Liberty University Basketball Player Asia Todd Decides to Leave the School Over “Racial Insensitivities”

I just saw this a short while ago.

Asia Todd was a high school standout at Clayton (NC) High School and played quality minutes as a Freshman for the Lady Flames this past season. However, she has now decided to transfer and her announcement says it all.

Falwell’s and Board chairman Prevo’s statements are shallow and will probably not suffice to stop the exodus of African American students and staff.

Liberty University: Jerry “Apologizes;” Former Staffer Starts LU Underground Railroad to Help Current Staff Leave

In Liberty University news, the fallout from Jerry Falwell’s racist tweet continues.

After having a come to Jesus moment with African American board members, Jerry apologized one of those apologies that says sorry if you got upset. WaPo has the story. They also report that another African American staffer –Keyvon Scott– has resigned over the matter.

In a sign that more resignations may be coming, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported yesterday that Liberty’s former Director of Diversity Retention, LeeQuan McLaurin not only resigned but has started something he calls LUnderground Railroad to help current African American staff at Liberty to leave.

LUnderground Railroad is a gofundme page designed to raise $2000 to give to 15 Liberty employees to help them leave the school. Dissent is not allowed there so they must remain silent. LeeQuan hopes these funds will help them get out of what they believe is a toxic environment.

And that may be all they have to look forward to. Nothing will change on campus if the board chair’s response is any indication. From the Chronicle:

Jerry Prevo, chairman of Liberty’s Board of Trustees, said the board met with Falwell last week to discuss his recent tweets and that the executive committee is satisfied with his response to the furor the tweets caused.

“We understand these images have been hurtful for a number of our friends to see,” Prevo said. “We also know him and know him not to be a racist. Nor do we believe that he has been running Liberty University in a way that discriminates against African Americans.”

Apparently, Mr. Prevo isn’t doing exit interviews with the people who leaving and want to leave.

The petition from African American alums now has nearly 38,000 signers and is still taking signatures here.

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Liberty University’s Director of Diversity Retention Resigns; Students Call for Falwell’s Ouster

Liberty University continues to be a community is disarray following Jerry Falwell’s racially insensitive COVID mask tweet (please see this post for context). An adjunct professor resigned immediately after the tweet came to light and now the school Director of Diversity Retention, Quan McLaurin has resigned. I suspect Mr. Falwell made his job very difficult.

Here is the Twitter announcement:

On another front, a small student group –Liberty Students for Change– is calling for Falwell to be fired.

That group is small; a much larger group is touting a petition on Change.org. This petition –now with over 32,000 signers– specifically targets the racist tweet and calls on Falwell to change or resign. If this doesn’t happen, the signers pledge not to recommend the school. Several key athletes are signers which could hurt Liberty’s recruiting for Division 1 sports programs. The petition can be read and signed here.

More on LU:

Liberty Student Sickened by Jerry Falwell’s Blackface/KKK Mask

Petition from Former Athletes and Alums Calls on Falwell to Retract Blackface/KKK Mask Tweet

Today, thirty-five African-American pastors, alums, and former athletes from Liberty University started a Change.org petition calling on Jerry Falwell, Jr. to change his ways, delete his racist blackface/KKK mask tweet, and apologize (see this post describing the mask).

Apparently, anyone can sign it and it is addressed to Falwell. The petition acknowledges that the Board of Directors isn’t going to remove him. Take that in for a minute. Nearly any other college president in the land would be removed from office for the behavior cited in this letter, but these writers have already bypassed that as an objective.

The letter writers make explicit what I believed would begin happening soon:

 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.

Go read the whole thing here.

Thus far, an online professor has resigned, and a student has written an open letter of protest over Falwell’s actions.  Falwell’s response has been defiant and unapologetic.

Eric Green is a former Pittsburgh Steeler standout and Liberty U. alum who signed the petition. There are 3 other former NFL players who signed and one current player (Walt Aikens). If these NFL players don’t help Liberty recruit and in fact discourage black student-athletes from attending LU, this could present Falwell with a problem I feel sure he didn’t anticipate.

At 5:45pm, 2100 had signed. The server was down a good part of the day and the total went up 25 in the time it took me to type this. At 11pm, over 8100 have signed on.

Liberty University Student Sickened by Jerry Falwell’s Blackface/KKK Mask (UPDATED)

Two days ago I wrote about Jerry Falwell’s facemask design using a blackface and KKK photo. An online professor resigned over it. Now, a student at Liberty University has written Falwell an open letter of protest. Rather than comment extensively, I will post his tweet here:

The letter is a little hard to read for older eyes so you can see a larger version by clicking this link.

The nation is tearing itself apart and Jerry Falwell thinks it is appropriate to use painful racist images to make some lame political point. This isn’t getting much press because the riots, COVID, and Donald Trump allow no time for anything else. However, I suspect a majority of Liberty students would agree with Mr. Trostle.

UPDATE:

Falwell is doubling down with some head scratching reasoning.

I plan to check into the facts but I doubt that Gov. Northam picked out Liberty U’s African-American online students to target. In any case, Falwell sounds like a child – he won’t apologize because of something someone else did. If you take a look at the comments on the tweet, he getting — as the kids say — ratioed.

Here is a balanced article on the online funding issue from Inside Higher Education.

Liberty University Adjunct Professor Resigns Over Jerry Falwell’s Blackface & KKK Mask

In normal times, this story would rock the evangelical world. As things stand, it barely registered. However, examining the situation, it is incredible that Jerry Falwell is still president at Liberty University.

On May 27, Falwell tweeted:

In response, one of Liberty’s online professors, Christopher House, resigned. Dr. House, an African-American pastor and scholar rejected Falwell’s justification for the tweet. His full explanation is at his Facebook page.

Yes, the picture on the mask was taken from Gov. Northam’s medical school yearbook. It is also true that Gov. Northam is many years removed from medical school and apologized for his participation in the photo. He also faced widespread condemnation from his own party with numerous calls for his resignation. He disavowed it and is obviously ashamed of it.

Thus, Falwell’s use of the pic is opportunistic. He knows Northam doesn’t stand by the photo, and he knows numerous Democratic leaders called for Northam’s resignation. His use of that photo is now on him. He has to own it because he chose to use it. About the mask, he said he “designed my own.” He chose to use a photo of blackface and a KKK hood to make his silly political point.

So here we are. A Christian college president used some of the most painful imagery for African-American people that can be used to make his point. Apparently, it doesn’t matter who he hurts, offends, or angers, Jerry Falwell, Jr., large and in charge, must express his opposition to the inconvenience of a little mask on his face.

Falwell might protest that he is attacking the racist Northam. This is bogus. Northam disavowed it and is attempting to atone for his sins. Falwell appears to be oblivious to the pain this causes. He sins to make a point that could be made in so many other ways. In fact, his actions have now obscured the point he wanted to make.

Clearly, Dr. House experienced pain from Falwell’s choice:

There is very little that one can teach in an Intercultural class that can be taken seriously by students who seek to engage in a meaningful cross cultural, bridge building and improving race relations in the world when the President of the very same institution draws upon images of racial terror for political expedience, and without regard for people who look like me who will have to deal with the very real, social, economic and physical implications of those negative stereotypes long after his post is removed (or not as such is the case).

Symbols of racism are just that: symbols of racism. They aren’t analogies for perceived slights by white people. A mask using painful images of racism isn’t — will never be — an appropriate advertisement for your political grievances.

Good for Dr. House. I wish him well.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. Slams Russell Moore on Treatment of Refugees

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.

 

Jerry Falwell is Wrong About the Poor

There are several head scratching quotes from Jerry Falwell, Jr. in his New Year’s Day interview with Joe Heims in the Washington Post. One such quote which caught my eye is this:

Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It’s because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.

While job creation might be out of reach for many low income people, charitable giving is something the poor do often. As Relevant magazine pointed out, Christian college president Falwell appears to have forgotten Jesus’ teaching about the widow and her few cents. Beyond Falwell’s insensitivity to the Bible, he is wrong about the poor and charitable giving. Actually, low income people as a group give a lot and on average they give more as a percentage of their income than rich people.

Given Falwell’s role as a fund raiser for his college, I am surprised he isn’t aware of this. In philanthropy literature, the link between income bracket and giving is well known. Although the truly poor don’t often itemize charitable gifts, lower income brackets are responsible for significant amounts of charitable giving compared to higher brackets. This is especially true of religious giving.

A 2007 Indiana University study found that donors making under 100,000/year gave nearly $60 Billion to religious organizations compared to $8.6 Billion given by donors making over $1 million/year. The per donor gift was much smaller in the lower income group, but together the lower income group represented nearly 60% of all giving to religious causes. In contrast to Falwell’s claim, that’s some real volume. No doubt Falwell’s college gets many widow’s mites on a monthly basis to help keep those doors open.

I realize that $100,000/year is not poor. However, this bracket is more likely to include large families with limited resources. As noted above, people in the lowest income groups don’t often itemize contributions and so it is harder to capture those data via the Indiana U. methodology. However, other research supports the contention that lower income persons give more as a percentage of income than the rich.

For instance, a 2014 study published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy showed that the wealthy reduced their giving during the economic downtown while lower and middle income donors increased giving. The lowest income bracket – those making less than $25,000/year – increased their giving by 17% from 2006 to 2012. The lowest income group demonstrated the highest percentage increase of all groups.

The 2014 study wasn’t unusual. Much prior research has found that those in low income brackets give more as a percentage of income than the wealthy. According to researcher Roger Barnett, “Research in the area has established that, on the average, high income donors give more to charitable causes than do people with low incomes. However, in Britain (and in the United States) the poor have for decades been observed to donate proportionately higher shares of their income to charity than the financially better off (emphasis in the original) (p. 520).

Falwell, Jr.’s college has been helped out in the past by big gifts (e.g., self-proclaimed messiah Sun Myung Moon) so perhaps he is influenced by the big donors. However, as a group, the poor do give and they give a lot. He is wrong and shouldn’t spread this misinformation. If I were a low income donor to Liberty University, I would have to rethink my contribution.

 

Tony Perkins: Christianity is Great Except When It Isn't

The title of this post summarizes what I get out of this Tony Perkins interview with Politico. Tony Perkins is the head of the Family Research Trump court evangelical picCouncil which claims to promote family values. Because FRC has historically called for politicians to exemplify family values, Perkins gets a lot of questions about his support for Trump.  This exchange between Perkins and reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere  is especially revealing:

Evangelical Christians, says Perkins, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
What happened to turning the other cheek? I ask.
“You know, you only have two cheeks,” Perkins says. “Look, Christianity is not all about being a welcome mat which people can just stomp their feet on.”

Shorter Perkins: when Christian teachings don’t get you want you want, then try something else. As I understand Perkins here, there is a limit to Christianity. You can follow it so far, but when it doesn’t work to get power in the situation, you resort to whatever tactics might be necessary. Otherwise, the unthinkable might happen: Christians might lose political power.

Christianity? What Christianity?

To me, this is another example of an evangelical leader changing Christianity to fit the requirements of being a Trump follower. Today, it is Perkins; often it is Franklin Graham, most days it is Jerry Falwell, everyone’s favorite fallen angel. After Trump’s indecorous reflections on third world nations earlier this month, Jerry Falwell went out with an defense – Trump was being presidentially authentic.  Columnist Jonah Goldberg was having none of that.

Falwell, in a riot of sycophantic sophistry, not only wants to argue that whatever a president does is presidential but also seeks to elevate the idea that authenticity is its own reward. This is contrary to vast swathes of conservative and Christian thought. A person can be authentically evil, crude, bigoted, or asinine. That is not a defense of any of those things. I’m no expert, but my understanding of Christianity is that behavior is supposed to be informed by more than one’s “authentic” feelings and instincts. Satan is nothing if not authentic.

We live in a time when some of our Christian leaders model how Christian leaders act when they believe Christianity has failed as a practical matter. “You know, you only have two cheeks,” Perkins said. Once you’ve turned both of them, it must be time to move on to some other approach.
And nearly every day, we see evidence that they have moved on.

Politico: It's Good to Be a Falwell at Liberty University

Building where Trey Falwell's hostel is located. Courtesy of Brandon Ambrosino
Building where Trey Falwell’s hostel is located. Courtesy of Brandon Ambrosino

It is good to be a Falwell at Liberty University. At least, that’s the impression I got from reading today’s Politico article by Brandon Ambrosino about dealings at the largest Christian college in the U.S. According to Ambrosino, the son of LU’s president got a nice deal on his home and the elder Falwell gave the younger Falwell $4.65-million to buy a very shady hostel in Miami Beach.
It has long been known that Jerry Falwell, Jr. has a different set of standards than his faculty and board members. But the South Beach hostel where sins at LU are advertised attractions was not well known. According to the article, an LLC controlled by Trey Falwell (Jerry Jr’s son) purchased the hostel while renting a house on Liberty property. Later the property was sold to Falwell by the school. Although no one expects Trump’s IRS to go after LU, the transaction was not disclosed on IRS documents as required by law.
The article is chock full of revelations and if you are interested in LU, Christians and wealth or Trump’s court evangelicals, this would be an interesting read.