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The Risky Business of Liberty University



I am in one business but not another. Let me start with the business I'm not in. I'm not in the business of trashing other people or organizations. I'm not in the business of being mean, vindictive, or spiteful. I'm not in the business of arrogantly standing in judgment of others. At the same time, I am in the business of asking questions...logical questions that get to the heart of organizational inconsistencies, conundrums, and oddities. I'm in the business of trying to understand the not-so-understandable. I'm in the business of seeing smoke and wondering where the fire is. And when I consider the mega-Christian institution of higher education that is Liberty University, I cannot help but wonder about a few things (presented below in no particular order).


1. Why does a Christian university align itself so closely with one political party and, thus, alienate all other political parties and their adherents? Is this the call of Christ...to isolate oneself from large segments of society?


2. Who is Giancarlo Granda (a.k.a. "the pool boy"), and what could possibly motivate Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, Becki, to foster such a close relationship with him...one that resulted in a rather sizable business loan? See https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/18/us/trump-falwell-endorsement-michael-cohen.html and https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-jerry-falwell-jr-miami-beach-pool-boy-evangelical-explained-850380/


3. What do the purportedly compromising photographs of Jerry and Becki Falwell show? Why would Michael Cohen have possession of them, and why would he describe their contents in such unflattering terms? See https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/cohen-claimed-he-helped-bury-personal-photographs-of-jerry-falwell-jr-before-the-evangelical-leader-backed-trump/2019/05/07/5e5c1664-7114-11e9-9f06-5fc2ee80027a_story.html


4. Is the Liberty University Board of Trustees an impartial board, or is it a puppet regime for the Falwell family business, as some accuse? Why did Mark Demoss leave the Board of Trustees so soon after making critical comments about the university president in 2016? See https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2016/may/mark-demoss-explains-why-he-resigned-from-liberty-university-board


5. Why is the Provost's Office such a revolving door of administrators? Why have no less than five provosts or vice provosts been replaced, removed, or fired since 2016? Why is the university currently administered through a two-provost structure, something quite atypical in higher education? See https://www.liberty.edu/offices/provost/index.cfm?PID=6911


6. Why does Jerry Falwell, Jr. make almost $1 million per annum as president of Liberty University? See https://www.newsadvance.com/archives/falwell-is-no-in-salary-ranking/article_5d7ee779-e8fe-58fc-add8-ff72767efbc3.html


7. Is Liberty University truly operating as a tax-exempt institution? Does the recent Ben Crosswhite controversy in any way violate its tax-exempt status? What about sales of property to family members, property acquisitions in Florida, etc.? See https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-falwell-trainer-exclusive/exclusive-falwell-steered-liberty-university-land-deal-benefiting-his-personal-trainer-idUSKCN1VH283, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/25/jerry-falwell-miami-hostel-liberty-university-trey-falwell-215528, and https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/08/28/liberty-university-pushes-back-against-allegations-not-reporting-home-sale-trey


8. Why has Liberty University recently hired two individuals (Ian McCaw and Hugh Freeze) who left other universities amid sex/sexual abuse scandals? Were they truly the best candidates evangelical Christianity could offer for the jobs? See https://www.richmond.com/sports/college/liberty-university-hires-former-baylor-athletic-director-who-resigned-during/article_6b0d1759-7c3d-5626-a5a0-ff7776bc267b.html and https://wtkr.com/2018/12/07/after-moral-turpitude-costs-him-ole-miss-job-hugh-freeze-hired-as-liberty-universitys-head-football-coach/


9. Why did Liberty University fire 12 long-standing religion faculty members so late in the 2018-2019 academic year, thus giving them little or no opportunity to acquire positions at other universities for the following academic year? And why were these faculty members required to sign non-disclosure agreements? Were they some sort of threat to the university? What was that threat? See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/06/17/liberty-university-cuts-divinity-faculty


10. What or who was behind John Gauger (Liberty University's CIO) and Michael Cohen's plot to rig news-site polls in 2015 prior to the 2016 Presidential election? See https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/17/cohen-poll-rigging/2601299002/


Of course, we may never fully know the answers to these and many other questions. But they are nonetheless intriguing. And they make me pause to ask another series of questions. Why do so many Christians continue to support an institution that evidences such suspicious and controversial activities? Why does the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (Liberty University's regional accreditor) seem unconcerned about the university's apparent culture of shadowy leadership? And is Liberty University truly in the business of training "Champions for Christ," as its motto asserts, or is there some ulterior motive being perpetrated by Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his close underlings...some sort of "risky business" that should concern everyone who proclaims the name of Christ? I'm not sure. Just asking...

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