liberty university

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. believes that Donald Trump “will become America’s greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.”

But that wasn’t enough to persuade him to accept Trump’s offer to become secretary of education, he said.

Falwell told Religion News Service the decision was due to concerns for the health of his family and the university he leads.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

As it is, white evangelicals made up a little more than a quarter of those who turned out to cast their ballots. And by winning 81 percent of their vote, Trump was assured the presidency.

Now, evangelicals are expecting much in return from a president-elect who did not mention God in his victory speech, who was “strongly” in favor of abortion rights until he was against them, who has said he does not believe in repentance, who has made lewd comments admitting to sexual assault.

Sandi Villarreal 10-19-2016

Jerry Falwell Jr. introduces Donald Trump at Liberty University's convocation.

A student editor at the Liberty Champion, Liberty University's student newspaper, is crying foul after his column was axed by university president Jerry Falwell Jr. The piece — part of a weekly column by sports editor Joel Schmieg — took aim at Donald Trump's so-called "locker room talk" in which the Republican presidential candidate bragged about being able to get away with sexual assault.

Wesley Walker 10-13-2016

Image via Darron Birgenheier/Flickr

This petition clarifies that students want to have their own distinct voice to speak for themselves. Liberty is a place where this dialogue is possible, and even encouraged.

Image via RNS.

DeMoss told The Washington Post two months ago that the Republican front-runner’s insult-laden campaign has been a flagrant rejection of the values Falwell Sr. espoused and Liberty promotes on its campus.

In late April, the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees had voted to ask DeMoss to resign from the board’s executive committee, which he chaired, according to a statement he made to Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton. Days later, on April 25, DeMoss decided to step down from the board as well, citing “a concern about a lack of trust.”

the Web Editors 04-27-2016

Liberty University’s board of trustees voted last week to allow students with concealed-carry permits to bring handguns into residence halls, reports NBC Washington.

Wesley Walker 01-19-2016
Donald Trump

Donald Trump at the Republican debate Dec. 14. in Las Vegas, Nev.  Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

This week at Liberty University, Donald Trump was given a platform to address evangelicals. Much has been written on why Donald Trump is patently unqualified to be speaking on a day where we celebrate the lasting impact of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against oppression. His racist and xenophobic policy proposals include mass deportations, barring Muslims from travelling to the United States, and creating a registry to monitor Muslims in America. Lending legitimacy to him is entirely contradictory to the life and mission of Martin Luther King Jr.

Ed Spivey Jr. 01-19-2016

Trump held his audience spellbound for the first part of his message, which included a reference to Jesus turning over the voter registration tables in the temple, but then he invoked a scripture from the second book of Corinthians. “Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame.”

Image via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/RNS

Just weeks before the Iowa caucus, GOP presidential contender Donald Trump is aiming his proudly “politically incorrect” anger and his pledge to be “great!” directly at evangelical Christians. “I’m going to protect Christians,” who are losing their power in American society, he said Jan. 18, addressing 100,000 Liberty University students — packed in the Lynchburg, Va., campus sports arena or viewing online.

Wesley Walker 12-09-2015

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I love my school, and Liberty is not a monolithic place — there are a diversity of worldviews and backgrounds here, and not every student is happy about Falwell’s sentiments. I have met many students and faculty who have helped me develop as a Christian, an academic, and a person. And I applaud the school’s response to the families of the victims of the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. Hopefully by reaching out to them, Falwell can still bring some sense of healing to the situation.

But I feel I need to speak out on this issue. I believe opportunistic pro-gun rhetoric is deeply devastating to the Christian message.

the Web Editors 12-08-2015

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An alarming wave of Islamophobia is sweeping our nation, and we are troubled by the participation of Christians. Our diverse gifts and perspectives as a community of faith and learning lead us to a common commitment to work for justice, inclusion, and equality. We repudiate the hostility and hatred aimed at Muslims in and beyond our own communities. 

We pledge to challenge Islamophobia whenever and wherever it occurs, including on our own campuses — to foster relationships with Muslims based on friendship and not fear, and to serve the common good by maintaining a firm commitment to racial and religious diversity. 

ADD YOUR NAME HERE

Adam Phillips 12-07-2015

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According to the Washington Post:

“If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now …,” he said while being interrupted by louder cheers and clapping. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, chuckling.

“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he says, the rest of his sentence drowned out by loud applause while he said, “and killed them.”

“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

A Christian leader, at one of the most influential evangelical colleges, told a basketball arena full of 18–22 year olds to get guns and carry them around in their back pockets in order to take on any radical Muslims that might make their way down to Lynchburg, Va.

09-15-2015

Image via Joshua Roberts/REUTERS/RNS

Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke Sept. 14 at an evangelical school where he framed his fight against wealth and income inequality in terms of morality and justice.

Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic presidential nomination, conceded that many in the audience at Liberty University disagree with his support for abortion rights and gay marriage. But he suggested they might agree that, at a time when “a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension,” other people shouldn’t have to struggle to feed their families, put a roof over their heads, or visit a doctor.

“When we talk about morality and when we talk about justice, we have to, in my view, understand that there is no justice when so few have so much and so many have so little,” he said to applause from the audience of nearly 12,000.

Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I -Vermont) speaks at a presidential campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo via Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

The huge Lynchburg, Virginia, campus was started by the late Jerry Falwell, founder of Moral Majority, one of the main engines behind the launch of the religious right, and it is currently headed by Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell, Jr.

It’s also become a key venue for Republican candidates looking to shore up their bona fides with key evangelical Christian voters.

So why did Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, accept Falwell’s invitation to address upwards of 12,000 students and faculty on Sept. 14?

Catalina Camia 04-15-2015
Photo via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. Photo via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

Jeb Bush will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University on May 9, becoming the second GOP presidential contender to speak at the Christian school this year.

“Throughout his years of public service, Governor Bush has been a champion of excellence in education and so many other issues of vital importance to our university community,” President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement about the college’s 42nd commencement exercises.

Bush, a former Florida governor, has all but declared he will seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the first Republican to formally enter the field, and kicked off his campaign with a speech at Liberty’s convocation on March 23.

Gov. Bobby Jindal at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, widely considered a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, will be the commencement speaker at Liberty University on May 10.

“Many believe [Jindal] could hold the highest office in the land someday,” Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

In an interview, Falwell was hesitant to give his personal opinion of Jindal since the two men have never met. Instead, he deferred to Liberty’s law school dean, Mat Staver.

“He’s a committed Christian,” Falwell said. “Mat Staver said he heard him speak and he sounded like a Baptist preacher.”

Katherine Burgess 11-07-2013

Daniel Aleshire, executive director of ATS. Photo via RNS/by Allison Shirreffs/courtesy the Association of Theological Schools

Theological education has increasingly left brick-and-mortar schools and headed back to congregations and family homes as more seminarians study online.

“The old move — uproot your family, get a new job, move to the seminary — that model isn’t working for so many people today,” said Ronald Hawkins, vice provost at Liberty University, which has around 9,000 students in its online seminary.

“They are looking for a way to increase their biblical theological knowledge, to expand their ministry skills and to remain within the context of the ministry setting.”

Despite “huge” hesitancy to allow online theological degrees, online education is growing, said Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, the main accrediting body for more than 270 seminaries and graduate schools.

Rebecca Kraybill 10-30-2013

Photo provided by Ruth Bibby, via Liberty Champion.

Can you be scared into salvation?

For the past 41 years, Liberty University’s “Scaremare” has attracted thousands to its haunted attraction, where students in costumes deliver thrills and screams throughout a guided tour.

The university’s Center for Youth Ministries sponsors the annual October event, boasting to be one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast.

Jason Russell with Ugandan children in the film “Invisible Children.” RNS photo courtesy of Invisible Children.

A campaign to arrest an African warlord generated awareness in more ways than the effort’s co-founder Jason Russell could have ever imagined.

The “Kony 2012″ campaign captured widespread attention for its push to arrest Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which abducts and forces children to become soldiers. For a grass-roots video project that suddenly went viral, it was a phenomenal success.

Two weeks after the group Invisible Children released the video last year, Russell, the group’s co-founder, was detained and hospitalized for erratic behavior after he was found running naked and cursing the devil in the streets of San Diego.

Mary Beth Marklein 09-24-2013

Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University chancellor. Via RNS/Photo by Ryan T. Stone/courtesy USA Today

A crimson-colored “LU,” emblazoned in 11-foot letters on a forested mountainside against a backdrop of white limestone, tells students and their families they have arrived at Liberty University. The cacophony of construction across the 7,000-acre campus it overlooks suggests that the once-struggling Christian college has not only arrived but also plans to stick around.

Dormitories built in the 1970s have been torn down to make room for high-rise residence halls. Soon to be completed is a $50 million library in which robots will retrieve books. The campus master plan calls for more seating in the football stadium, a sign of Liberty’s aspirations to one day participate in Division 1 bowl games.

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