Back in July, disgraced former Liberty University head Jerry Falwell Jr. filed a trademark infringement suit against the hard-right Christian school he once ran. At the heart of the dispute is whether Liberty University still has the right to use the name and likeness of founder Jerry Falwell Sr. now that Jerry Jr. does not want them to.
That’s the drab, one-sentence version. The real version is much, much more sordid: Falwell the Younger was forced to resign from Liberty after a pattern of behavior ranging from malevolent (his political partnership with fascist propagandist Charlie Kirk) and self-enriching to downright bizarre, culminating in the allegation that his good Christian wife had been banging the couple’s pool boy (and by that we mean their literal, actual pool boy), with some surrounding accusations that suggested Jerry himself wasn’t exactly unaware of the relationship.
Now Falwell’s hitting back. In an amended version of the lawsuit filed last week, Falwell not only accuses the current Liberty University heads of making payoffs in the form of “donations” to organizations “under the control” of Liberty’s heads and their associates, but that actually, now that you mention it, the top offices of the hard-right Christian school are practically sex dens, with everybody having adulterous sex with everybody. Hey, everybody, get a load of the cream of the crop of “Liberty University.”
39. The standard these members of the Board and its Executive Committee purported to hold Mr. Falwell to was different from the standard that Liberty had applied to other high- ranking officials of the University. For example, one former University President was sued by a former Liberty employee for sexual harassment, and Liberty retained him in that position notwithstanding that a payment had to be made to that employee as a result. And it is common knowledge within the relevant communities that Ed Hindson, a recently deceased televangelist and former Dean of Liberty’s School of Divinity, had an extramarital affair during his time at Liberty, and Liberty nonetheless employed him as a high-ranking official after the affair. It is likewise common knowledge within the relevant communities that Ron Godwin, a former provost of Liberty, had an extramarital affair with his secretary while working at a Liberty affiliate Moral Majority, Inc., but, again, Liberty nonetheless employed him as a high-ranking official after the affair. And a current member of the Executive Committee has admitted to previously having more than one affair. All of these incidents involved situations in which officials themselves were engaged in affairs or other misconduct, in contrast to Mr. Falwell, who had not had engaged in similar misconduct or had any affair. And Liberty nonetheless had permitted these individuals to continue in its employ, consistent with a long-standing culture of forgiveness that is part and parcel of Dr. Falwell’s brand of evangelicalism.
In public, the school of hard-right god-bothering bans students from drinking, music with “lewd lyrics,” “hand-holding, kissing, dating,” or engaging in “sexual activity” of any kind. But when it comes to the administration and trustees, it looks like everyone’s banging everyone. Can’t wait for the next Falwell lawsuit to reveal that school heads have set up a full-service abortionplex in the basement of Vines Center.
There’s not a single thing surprising in the news that the people holding their far-right Christian student body to strict no-hand-holding rules is, behind the scenes, just another set of adultery-embracing sexual harassers. Welcome to The Entire Damn Conservative Movement, y’all.
But this could get even more exciting if Falwell Jr. decides he wants to burn the whole school down rather than go away quietly. It’s evident from the lawsuit that Liberty University heads are attempting to deal with the fallout of Falwell’s scandals and resignation by erasing him from campus memory while also doubling down on their association with his deceased father. (One of Liberty’s new purported plans is “a ‘Jerry Falwell’ hologram meant to be a walking, talking, interactive version of Dr. Falwell” to serve as apparent campus tour guide. Being led around campus by a transparent talking corpse sounds only barely creepier than having to hear about Jerry Falwell’s pool boy.)
It will be interesting to see how Liberty’s student body deals with the revelations that their elders have been conning them on this sex stuff the whole damn time they’ve been there. Students there have a lot of free time to think about things like that since they’re not allowed to drink or hold hands. But on the other hand, if they hadn’t already figured that out from the moment they arrived on campus, there’s probably no hope they’ll figure it out now.
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