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Thread: ‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence

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    fgg
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    Default ‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence

    More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world.

    At Liberty University, all anyone can talk about is Jerry Falwell Jr. Just not in public.

    “When he does stupid stuff, people will mention it to others they consider confidants and not keep it totally secret,” a trusted adviser to Falwell, the school’s president and chancellor, told me. “But they won’t rat him out.”

    That’s beginning to change.

    Over the past year, Falwell, a prominent evangelical leader and supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under increasing scrutiny. News outlets have reported on business deals by Liberty University benefiting Falwell’s friends. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell clean up racy “personal” photographs.

    Based on scores of new interviews and documents obtained for this article, concerns about Falwell’s behavior go well beyond that—and it’s causing longtime, loyal Liberty University officials to rapidly lose faith in him.

    More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell spoke to me or provided documents for this article, opening up—for the first time at an institution so intimately associated with the Falwell family—about what they’ve experienced and why they don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement.

    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.

    “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

    Liberty employees detailed other instances of Falwell’s behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school’s founder and Falwell Jr.’s father, and his Moral Majority.

    In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the run-up to Trump’s presidential campaign, Cohen hired John Gauger, a Liberty University employee who runs a private consulting firm, to manipulate online polls in Trump’s favor. Not previously reported is the fact that, according to a half-dozen high-level Liberty University sources, when Gauger traveled to New York to collect payment from Cohen, he was joined by Trey Falwell, a vice president at Liberty. During that trip, Trey posted a now-deleted photo to Instagram of around $12,000 in cash spread on a hotel bed, raising questions about his knowledge of Gauger’s poll-rigging work. Trey did not respond to requests for comment.

    Jerry Falwell Jr. responded to more than two dozen written questions, defending his actions and criticizing the reporting of this article. “I fear that the true information I am sharing in good faith will simply not make any difference. And will only result in more questions,” Falwell said. He declined to answer subsequent questions.

    The string of news articles over the past several months has had a minimal effect on Falwell’s leadership of Liberty University. As the namesake of the school’s founder, Falwell has never had his position seriously challenged. Liberty is thriving financially. Its enrollment has surged past 110,000 students—the vast majority of whom are enrolled online—and across its campus in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the hum of backhoes and bulldozers is omnipresent as construction crews work to keep pace with the university’s swelling ambitions.

    But these new revelations speak to rising discontent with Falwell’s stewardship. The people interviewed for this article include members of Liberty’s board of trustees, senior university officials, and rank-and-file staff members who work closely with Falwell. They are reluctant to speak out—there’s no organized, open dissent to Falwell on campus—but they said they see it as necessary to save Liberty University and the values it once stood for. They said they believe in the Christian tradition and in the conservative politics at the heart of Liberty’s mission. Many knew Jerry Falwell Sr. and remember him with clear affection. “The day that man died was the day I lost a father,” one current university official said. All count themselves as conservatives. Many are strong supporters of Trump.

    I am a graduate of Liberty University, and my time there overlapped the tenures of both Falwell Sr. and his son. Over the course of my years of reporting on the university, the Falwells have granted me considerable access, including sit-down interviews in the offices of both Falwell Jr. and his brother, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, who leads Thomas Road Baptist Church. I’ve written candidly about my time there as a student, reported about political divisions on campus and revealed that Trey co-owns a gay-friendly hostel in Miami.

    Members of the Liberty University community are generally reluctant to go on the record. The school uses nondisclosure agreements to prohibit many university employees or board members from openly discussing what they’ve seen Falwell do. (“All trustees sign a confidentiality agreement that does not expire at the close of Board service,” Liberty’s attorney told board members in an email that was sent earlier this month after the school received inquiries from reporters on some of the issues outlined in this article.) Tenure and its protections are not available to Liberty faculty members outside the law school. If you teach or work at Liberty, you must get approval from Falwell’s office before you speak to the media. Talk to reporters without his approval—or publicly criticize him, even obliquely—and you could lose your job. If you’re a board member and do the same, you could get forced out, even if you have unimpeachable credentials in the Christian conservative movement.

    “It’s a dictatorship,” one current high-level employee of the school said. “Nobody craps at the university without Jerry’s approval.”

    “Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear,” said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications. The fear is not limited to Liberty’s campus. Several people who lack any tie to Liberty but live in the school’s hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, refused to go on the record for this story, fearing Falwell would take revenge upon them and their families. “Fear is probably his most powerful weapon,” a former senior university official said.

    But even those who fear have their breaking points.

    In speaking out, said one longtime current university employee with close ties to the school’s first family, “I feel like I’m betraying them in some way. But someone’s gotta tell the freakin’ truth.”

    “We’re talking about the difference between right and wrong,” a current high-ranking university official said. “Not even ‘being a Christian,’ but being a good person, versus people who manipulate the system”

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...y-loans-227914

    very long article...remainder at the link.
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    Elite Member lindsaywhit's Avatar
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    I read the first paragraph and the last three.

    I'm shocked. Speechless.

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    Elite Member stella blue's Avatar
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    Anyone who thinks that’s a real college deserves to have their money taken.

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    Elite Member Bluebonnet's Avatar
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    Even conservative Christians roll their eyes at this.
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    Silver Member Jadestone's Avatar
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    I went to Politico to read the rest and had to skim a lot because it's mostly about finances and real estate and such, but there's a lot of dissent bubbling up at Liberty University and the area where it's located. I just don't see how anything can come of it if he has such control over the board of directors and everything.

    Falwell, Jr. seems to follow the Trump code of denying everything even when there's photographic evidence, and his wife and son are helping him consolidate power and hush up problems.

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    Elite Member ShimmeringGlow's Avatar
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    Context: Falwell’s Liberty University forbids students from dancing and fines them $25 plus demerits if caught simply attending a dance.

    https://twitter.com/HelenKennedy/status/1171425071308713984?s=20


    Jerry Falwell Jr. repeatedly told
    @BrandonAmbro
    that photos of him at a Miami nightclub were photoshopped.The photo team that was there took exception to that.Today, World Red Eye released more photos from that night showing Falwell:



    https://t.co/k3yAquTGif?amp=1

    https://twitter.com/zackstanton/status/1171421895226535936?s=20
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    Elite Member sprynkles's Avatar
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    I don't think it says anywhere in the Bible that you can't dance.

    "A massive penis means never having to say you're sorry". Mo

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    Elite Member ShimmeringGlow's Avatar
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    Liberty Univ. President Jerry Falwell Jr. says he wants the FBI to investigate what he thinks is a “criminal conspiracy” against him by former board members of the conservative Christian school.

    https://twitter.com/MSNBC/status/1171726334281822209
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    Silver Member Jadestone's Avatar
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    ... I stand corrected. He may just pwn himself.

    *brews some tea* *pops some popcorn*

    I'll wait.
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    Elite Member dolem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprynkles View Post
    I don't think it says anywhere in the Bible that you can't dance.
    I can't remember if it does or not. I went to a Christian college and we weren't allowed to dance either. No drinking, sex, drugs, dancing, R-rated movies, boys in dorm rooms (or vice versa), required chapel 3x a week. WTF was I thinking?!

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprynkles View Post
    I don't think it says anywhere in the Bible that you can't dance.
    Not only that - the best dance in the Bible is a striptease for crying out loud!

    ETA:

    Or to put it another way, Southern Baptists are still resentful that the only Baptist in the Bible was beheaded because somebody danced.
    Last edited by MohandasKGanja; September 11th, 2019 at 03:36 PM.
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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Everybody cut loose. Footloose.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
    Laugh Uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.

    - Mark Twain

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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprynkles View Post
    I don't think it says anywhere in the Bible that you can't dance.
    I have a friend who about 10 years ago started attending a Christian church; she told me at one point that until she was willing to give up something that brought her joy (which for her was dancing), she had not truly accepted Christ into her heart...
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    Elite Member sprynkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moongirl View Post
    I have a friend who about 10 years ago started attending a Christian church; she told me at one point that until she was willing to give up something that brought her joy (which for her was dancing), she had not truly accepted Christ into her heart...
    We are saved by grace and not works. If fornicating and adultery are what brought her joy and she had to give those up to be saved, then yes. Not dancing.
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    Exclusive: Falwell blasted Liberty student as 'retarded,' police chief as 'half-wit' in emails

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In emails to his colleagues over the years, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr has denigrated students and staff at the Christian university he runs, referring to one student as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded” and calling the school’s police chief a “half-wit.”

    The barbed comments, contained in email exchanges reviewed by Reuters, emerge as the evangelical political leader is seeking to stem a rash of news reports about his stewardship of the Virginia-based university.

    Falwell said this week he has asked U.S. federal authorities to investigate whether former board members and employees at the nonprofit university may have broken the law and divulged internal school documents to journalists. The request came after recent reports by Reuters and Politico describing how Falwell has managed Liberty.

    Falwell told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that the email disclosures constituted an “attempted coup” aimed at securing his ouster from Liberty, where he has served as president since 2008. The FBI declined to comment.

    As he complains of being targeted by critics, Reuters has found that Falwell himself was disparaging Liberty students, staff and parents for years in emails to Liberty administrators.

    The several dozen emails reviewed by Reuters span nearly a decade-long period starting in 2008. In the emails, Falwell insults some Liberty students, calling them “social misfits.” In others, he blasts faculty members and senior Liberty staff:

    -Ronald Sones, then the dean of the engineering school, was “a bag of hot air” who “couldn’t spell the word ‘profit,’” Falwell wrote in 2011. Sones is no longer the dean and could not be reached for comment.

    -Richard Hinkley, the campus police chief, was “a half-wit and easy to manipulate” and shouldn’t be allowed to speak publicly. Hinkley could not be reached for comment.

    -Of Kevin Keys, then Liberty’s associate athletics director, Falwell wrote in 2012: “Only get Kevin involved in something if you want it not to work.” Contacted by Reuters, Keys said: “I don’t know anything about that and I would prefer not to comment.”

    Falwell was asked to comment on excerpts and summaries of the emails cited in this article. David Corry, Liberty’s general counsel, said Liberty wouldn’t respond “without knowing the details or seeing email chains in their entirety.”



    STEWARDSHIP UNDER SCRUTINY

    Falwell, a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, has been dogged by recent stories about his private dealings and his stewardship of Liberty, which was founded by his father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Among the stories: his ties to Trump’s jailed lawyer Michael Cohen; his business venture with a former Miami hotel pool attendant; and his role in steering a $1.2 million piece of university property to his personal fitness trainer.

    On August 27, Reuters reported how Falwell had helped his young personal trainer, Benjamin Crosswhite. In one email, Falwell wrote, “let’s cut him a sweet deal,” and said -- referring to his wife Rebecca -- “Becki and I wouldn’t mind working out over there with Ben as a trainer because it is more private.”

    Records reviewed by Reuters showed how Falwell approved a 2016 deal to sell Crosswhite a sprawling 18-acre fitness facility the university owned. The deal was financed by Liberty, and Crosswhite put no money down. Crosswhite declined to comment at the time, and the university spokesperson said that it was a good deal for Liberty.

    On September 9, Politico published emails involving Falwell, in a story that alleged he had propagated a “culture of fear” at Liberty and had other inside dealings with family and friends.

    For this story, Reuters has reviewed dozens of additional Falwell email exchanges with other Liberty executives or business partners he considered close confidants. All were sent from his personal account, an Earthlink email domain.

    The selection of emails provides a glimpse of the management style Falwell employs to run the nonprofit Christian university, which reports $2.8 billion in assets. Several of the emails take a derogatory tone toward Liberty parents, students, and other university officials.

    In one 2012 email, Falwell dismisses Liberty parents who begged the school not to move their kids from on-campus dorms to off-campus housing in the middle of their freshman year when Liberty sought to raze some dorms to build new ones.

    In response to one mother’s letter expressing concern for how the move could affect her daughter, emails show, a top Liberty administrator sent a reassuring letter. Falwell struck a less sympathetic tone. “Tell them, if they keep complaining, we’ll tear them down over Thanksgiving break!” Falwell wrote to Liberty officials.

    Among other emails he sent to colleagues, Falwell referred in 2015 to students who tried to avoid Liberty parking fees by using a private lot off campus: “These students need to learn to play by the rules or they can go to another college. I’m tired of this crap. Thanks! Jerry.”

    Of students who chose to work out in a Liberty-owned off-campus gym: “They seem to be social misfits,” he wrote in 2013. The email shows Falwell wanted to bar students from working out at that gym, where he and other top Liberty executives wanted to train in private.

    Of another student, Falwell wrote in 2010: He “is emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded.” Reuters wasn't able to locate the former student for comment.

    https://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-fal...134917164.html
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