The hypocritical world of Liberty University honcho Jerry Falwell Jr. appears to be crumbling after he sent out a questionable photo he and a woman he identified as his wife’s “assistant” with his pants unzipped and his bare belly showing, along with her bare midriff and her unzipped jeans shorts.
Church leaders condemned it and called for him to step down. So did a Republican leader in Congress.
“Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), vice chairman of the powerful House Republican Caucus, wrote on Twitter. “I’m convinced Falwell should step down.”
Walker, a Southern Baptist Minister, taught at Liberty. He says Falwell’s behavior has been questionable on other occasions.
Colby Garman, another pastor and member of the executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention, agrees that Falwell should go. Megachurch pastor Dean Inserra, a Liberty graduate, called on the university board to “show some courage” and get rid of Falwell.
“I just want everyone to zip up their pants is all,” Bible teacher Beth Moore told The Washington Post.
The Post also writes:
Jerry Falwell Jr., an early and prominent supporter of President Trump, will take a leave of absence from leading Liberty University after posting a provocative photo to social media that drew widespread criticism, including from other evangelical leaders.-The Washington Post
“That photo shows us why and Trump are so tight,” says North Carolina Republican voter Beth Morgan in an email. “Looks like they enjoy debauchery. That’s just another reason to cross the line and vote for Joe Biden in November.”
“More vacation shots. Lot of good friends visited us on the yacht,” Falwell said in the caption to the photos he posted on Instagram. He has since removed the photos and comments and has refused all requests for statements and interviews.
Before his suspension by the university, however, he spoke to Lynchburg radio station WLNI and said the woman in the photo was his “wife’s assistant” and called her the “inspiration” for unzipping his pants.
“She’s pregnant, so she couldn’t get her pants up,” he told the host. “And I had on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn in a long time, so I couldn’t get mine zipped, either. And so I just put my belly out like hers. She’s a sweetheart and I should never have put it up and embarrassed her.”
Others at Liberty felt the stunt embarrassed more than just he and the woman.
Jerry Prevo, chairman of the board of trustees at Liberty, said the board “mutually agreed that it would be good for him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”
Prevo’s written statement:
This was a decision that was not made lightly, and which factored the interests and concerns of everyone in the LU community, including students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, leaders of the Church, as well as the Falwell family. To support Jerry through this period, we ask that our entire community lift him up in prayer so he may be able to fulfill God’s purpose for him and for Liberty University.-Jerry Prevo
This latest incident is not the first time Falwell has upset the school’s board.
Mark DeMoss, former chairman of the executive committee of the board, resigned over Falwell’s endorsement of Trump, saying the New York real estate developer and former reality TV host’s vulgar and insult-laden presidential campaign was “a flagrant rejection of the values that Falwell Sr. espoused and that Liberty aims to promote.”
Jerry Falwell Sr. was a co-founder of the university,
Falwell Jr. clamped down on others who dissented with his decision on Trump, firing staff members who publicly disagreed and expelling students who protested. A detailed story on his antics were outlined in September of last year by Politico.
In interviews over the past eight months, they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.-Politico
“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances told Politico. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
Writer Brandon Ambrosino also reported in Politico:
At Liberty, Falwell is “very, very vocal” about his “sex life,” in the words of one Liberty official—a characterization multiple current and former university officials and employees interviewed for this story support. In a car ride about a decade ago with a senior university official who has since left Liberty, “all he wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” this former official recalled. Falwell did not respond to questions about this incident.
More than simply talking with employees about his wife in a sexual manner, on at least one occasion, Falwell shared a photo of his wife wearing what appeared to be a French maid costume, according to a longtime Liberty employee with firsthand knowledge of the image and the fallout that followed.
Falwell intended to send the image to his and Becki’s personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite, as a “thank you” for helping his wife achieve her fitness goals, the employee said. In the course of texting, Falwell accidentally sent the message to several other people, necessitating a cleanup.
In a statement, Falwell denied this. “I never had any picture of Becki Falwell dressed in a French maid uniform, and never sent such a non-existent photo to Ben Crosswhite.”
The Falwells’ close relationship with Crosswhite is the source of consternation for some of Liberty’s top brass because of what they characterize as a sweetheart business deal Falwell had the university offer Crosswhite.
On July 23, 2013, Liberty University began renting space to Crosswhite for use as a fitness center. “The facility was specifically built into the old Racket Club for Jerry and Becki to train privately” with Crosswhite, a longtime university official familiar with the arrangement said. Over the course of the Falwells’ private training,Liberty began to pay for expensive upgrades to the facility, according to documents reviewed for this article. Eventually, in 2015, Falwell had a university executive draft a proposal for Liberty to sell the property to Crosswhite at a discount, paying him up front for Liberty’s use of the facility for the next seven years.
“We raised his rent some to cover the investment. LU then sold it to Ben,” one senior university official said. “Nobody else was allowed to bid on it.”
Crosswhite did not respond to requests for comment.–Brandon Ambrosino of Politico
The Miami Herald investigated one Falwell’s real estate deals involving a gay hostel in South Beach and raised questions about the Falwell’s partying at discos and other bars.
The story, headlined “How cut-rate SoBe hostel launched Jerry Falwell Jr. ‘pool boy’ saga, naked picture hunt” talked about racy photos and social antics expressly prohibited by the “values” enforced by Liberty on its students and employees.
The Herald reported on June 19, 2019:
It was an unusual partnership: The president of the largest Christian university in the world, a school that prohibits gay sex, agreeing to operate a Miami Beach hostel, regarded as gay friendly, in conjunction with a “pool boy” with virtually no hotel management experience after they met at the storied Fontainebleau, a favored South Florida vacation ground for the Falwells. Yet there they were, not only business partners but mingling socially at Cheeca, an idyllic, exclusive resort in the Keys.–The Miami Herald
During investigations by Congress, former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen said he was dispatched to “clean up” the mess and get rid of some photos, including some of Falwell’s wife, Becki, in a skimpy French maid’s uniform.
I have raised the question of hypocrisy at Liberty University in the past, including wondering why the school would seek hosting the Miss Virginia Pageant, a beauty contest that shows more skin on stage than any coed at the school could exhibit without getting expelled.
Double standards exist in many places, especially religion and politics, which have become longtime bedfellows.