I’ve been hitting my alma mater, Liberty University, quite a bit since Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. decided to betray everything that is the core mission of the college, in favor of endorsement of an unrepentant, lecherous, cheating con artist for the presidency.
I should say, more specifically, I enjoyed my classes. I enjoyed my professors. I enjoyed the other students, but now, I’m disgusted and regret my decision to trust my higher education needs to Liberty.
All my scorn, all my wrath, all my disgust is reserved for the Falwell family, with good cause.
Psalm 118:8 NLT – “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.”
I’ll equally admit that I had no ill feelings towards the Falwells until Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump over the Christians who were running for the GOP nomination. During the primaries, and in spite of Falwell Jr’s endorsement, the voting student body of Liberty went overwhelmingly in favor Senator Marco Rubio. Compare Rubio’s 44 percent of the student body vote to Trump’s 8 percent of the vote (or Ted Cruz’s 33 percent) and you get a fair picture of how Falwell’s actions are viewed by the school he presides over.
For whatever the intentions of Jerry Falwell Sr, he left control of his legacy in the hands of a vile man, and as more is uncovered, we can expect the Falwell name to become synonymous with hypocrisy.
Politico Magazine has featured a story in its Friday edition of some of the secretive dealings of Falwell Jr. and how he is attaching Liberty University’s reputation to some of the seediest, debauched behavior imaginable. In fact, his fondness for Trump is suddenly quite understandable.
Brandon Ambrosino, writing for Politico, weaves a tale of unbelievable debauchery and corruption, all courtesy of Jerry Falwell Jr. and his son, Jerry Falwell III (Trey).
At Liberty University, the Christian private school at which Falwell Jr. is the president and Trey is the vice president for university operations—and from which I graduated in 2011—all manner of vice is prohibited. Students, whether on campus or off, and whether school is in session or not—cannot consume alcohol or tobacco. Co-ed sleeping arrangements are verboten. And, in the words of “The Liberty Way,” the school’s student handbook, “homosexual conduct or the encouragement or advocacy of any form of sexual behavior that would undermine the Christian identity or faith mission of the University” are strictly prohibited. Any one of these transgressions could get you saddled with reprimands, financial repercussions, and even expulsion. And yet, here we were, in perhaps the gayest 6 square miles in the United States—South Beach, Miami—staying in Falwell’s gay-friendly flophouse with an on-site liquor store.
Yep. The Falwells own a hostel in South Beach. On the outside of the gate is a sign that says: NO Soliciting Fundraising Politics Salesmen Religion.
Not only do the Falwells own a hostel, with an on-site liquor store, gay-friendly, complete with a rundown bar, but ads for strip joints and prostitution litter the halls.
OH – and it could very well lead to considerable troubles with the IRS, too.
For the university’s students, staff and faculty, “The Liberty Way” is the law of the land—outlining in granular detail how they are expected to behave, act, speak and dress. (Faculty have their own handbook, but it says in boldface type that they are to conduct themselves in a manner “compatible with the Mission of the University and ‘The Liberty Way.’”) Its premise is that every person associated with the university “should avoid any activity, on or off campus, which would contradict the university’s mission or purpose, compromise the testimony or reputation of the university.”
If caught in violation of the Liberty Way, you face dire consequences, including expulsion for students or termination for faculty and staff. Unless, it seems, your last name is Falwell.
The Falwell-owned hostel encourages behavior that would get Liberty students expelled—the drinking, the smoking, the advertising for strip clubs, the free shuttles to local bars, the possibility of co-ed sleeping arrangements, and so on. And they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything from the adjoining liquor store on Falwell’s property—an amenity the hostel touts in the self-description it provides to travel sites like TripAdvisor: “There is a liquor store connected to the hostel with almost anything you need for partying!”
And inside the hostel?
The kitchen was also what you might call the business center: Two computers lined a wall, next to which stood a bookcase with a Bible hidden on the second-to-bottom shelf, buried amid the kind of fiction your fourth-grade teacher might read at the beach. Across from the books was a wall display of Minicards advertising local entertainment and other venues for tourists and offering coupons for their business. One of them caught my eye: a closeup of a redhead with entirely too much eyeshadow, sporting a wide choker around her neck. Tootsie’s Cabaret: 74,000 square feet of adult entertainment and FULL NUDITY.
Another thing that’s the “Liberty way,” apparently, is the lock that is put on speech by faculty. They’re prohibited from speaking to journalists about matters associated with the school, without first clearing it with Falwell’s office. They’re also listed as a non-profit, so they’re prohibited from endorsing or taking a political position, a rule Falwell Jr. seems able to skirt by claiming his endorsement is personal, not representative of Liberty.
I’ve actually spoken with a former faculty member, who was relieved of his duties after 11 years of service, with no explanation. In his personal time he blogged his support of Ted Cruz and his opposition to Trump.
Falwell’s open support of Trump, while preventing faculty and staff from having their say makes it appear as if he’s speaking for all of them, but he’s not.
But back to the hostel:
The hostel is at 810 Alton Road in Miami Beach, on the same parcel of land housing Miami Beach Liquors and Macchialina, a better-than-average Italian restaurant. Documents with the Miami-Dade County Recorder show that on February 21, 2013, that parcel was purchased by Alton Hostel LLC for $4.65 million. At the time, the LLC—which had formed just two weeks earlier, on February 7, 2013—listed Trey Falwell, then 23, as the sole manager of the company. A high-ranking Liberty University source with extensive knowledge of the deal confirmed to POLITICO Magazine that Jerry Falwell gave his son money for the $4.65 million purchase. The same source maintains that the elder Falwell has no business dealings with the property—which may be true, but a May 21 Facebook post shows that Jerry Falwell and his wife, Becki, dined at Macchialina with Giancarlo Granda, Trey’s business partner in the hostel’s LLC.
In its February 2013 articles of organization in Florida, Alton Hostel LLC listed 3200 Sunnymeade Road in Rustburg, Virginia, as its mailing address. According to records filed with the county of Campbell, Virginia, the Sunnymeade property, which is 21 acres in size and includes a three-bedroom house, is currently owned by Trey Falwell and his wife. But at the time of the LLC’s formation in 2013, the property was owned by Liberty University—Trey Falwell and his wife were renting the house from Liberty for $600 a month, according to a high-ranking source who works for the school. The university continued to own the property until it was sold to Trey Falwell in May 2015 for $225,000. Speaking on background, sources at Liberty University told POLITICO Magazine that this price was fair-market value, and was assessed as such by a neutral third party.
So the tax regulation that requires nonprofits to report sales of this manner was skirted. Liberty didn’t report the sale, so you have to wonder if that was just something that was overlooked, or did Falwell Jr. orchestrate it?
A senior official with the school is claiming disclosure was unnecessary, because the sale didn’t constitute an “excess benefit transaction.”
The IRS Form 990 instructions read that business transactions with “interested persons” that exceed $100,000 must be reported. As Liberty’s vice president of university operations and the son of the school’s president, you would think Trey Falwell counts as “interested,” wouldn’t you?
The legal counsel for the school are calling it a “personal transaction.”
The university says it followed protocol by having its board of trustees vote to approve the sale—a vote ahead of which Jerry Falwell excused himself from the room, university officials tell POLITICO Magazine. But a brief look into the board’s history suggests that the board, not unlike the faculty, serves largely at the whims of Jerry Falwell. For example, last year, Mark DeMoss, a Liberty alum, longtime board member and chair of its executive committee—a man whose dedication to Evangelical Christianity is beyond reproach, as evinced by his years of service to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom he likened to a “second father” and for whom he served as chief of staff—was pushed off Liberty’s board after he voiced his disagreement with Falwell’s endorsement of Trump to the Washington Post. Trump, said DeMoss, does not represent the “Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.” Falwell quickly accused DeMoss—the son of the Liberty benefactor whose name graces DeMoss hall, the main building on campus—of being, in DeMoss’ words, the disloyal “political pawn of a rival campaign.” He was gone about a month later.
In other words, there was never any threat of the board voting against this sketchy deal. What Falwell wants – whether it’s to attach the reputation of the college to an immoral con artist, or to indulge in a bit of tax fraud and nepotism – Falwell will get.
“This scenario just feels wrong,” says Kimberly Reeve, an associate professor of business at King’s College and an expert in nonprofit management. She notes that Liberty is in a unique situation: It’s a huge nonprofit organization with significant real estate holdings. For Reeve, the primary question “should be whether or not the sale of this property was in the best interest of the university and helped it fulfill its mission. If questioned, the university should be able to indicate exactly how this sale did that.” Otherwise, such a land sale would suggest that the university was not acting primarily in its own best interests, but instead, acting to the benefit of other parties.
This thing goes on, and goes deep.
Falwell Jr. is paid $900,000 a year to absolutely decimate the stated mission of the college, both in his associations with the ungodly, and his hypocritical stronghold over students, faculty, and the board of trustees.
His belief is that he’s hooked his wagon to political power, and in Trump, he’s found a kindred spirit. That may all be completely so. For Falwell’s slavish devotion to all things Trump, no matter how anathema to the Christian faith, he’s been granted a spot on a task force to identify problems with the Department of Education. It’s a spot that puts him in a unique position of overseeing repeal of matters that could benefit Liberty, and ultimately, the Falwell bottom line.
2 Peter 2:19 AMP – “They promise them liberty, when they themselves are the slaves of depravity—for by whatever anyone is defeated and overcome, to that [person, thing, philosophy, or concept] he is continually enslaved.”