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.

Liberty University Protesters Want Investigation of Falwell

A student protest is planned this morning at Liberty University. Specifically, the students want an investigation of issues raised in the Politico article by Brandon Ambrosino about Jerry Falwell’s personal and business dealings.

Elizabeth, a LU student, is organizing the event which is slated for 11:45am.

The students have the following mission statement:

Our mission statement is to bring to light the truth of these allegations of various misconduct as brought forth by the Politico Magazine article. We are demanding and investigation both internal and external.

#StudentsForChange is the hashtag the group is using for news about the protest. There isn’t much now but there might be more during and after the event. Falwell has a compliant board but it remains to be seen what student unrest will do to his support.

Former Liberty University Faculty Member Describes Workplace as “Shifty, Dishonorable, Unprincipled, and Hypocritical”

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.

WSJ: Liberty University Administrator Involved in Michael Cohen Fake News Scheme

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.

Womp, womp.

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.

 

 

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.