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Holier-than-thou Christian university boss Jerry Falwell Jr takes ‘leave of absence’ after bizarre unzipped trousers photo

Nick Duffy August 10, 2020
Liberty university coronavirus COVID-19

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell with Donald Trump. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Anti-LGBT evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr has been placed on a “leave of absence” from Liberty University after concern over his increasingly-erratic and scandal-prone behaviour.

The private Christian university, founded up by Falwell Jr’s father, bans alcohol and forces all students to sign a statement promising not to have gay sex.

But despite placing an emphasis on a homophobic notion of sexual “morality”, eyebrows have long been raised over the antics of Falwell Jr, president of the conservative institution.

Holier-than-thou university boss Jerry Falwell Jr keeps finding himself in hot water.

Falwell Jr, a key evangelical ally of Donald Trump, paid an undisclosed sum last year as part of an out-of-court settlement over his unlikely business relationship with a Miami Beach pool boy.

The settlement followed an uncovered recording in which infamous Trump fixer and convicted criminal Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell to prevent the release of sexually compromising photos.

More bizarre behaviour from Falwell Jr surfaced last week, when the university boss posted a since-deleted Instagram photo of himself on a yacht with his arm around a woman – with his jeans unzipped, midriff exposed and underwear on display.

Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of one of America's largest Christian colleges, was abraded by right-wing criticism for a photograph of himself and a woman at a party. (Instagram)
Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of one of America’s largest Christian colleges, faced criticism for a photograph of himself and a woman at a party. (Instagram)

A tired-sounding Falwell Jr later called into a radio station, defending his conduct while making clear he would “try to be a good boy from here on out”.

Liberty University places president on ‘indefinite leave of absence’.

Several scandals later, Liberty University has decided to finally address Falwell Jr’s ongoing antics, placing him on a “leave of absence” – a much lighter punishment than a student would typically receive for the high crime of getting married to someone of the same sex.

The university said in a statement on Friday: “The executive committee of Liberty University’s board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”

Donald Trump has maintained close ties with the university, which has become a common campaign stop for conservative Republicans courting the evangelical vote.

Liberty University banned all LGBT+ groups in 2006 on the grounds of ‘morality’, and in 2014 secured an exemption from federal anti-discrimination laws to allow it to discriminate against LGBT+ people.

Its conduct rules state: “Sexual relations outside of a Biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.”

More: Donald Trump, Jerry Falwell Jr, liberty university

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