In the article, Ambrosino offers information collected from close associates of Falwell and more than two dozen “current and former high-ranking officials at Liberty University”.
Included in the article, are pictures of Falwell partying at a Miami nightclub, evidence of texting naughty pictures of his wife in a French maid costume to several people, talking about his sex life openly with employees, having a hand in dirty politics including damning evidence of one of Liberty’s employees being paid to manipulate online polls in Trump’s favor.
Beyond that, there is large mismanagement of University funds. According to an official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances, “we’re not a school, we’re a real estate hedge fund”. Including funds being invested towards Falwell’s son Trey who happens to co-own a gay-friendly hostel in Miami.
As one of the many 110,000 students currently enrolled at Liberty, my take on this article may be a bit out of the norm.
I am not angry at all of Falwell’s lifestyle choices. Contrary to the University’s standards, I enjoy a night at a club dancing. I like drinking alcohol with friends (dirty martini please!). I don’t judge people for their sex lives (none of my business) and I think it’s great to support gay-friendly businesses.
None of that angers me.
But the hypocrisy does.
I am not your traditional Liberty student. I defend LGBTQ rights, I write papers regarding racial issues inside Christianity, I openly posted on Instagram the fact that I swear, I don’t believe in pushing beliefs on anyone (in which I wrote about in a required class on evangelism).
I am divorced, I don’t think sex before marriage is a ticket to hell (I actually question the legitimacy of hell altogether), I am a seeker, a questioner and one who openly professes that I don’t have the corner on God because I don’t believe in a God that can be cornered.
I sit with the outcasts.
I love and accept those who many churches say aren’t really Christians.
I officiate same-sex weddings.
I am friends with those who practice different faiths.
I open my home to anyone and everyone.
The difference between me and Jerry Falwell Jr, isn’t that I’m not afraid to be open about my convictions – it’s that I choose to honor my convictions even though I’m scared of the consequences.
The cost of living authentically is high.
I lost a majority of my following when I started writing honestly. I lost many friends when I opened up about my marriage and filed for divorce. I am no longer a pastor. I lost my career and much of what I had built. I continue to wrestle with the loss of community.
I’m not perfect at living authentically. I still struggle to be fully open about my beliefs. In many ways, I am still quite private. BUT, I have not built an empire on principles that I do not believe in. I continue to challenge myself to be more brave, more honest and more real.
Yet Falwell leads an empire where…
- Students can receive demerits for co-ed dancing
- Students can be expelled for drinking
And…Falwell was photographed at a nightclub. With dancing. And drinking.
- Openly opposes LGBTQ rights – yet financially invests in an LGBTQ-friendly business
- Openly stands for morality – yet talks about his sex life with employees and texts racy pics of his wife to others
Falwell is one of America’s leading front men for a faith based on the life of Jesus.
Who told the wealthy to give what they had to the poor
Who opposed political parties that oppressed others
Who would rather wash feet than be crowned a king
Who lived authentically at the cost of his life
Yes, the two look quite different.
But, before you grab a stone to throw at Falwell, know that he is not all that unusual. Many who claim this faith and even lead in it, live a separate life behind closed doors.
I openly wrote about my experiences of abuse by men under the name Christianity in a recent article. It was painful to write, but again, my story isn’t out of the norm either.
I do not write any of this lightly, as I see this as an epidemic infesting Western Christianity. When leadership lives falsely, the behavior trickles down the chain. Into livingrooms, marriage beds, online chats and loads of secrets that destroy everyday marriages, families, careers, and relationships.
It’s why many “Christian” men…
Raise their hands in church and cheat on their wife the following week
Read the Bible to their kids and then hop online as soon as the family is asleep
Don’t follow through on their word
Fill their homes with anger and fear
Do not take responsibility for their actions
Refuse to pay child support
Leave their family and start over giving everything to their new family
Lead Bible studies and then abuse their family after
Cheat on their taxes
(do I need to continue? I think I’ve made my point)
We have an open bleed in the Christian faith. The bleed starts with hypocrisy. Arrogance. And a belief that one has the corner on God.
Sadly, this has become the norm.
It is rare to find leaders who model Jesus….it’s rare because it doesn’t pay well. It doesn’t offer crowns or recognition.
It offers a lot of time spent in the wilderness. Dirt, dust and long journeys. It offers mockery and judgment. And at some point, a crucifixion – because power will always rise up against authenticity.
Authenticity is what those in power fear most; it is often the one thing they don’t have.
Although the authentic life is wild and carved with discomfort, it provides light and freedom. That is something I can personally attest to. I may have lost the life I built (I share this story in a recent podcast episode), but I gained so much more. I gained a light chest. The ability to breathe. A real existence. And a tribe of people who know the real me.
I don’t have to pretend.
Those who live like Jerry Falwell Jr, are trapped in a vicious cycle. Terrified of anyone knowing they are not who they appear to be. Constantly trying to cover up their latest mess.
The façade they create may offer temporary comfort, but at the end of the day, it’s a cage.
We are not meant to be caged – we are meant to be free. The wilderness is where the free ones roam. It is where we find our voices. Where we find ourselves. And where we find the Divine. Not a golden calf resurrected in man-made castles.
As for Jerry Falwell and those who follow similar paths, I sincerely hope this latest forced exposure will bring about needed change in this empire we call Western Christianity.