, read in part: “Right now I am just missing you like crazy …. Have you had this effect on all of your lady friends?”

Read the entire piece here.  If what Granda says is true, there is no way Falwell Jr. will return to Liberty University.

We also now know why the Washington Examiner statement came out late Sunday night. The Falwell camp knew this Reuters piece was coming today and wanted to get out in front of it. As Lin Manuel Miranda, interpreting Alexander Hamilton, put it, he tried to “write his way out.”

The Jerry Falwell Jr. story takes a bizarre turn

Trump Playboy

Jerry Falwell Jr. has released a statement to The Washington Examiner saying “that he has suffered depression caused by a former family friend who had an affair with his wife and has been threatening to expose it.”  Here is the full statement.

My family has been blessed with the opportunity to serve Christ and our community over the past 50 years – from when my father founded Liberty in the early 1970’s through today. When my father suddenly passed away in 2007, I quickly and unexpectedly went from being the lawyer working in the background on the business aspects of the school to becoming a very public person, having to overcome my fears of speaking in front of audiences of tens of thousands, with many more responsibilities to the Liberty community and to my own family.

My priority was to build on my father’s vision and to work hard. Thanks to the help of the Board and the extraordinary Liberty faculty, executives, staff and community, we have ensured the University’s sustained growth and financial health while providing the best and most modern on-campus and online educational and spiritual resources to a wider range of students both in person and through digital platforms.

My commitment to Liberty became and has remained my primary focus – and while I am so grateful and thankful for our collective successes, I also realize in hindsight that there was a toll that this took on me, which extended to my family too. During this time of reflection for us and this especially challenging year, and even more so following the events of the past few weeks, my wife Becki and I agreed that this was the right time for me to share more of our story, because the Liberty community deserves to hear it directly from me and from us.

During a vacation over eight years ago, Becki and I met an ambitious young man who was working at our hotel and was saving up his money to go to school. We encouraged him to pursue an education and a career and we were impressed by his initiative in suggesting a local real estate opportunity. My family members eventually made an investment in a local property, included him in the deal because he could play an active role in managing it, and became close with him and his family.

Shortly thereafter, Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about. After I learned this, I lost 80 pounds and people who saw me regularly thought that I was physically unwell, when in reality I was just balancing how to be most supportive of Becki, who I love, while also reflecting and praying about whether there were ways I could have been more supportive of her and given her proper attention. I came to realize that while it may be easy to judge others on their behavior, the King James Bible reminds us – “Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I sayeth unto you, that whoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart.” In fact, there are ways we may all be sinning, but the Lord believes in this self-reflection.

I was and have always remained fully devoted to Becki and we have shared many private conversations to better understand and support each other and to strengthen our marriage. Thankfully, our love has never been stronger. Becki and I forgave each other, because while her indiscretion may have been more obvious and apparent, I realized that there were important smaller things I needed to do better too.

In Ephesians 4:32 we learn – “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving as God in Christ forgave you.

We extended the spirit of forgiveness to this man with respect and kindness, both for spiritual and religious reasons, and in the hope that we could help him find his way and allow us to put this behind us, without any harm or embarrassment to our family or to the LU community to which we have dedicated our lives.

During the years that followed, we got to know his family and other loved ones, good people who also really care about him. They shared and confirmed to us that he has periodically demonstrated emotionally unstable behaviors with some destructive tendencies, seemingly in response to his inability to achieve his professional goals. Based on information from other sources, we believe that he may have targeted other successful women in similar ways.

While we tried to distance ourselves from him over time, he unfortunately became increasingly angry and aggressive. Eventually, he began threatening to publicly reveal this secret relationship with Becki and to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies. While this was very upsetting, we had been advised by trusted legal counsel that it was best to maintain contact with this person, as we tried to manage his increasingly erratic behavior and unreasonable demands while extricating ourselves from him both on a personal level and from that real estate transaction.

It was like living on a roller coaster.

While completely dedicating ourselves to Liberty, we were also suffering in silence during our personal time together, while simultaneously trying to manage and deal with this increasingly threatening behavior, which only worsened over time. We were doing our best to respectfully unravel this ‘fatal attraction’ type situation to protect our family and the University.

Even years after the improper relationship had ended, this person continued to be aggressive with Becki and me in a variety of ways. We finally decided that we had to further withdraw completely from him, which resulted in him stepping up his threats to share more outrageous and fabricate claims about us (under the guise of that business entity). He clearly moved forward with this plan through a specific member of the media who has continued to badger us, as well as other members of the media, regarding the false claims about the nature of the relationship based on the individual’s misrepresentations. Over the course of the last few months this person’s behavior has reached a level that we have decided the only way to stop this predatory behavior is to go public.

We have categorically rejected this person’s demands while dealing with him and this particular member of the media who seemed just as obsessed with the prurient, untrue aspects of this story, however fantastic.

Even though I continued successfully working with our entire Liberty team to achieve so many of our goals, I am now dealing with things in a way that I should have done before – including seeking to address the emotional toll this has taken. I shouldn’t have been afraid to admit my vulnerabilities and to reach out for assistance from the mental health professionals who could have alleviated this pain and stress. I am committed to speaking out and sharing with others at Liberty the importance of seeking counseling instead of thinking you need to be tough and try to bear these burdens on your own. I am in the early stages of addressing these issues.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on thine own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will guide straight thy path.

The trauma of this experience has brought us to a very challenging point in our lives, but we are strong, our faith in Christ is greater than ever, and with His help and with those in the community who we love and who appreciate the impact of forgiveness, we will get through this. We ask for your prayers and support.

We will see how this plays out, but it raises a lot of questions about the Miami pool boy (Giancarlo Granda), Michael Cohen, and Falwell’s support of Donald Trump. Read this New York Times piece for context. I wonder if this has anything to do with the upcoming release of Michael Cohen’s tell-all book. If it doesn’t, I am sure Cohen will be asked about this during the book tour. There are so many questions that need to be answered on this front.

And who is this so-called “specific member of the media?”

Finally, what role will this statement play in Falwell’s possible return to the Liberty presidency?

This interview tells us a lot about John MacArthur and the movement he represents

MacArthur

Chris Hutchison, the pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Blacksburg, VA, brought this to my attention today via Twitter.

Watch John MacArthur speaking to Ryan Helfenbein of the Liberty University Falkirk Center about his battle with the state of California and why no Christian could ever vote for Joe Biden:

Notice what MacArthur does here. He equates biblical teaching with abortion, homosexual marriage, and transgenderism. That’s it. For MacArthur, biblical thinking about politics essentially comes down to these three things. As a result, he believes Christians cannot vote for Joe Biden or any member of the Democratic Party.

Instead, MacArthur wants his church to vote for a Republican candidate whose policies will hurt the poor, who uses racist dog whistles, who has brought pornography into the news, and who lies to the American people multiple times a day. Last time I checked, the Bible says a lot about human dignity, truth, lust, and the poor.

What are the historical forces that have led MacArthur to believe that abortion, homosexual marriage, and transgenderism are the only issues Christian voters should be concerned about? We need to keep asking this question because MacArthur thinks that his view of politics is shaped by a reading of the Bible untainted by social and cultural forces.

About midway through the clip, Helfenbein asks MacArthur about critics who say the members of the Christian Right are single-issue voters. MacArthur responds:

That sounds like 25 or 30 years ago when the differences were sociological or economic between you know ownership and labor. That is long gone.

I have no idea what MacArthur is talking about here. But it sounds like he is trying to say that economic inequality is no longer an issue in the United States in the way that it was “25 or 30 years ago.” (Does he really think that the Christian Right did not push single-issue voting in 1995 or 1990?).

MacArthur seems unaware of the success of democratic socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders who have called attention to economic inequality. Sanders attracted millions of American voters–including many young evangelicals–in 2016 and 2020. MacArthur may not like Bernie’s ideas, but the Vermont senator’s views on income inequality have resonated with Americans. It sounds as if MacArthur has had his head in the sand.

MacArthur says that the Democrats are assaulting American and Christian values, namely the conscience, the family, government, and the church. If a biblical view of the conscience, family, government, and church is indeed eroding as MacArthur says it is, then what does this tell us about the influence of Christians in American life over the last 50-75 years? MacArthur’s diagnosis seems to suggest that Christians have failed miserably in their efforts at sustaining a moral culture. Christians like MacArthur should look into the mirror instead of blaming the Democrats. The church is on the hook here.

Why has the church failed? Have the forces of secularism been too strong? Perhaps.

Or maybe evangelicals have placed too much trust in politics to preserve a moral culture. If you need evidence of this, just consider evangelical support for Donald Trump.

MacArthur believes that the best way to protect the conscience is to vote for a man with no conscience.

MacArthur believes that the best way to save the family is to vote for a man who cheated on all his wives, has been divorced twice, sleeps with porn stars, and has been heard on tape saying he wants to sexually assault women.

MacArthur believes that Trump, with his endless lies and incompetent leadership, is the best man to lead a just and moral government.

MacArthur believes that Christians getting into bed with Trump is good for the church and the proclamation of the Gospel.

Something doesn’t seem right here.

Finally, MacArthur says:

Joe Biden said the other day he’s going to fill his cabinet with Muslims. That is as anti-Christian a statement as you could possibly make. That is a blasphemy of the true and living God.

Yes, it would be blasphemous to fill a cabinet with Muslims if we were living in a Christian theocracy. But we don’t live in a theocracy. We live in a democratic society that celebrates pluralism. As Hutchinson notes in his tweet, we have no religious test for federal office in this country. The United States Constitution, as originally written and ratified by the states, makes one reference to religion. Article 6 affirms that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States.” So Biden is perfectly within his constitutional rights to fill his cabinet with Muslims.

But MacArthur goes on about this:

No thinking person, no person who wanted any kind of life for anyone in the future could possible affirm that kind of behavior.

Last time I checked, the founding fathers who wrote the Constitution were “thinking people” who cared about the “future” of the republic.

Hutchinson wonders if MacArthur’s claim about Biden filling his cabinet with Muslims is true.

Of course Ryan Helfenbein nods his head in agreement with everything MacArthur says. In this interview we get one of our best views into what is really going-on with both the Grace Community Church controversy and the Liberty University Falkirk Center.

Thanks again to Chris Hutchinson for bringing all of this to my attention. Things are getting really strange.

Is encouraging “spiritual revival” the task of a university president? Thoughts on today’s Liberty University press release

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Here is the press release:

On Friday, Aug. 21, the Board of Trustees held a special meeting and affirmed both the terms of Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s indefinite leave of absence and Acting President Jerry Prevo’s terms of employment.

The full Board unanimously ratified the directives previously issued by its Executive Committee for Falwell during his paid leave, including the directives that Falwell may not act as President, use any powers of the University president, and may not communicate with employees to manage, direct, or interfere with the operations of the University.  Falwell may be called upon by Prevo for consultation and background information.

The decision to vest all the powers of the University president in Prevo during Falwell’s indefinite leave of absence and approved the Acting President’s salary and benefits. Board members asked Prevo to use his time of Christian leadership to reset the spiritual focus and emphasis at the University and expressed support for the spiritual revival plans Prevo announced.

The decision whether or not to retain Falwell as President has not yet been made, and the Board requested prayer and patience as they seek the Lord’s will and also seek additional information for assessment.  The University and its Board members have decided to not publicly comment on the various rumors and claims about Falwell at this time.  Instead, the Board intends to use this time of leave to look into them as part of the process of determining what is in the best interest of Liberty University.  The Board and its Executive Committee contemplate this being a careful and deliberative process, but one that will yield a result that honors God and is befitting one of the largest Christian universities in the world.

The Executive Committee asked Falwell to go on an indefinite leave of absence on Aug. 7, to which he agreed.  While the full Board had previously been briefed by the Executive Committee on its actions, Friday was the first opportunity for a formal Board meeting to be held where business could be conducted.   The next scheduled Board meeting is Oct. 30.

The Board has “asked Prevo to use his time of Christian leadership to reset the spiritual focus and emphasis at the University and expressed support for the spiritual revival plans Prevo announced.” What does this mean? Is it possible to “announce” a spiritual revival?

The spiritual climate of a Christian college campus is always important. Jerry Falwell Jr. once said he plays no role in this dimension of Liberty campus life. But is encouraging “spiritual revival” the task of a university president?

Falwell Jr. was most concerned about building the sports program and using his platform to promote Donald Trump. Prevo wants to foster a “spiritual revival.” Neither of these Liberty University presidents seem to be concerned about building a strong and thriving academic institution.

Can Liberty University really be a place of spiritual revival when their most vocal spokespersons engage in gutter politics from their seats as Falkirk Center “fellows?”

If a spiritual revival leads to more Christian Trumpism, is it really a spiritual revival? Or is it something else?

What happened to Liberty University’s original “Falkirk fellows”?

Liberty Mountain

When Jerry Falwell and Charlie Kirk founded Liberty University’s Falkirk Center they appointed several “fellows” to speak on behalf of the Center’s mission and purpose. According to the Center’s website, the Falkirk Center was created to:

…go on the offense in the name of Christian principles and in the name of exceptional, God-given American liberties.

Accomplishing this end requires more than adding noise to the echo chamber. It requires an army of bold ambassadors equipped with Biblical and Constitutional knowledge to speak truth to believers and unbelievers alike in every professional field and public forum. This includes Christian leaders and influencers—of all ages and backgrounds—defending, explaining, and sharing their beliefs on all platforms and sectors of society.

Thankfully, we don’t have to render ourselves powerless as the left misguides our young people. Much like Wallace’s struggle for freedom, we need brave, tenacious, passionate fighters to prevail in our war to save the greatest nation on earth. The Falkirk Center will remain on the front lines of this war. And we believe, like the passionate freedom fighters that courageously charged into the breach before us, we will eventually see victory.

The first group of fellows were:

Erika Lane Frantzve: She was Miss Arizona USA.  I am not sure what qualifies her as a “fellow” at a think tank.

Josh Allen Murray: He apparently was a winner on the ABC reality show “The Bachelorette.”

Antonia Okafor Cover: She runs a non-profit organization that teaches women how to use guns and advocate for their Second Amendment rights.

David Harris Jr.: He is the author of a book titled Why I Couldn’t Stay Silent: One Man’s Battle as a Black Conservative

Jaco Boovens: Runs a film company

As of today, Murray, Cover, and Booyens are no longer associated with the Falkirk Center. Does anyone know what happened? Why did they leave? Perhaps a religion journalist might want to follow-up.

Harris Jr. continues to tweet on behalf of the Falkirk Center. So does Frantzve.

The list of fellows now includes Eric Metaxas, Jenna Ellis, Darrel B. Harrison, Sebastian Gorka, and David Brat. I don’t know much about Harrison, but the other four are more high-profile culture warriors with bigger platforms.

My sources tell me that the Liberty University Board of Trustees is meeting today. Will its members address the Falkirk Center and its brand of gutter politics? What they decide to do with the Falkirk Center will speak volumes about how the board understands Liberty’s future. Here are just a few tweets from the last 48 hours. All of them come from current Falkirk Center fellows:

Retweeted by Sebastian Gorka:

Eric Metaxas recently said that Kamala Harris is an “evil protean figure” and agreed with a guest who said that she has a “Jezebel spirit.”

All of these people speak on behalf of a Center run by Liberty University, a self-identified Christian college.

What are the court evangelicals saying about day 3 of the DNC convention?

Trump Court Evangelicals 2

Last night we heard from Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Kamala Harris. So what are the court evangelicals saying?

Johnnie Moore, the man who describes himself as a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer“:

Moore tweeted the above Bible verse while Barack Obama was speaking last night.

On Monday night, as the DNC was talking about “rising up” for social, economic, environmental, and racial justice, Moore tweeted this:

It is worth noting that Psalm 20 also says “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

This is unrelated to the convention, but one court evangelical will no longer have a TBN television show.

Charlie Kirk continues to represent the Falkirk Center at Liberty University:

How long will Liberty University allow this to go on? Charlie Kirk will continue to spew this kind of stuff as long as evangelical churches, schools, and Christians give him a platform.

Here is Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Sebastian Gorka:

Court evangelical Lance Wallnau is on the Eric Metaxas Show. Wallnau claims that he prophesied the idea of “Trump derangement syndrome” He continues with his “Hillary 2.0″ theory about Kamala Harris. He once again claims that Harris is a “chameleon” with a “Jezebel spirit” who has been “vetted” not by Biden, but by the devil. Metaxas calls her an “evil protean figure.” He adds that if Biden wins in November it will be “the end of America.”

At the end of the interview, Wallnau and Metaxas engage in some serious “America as a New Israel” language. Metaxas says that we have abandoned God’s “covenant” with America established by the Pilgrims. in 1620 and the patriots in 1776. This is all very bad American history and theology, but it’s the kind of message Metaxas (along with David Barton) has been pitching for a long time now. Take a look at my review of his book If You Can Keep It.

What are the court evangelicals saying about the DNC convention?

We have now had two nights of the DNC convention. Let’s check-in on the court evangelicals:

I think this must have been taped before the convention, but watch Eric Metaxas and John Smirak mock Kamala Harris’s first name. And then they compare Harris to Jim Jones and Jonestown. Finally, they take more shots at Biden’s faith and the Catholic church.

Metaxas continues to cash-in on the Trump presidency. Today on Facebook he is promoting his new book in the “Donald the Caveman” series. It is titled Donald and the Fake News.

Fake news metaxas

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the convention.

Robert Jeffress is countering the DNC convention with something called “Faith Week.”

“Faith Week” includes:

Pastor Jack Hibbs:

Let’s end tonight’s roundup with the Liberty University gang at the Falkirk Center:

Charlie Kirk does not seem to have recovered from Monday night’s meltdown:

And here is Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Jenna Ellis:

This Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow is getting excited about the Republican National Convention:

And these:

Christian politics at its best (worst).

Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center has a Twitter meltdown while watching the DNC convention

Falkirk band

It got pretty ugly.

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is partially named after Trump wonder-boy Charlie Kirk:

Let me just re-iterate. There is a center at Liberty University named after the guy who wrote the above tweets. The Falkirk Center has a mission to “go on the offensive” against anyone who does not see the world in the same way it does. It looks like Charlie Kirk is fulfilling that mission. But is it Christian? Liberty University claims to be the largest Christian university in the world.

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

And as long as we are covering the Falkirk Center, I am curious about what happened to some of the original Falkirk Center fellows: Jaco Booyens, Antonia Okafor, and Josh Allan Murray. None of these people identify with the Falkirk Center any more. Does anyone know why?

 

Religion News Service does more reporting on the Falwell Jr. story

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

Liberty alumni want him removed permanently. Christian pastors want him out. And now his Instagram “likes” of scantily clad women on Instagram have become part of the story.

Yesterday Yonat Shimron of Religion News Service reported that a group of Liberty University alumni who are serving as Christian pastors have called for the permanent removal of Jerry Falwell Jr. from the presidency of Liberty University. At the moment, Falwell Jr. is on “indefinite leave” from the Christian university. Here is a taste:

Some pastors told Religion News Service Falwell has a right to his passionate support of President Trump. But they were appalled by his defense of Trump’s comments in the infamous Access Hollywood tape and in other cases, such as Trump’s defense of white supremacists.

“As a Christian, I believe in forgiveness and redemption,” said John Welborn, a 2004 Liberty graduate who is now pastor of Salem Church in New York’s Staten Island. “My prayer for him is that he finds true repentance and confession. But I do believe Liberty University would be well served by a fresh start with new leadership.”

Many of these pastors said it would be disingenuous to reinstate the 58-year-old Falwell after a three- or six-month separation without a full process of repentance and public confession — a process they said could take years.

“A three-month hiatus — people will see right through that,” said Dan Williams, pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship outside Redding, Pennsylvania, and a 2001 Liberty graduate.

Shimron also calls our attention to Save71, a Liberty University alumni organization whose members are calling for Falwell Jr.’s permanent removal. The website of the organization states, “This isn’t about one photo.” It also includes the following statement:

Over the past several years, President Jerry Falwell Jr. has damaged the spiritual vitality, academic quality, and national reputation of Liberty University. We are a group of Liberty alumni, students, and faculty calling on the Board of Trustees to permanently remove President Falwell and replace him with a responsible and virtuous Christian leader. 

To do this, the Board should appoint an independent committee of leaders from within the Liberty community, as well as leaders outside of it, to begin the search for a new president. We will put forth names of people we believe should be nominated to this committee in the coming days.

Liberty University, like any institution or person, needs to repent of its sins before seeking redemption. The Board of Trustees must acknowledge the damage President Falwell has done to Liberty and the hypocrisy and corruption that has soaked into parts of its culture.

There is much to admire about Liberty, its students, and its professors. But for too long, Liberty’s leaders have used the school’s virtues to shield its sins and used its power to cloak its failures. That must end now. 

We put no faith in riches or comfort, in status or power. We put our faith in Christ alone, and we want Liberty University to follow Him.

Read Shimron’s entire piece here.

Today, Emily McFarland Miller has a piece at RNS exploring two dimensions of this story. First, why was the Instagram photo, and not all the other stuff Falwell has said and done, the last straw for the former Liberty president? Second, it also appears that Falwell has a habit of “liking” the Instagram photos of scantily clad models and young women in swimsuits.

Here is a taste of Miller’s piece:

Now, some of the images Falwell has “liked” on Instagram are raising eyebrows.

Religion News Service has verified that Falwell has liked a handful of images posted on the social media platform that show young women in swimsuits in the past month.

One is a photo of model Stefanie Gurzanski, who has appeared on the covers of Cosmopolitan Mexico and Maxim Mexico, posed across the back of a couch in a black one-piece suit and leopard-print high-heeled boots.

Another is an ambassador for conservative student movement Turning Point USA who pairs photos of herself in swimsuits with political memes and patriotic or inspirational Christian captions.

While young women posting swimsuit selfies is an innocent Instagram activity, liking them is “certainly unbecoming for the president of, as he calls it, the largest Christian college in the United States,” Fea said.

That’s particularly true at a place like Liberty, whose founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., was head of the Moral Majority and whose rules stress values like sexual purity and abstaining from alcohol.

“Any kind of evangelical Christian would, I think, have an issue with that. It would raise eyebrows,” Fea said.

The historian, who had not viewed the Instagram photos in question, said he can’t imagine another evangelical leader liking photos of women in swimsuits on social media. He pointed to the so-called Billy Graham rule, named for the famed evangelist who wouldn’t even be alone in a room with a woman who was not his wife.

Read the entire piece here.