Liberty University is in the news a lot lately but not for great reasons. Yesterday, I called attention to a tweet from LU president Jerry Falwell, Jr. which disparaged fellow Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore. Moore had lamented the treatment of migrant children at the U.S. southern border. Falwell, Jr. is taking much heat over his behavior unbecoming a college president.
Today, I became aware of a scathing Facebook post from a former faculty member at Liberty. Brian Melton was an instructional mentor at LU from 2014-2018. He worked a full load but was not considered full-time for the purpose of benefits. However, he had sufficient interaction to form an opinion. Since he didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, he is now speaking out.
If you are considering LU as a faculty, staff, or student, you should read Melton’s posting. Here are his concluding thoughts:
My own personal narrative aside, I knew of many other people treated worse than I was–a whole list of persons I liked and respected. If the last few years had taught me anything, it was that while there are still many excellent people to be found there, Liberty University as a whole was as shifty, dishonorable, unprincipled, and hypocritical a work environment as could be offered. I could not trust my family to them, and I increasingly found it hard to have my reputation associated with an organization that had proved itself so often without honor. (Yes, I’m old fashioned that way.)
Melton’s posting supports what I have been saying about fears of speaking out at LU.
I can’t remember anything quite like this. Political loyalties have reduced self-styled Christian leaders to public wars. Witness Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tweet today to Russell Moore.
The arrogance here is obvious. His reaction isn’t relevant to Moore’s comment. Moore didn’t even mention Trump but Moore’s concern about the treatment of migrant children implied enough disapproval to throw Falwell into a frenzied attack.
Falwell is the president of a Christian university. I cannot imagine the president of my college doing anything like this. I can’t imagine the president of any reputable college or university comporting himself/herself in this way.
Moore said what many are feeling. I suspect there are numerous Trump voters who want to see children take care of. Moore did nothing wrong and a lot right.
I feel very sad tonight for Liberty staff and faculty, at least those who would like to speak out but can’t because their jobs are on the line. Students, parents, and alums probably have the most leverage. Apparently the board is MIA or in complete accord with Mr. Falwell.
In any case, this is a new low and I don’t think there is a bottom.
They will know we are Christians by our fake news.
In a surprising plot twist, the Wall Street Journal reports this morning that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen is being accused of failing to pay the Chief Information Officer of Liberty University John Gauger for his poll rigging services. Cohen arranged with Gauger’s tech firm to manipulate the results of two online polls and set up a fake Twitter account. Gauger claims Cohen didn’t pay him in full.
According to the WSJ report, Gauger doesn’t dispute the work involved. He got paid a portion of the fee in cash which Cohen allegedly gave in a Wal-Mart bag.
My interest in the story is less about Cohen and more about Gauger. According to the story, Gauger set up an algorithm to repeatedly vote for Trump in a CNBC online poll of top business people. Even with Gauger’s help, Trump couldn’t crack the top 100. The Liberty administrator also tried to manipulate a Drudge poll and set up a “Women for Cohen” twitter account. Sounds like fake news to me.
Most people (I hope) realize those polls are worthless for reasons such as implied by this news. However, some people use them to shape their image or manipulate public opinion. Does anyone doubt that Trump would have used positive results to his advantage?
It is one thing to vote a few times for your favorite band in an online poll, it is another to craft a service around dishonesty. This firm sells the ability to use technology to make fake news. I wonder if the IT classes at Liberty University teach that.
I know much of what we run into online is an effort at persuasion and manipulation. I hope this story raises awareness about the many ways we are surrounded by efforts to move and shape our opinions and behavior. Furthermore, I hope Christians begin to recognize that fake news is coming from sources within the camp.