Falwell Takes Leave After Controversy Over Photo

Liberty University asks president to step aside, at least temporarily
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 7, 2020 5:00 PM CDT
Falwell Agrees to Step Away From Liberty
Jerry Falwell Jr., shown in 2018, has been placed on leave.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence as president and chancellor of Liberty University, the private school his father founded. The university said Friday that it made the request of Falwell, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately." No reason was given, the AP reports, but Falwell has been under criticism and faced calls to resign over a vacation photo showing him with his arm around a woman, both of whom have their pants unzipped. "I've apologized to everybody," he said this week. But on Thursday, a member of Congress who's also a Baptist minister and used to be an instructor at Liberty, joined the calls for Falwell's resignation, per the Washington Post. Rep. Mark Walker, a North Carolina Republican, said that for him, the photo was the last straw. "Jerry Falwell Jr's ongoing behavior is appalling," Walker tweeted. "I'm convinced Falwell should step down."

Among the criticisms was that Liberty wouldn't put up with students acting like that. Falwell, who has been the president of the largest Christian university in the US since 2007, has dealt with a series of scandals, per Forbes. In 2015, he called on students to carry concealed weapons so they could "end those Muslims before they walked in," alluding to a deadly a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Photos from 2014 showed him and his family partying at a nightclub. There were questions about the personal and business relationship Falwell and his wife had with a 21-year-old pool attendant, per BuzzFeed. In the past few months, per the Post, opposition to Falwell has been building among students and alumni. "None of us are perfect," Walker posted, "but students, faculty, alumni and @LUPraise deserve better."

(More Jerry Falwell Jr. stories.)

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