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Liberty U’s Falwell ‘censors’ student newspaper coverage of event or …

President Donald Trump gestures as he stands with Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr., right, during commencement ceremonies at the school in Lynchburg, Va., on May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (RNS) — Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. stifled an effort by the school’s newspaper to report on an event this weekend organized by his critics, said a student editor.

That event featured speakers critical of Falwell, in particular his outspoken support for President Trump, for whom he acts as a faith adviser.

Erin Covey, an assistant news editor at the Liberty Champion and a junior at the university, said she wanted to write about the “Red Letter Revival” — a gathering of progressive evangelical Christians and others in Lynchburg to pray against “toxic evangelicalism” — because it was a large event that involved Liberty students. She said she pursued the story with the approval of her fellow editors, including the Champion editor-in-chief and a faculty adviser.

The two-day event off campus in the university town concludes Saturday (April 7). It drew speakers such as author Shane Claiborne and activist the Rev. William Barber, who have challenged Falwell to a debate. One of the speakers, evangelical pastor and author Jonathan Martin, was removed from Liberty’s campus by police in October after attending a concert there days after calling for a peaceful protest of the school.

Covey said she reached out to Falwell on Thursday afternoon for comment because a representative from the progressive evangelical group Red Letter Christians, which facilitated the event, mentioned the university’s president to her during an interview for the story she planned to write.

“Obviously this was something that we knew (Falwell) would either want to comment on, or at least, definitely, review it before publication because it’s going to mention him,” she said on Friday.

But Covey said that after she contacted Falwell via email, he responded by instructing her not to write the story. A screenshot of his email to her was shown to Religion News Service with the sender’s name and email address cropped out. It said: “No let’s not run any articles about the event. That’s all these folks are here for — publicity. Best to ignore them.”

Covey said she responded with another email, arguing that national publications would likely cover the event (Religion News Service, The New York Times, NPR and others sent reporters) and asking if the paper could still cover the event and include his input. Falwell, she said, did not reply.

Other Liberty students who saw the email from Falwell corroborated Covey’s account but didn’t want to be identified for fear of the consequences. Falwell and other Liberty officials did not respond to requests for comment.

When asked if she considers Falwell’s alleged actions censorship, Covey said yes.

“I do think that currently the level of oversight we have does make it difficult to pursue the accurate journalism that we’re taught in classes,” said the 20-year-old editor, who is pursuing a degree in journalism at Liberty, one of the largest evangelical universities in the nation.

“We’re taught to be unbiased, to pursue both sides of the story, to show both sides fairly. But sometimes, when it comes to these controversial topics that we cover at the Champion, we know we can’t do that.”

When asked why she chose to come forward with her story, Covey said it was partly because discontent has been “building up” after “direct oversight” from administrators increased during and since the 2016 election cycle.

She said the intervention over the Red Letter Revival constituted “the only time where we were told directly by president Falwell, ‘Don’t cover this’ in advance.”

Covey acknowledged that it is “fairly common” to send administrators or faculty articles in which they are mentioned before they are published by the paper, and that sometimes stories are pulled by administrators.

“We are a private university, so the paper is owned by the university, basically,” she said, adding that some level of oversight is “understandable.”

But Covey described more invasive oversight as sometimes frustrating, saying, “It puts the Champion in a position where it’s more a PR vehicle for the university than a newspaper.” And she questioned whether student journalists at other universities grapple with the sort of intervention from college administrators that Liberty student journalists have come to expect.

“We often wonder: Do other private schools deal with this? What are the levels of freedom that other school papers have? Do we have the same freedoms — is this common?”

Jeremy Littau, associate professor of journalism at Lehigh University, said the kind of behavior attributed to Falwell by Covey is more prevalent at private schools than public universities.

“In a public school, it’s often more of a passive-aggressive form of punishment (against student journalists) than outright censorship,” Littau said. “At private universities, though, it’s very different — you don’t have any First Amendment rights as a journalist in those places.”

Littau said Falwell’s alleged response has a “chilling effect” on students “that has the effect of self-censorship.” But while he said he has seen similar issues arise at various private schools, he argued it was especially prevalent at certain religious universities.

“It’s more common at conservative Christian schools,” said Littau, a graduate of Biola University, a Christian college. He suggested that the tension may be a byproduct of conservative evangelicalism, which he said “does not have a strong culture of speaking truth to power outside of a biblical issues context.”

“I don’t think conservative Christianity has a good relationship with journalism. … I think you’ve got now two generations of evangelical Christians who really don’t know what the role of the press is,” Littau said. He later added: “Liberty has the right, legally, to do what they’re (allegedly) doing here, but that doesn’t make it right.”

According to a page on the Liberty University website, the Champion publishes 11 times a semester, distributes 15,500 print copies and is updated online weekly.

Falwell’s intervention with the newspaper over the Red Letter Revival was not the first time he has been accused of curtailing student writers’ freedom of expression. In October 2016, a student op-ed critical of then-candidate Trump was reportedly barred from publication because Falwell told students another article on Trump had already run that week and the publication didn’t need two. The frustrated student subsequently posted the article on Facebook, and it was later published in full on The Daily Beast.

Covey’s account echoes the school’s tight-lipped approach to the revival. One of the only official communications from the school on the matter appears to have come from the campus police department. According to a tweet on Thursday from Claiborne, the author and activist, authorities responded to his request to pray on campus with Falwell and others with a letter informing him that he has been barred from school property and from attending any events there. The letter said that violating the prohibition would be punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine as high as $2,500.

When asked by a reporter to confirm the authenticity of the letter, Liberty police redirected the request to Liberty’s press office, which did not immediately respond.

About the author

Jack Jenkins

Jack Jenkins is a national reporter for RNS based in Washington, covering U.S. Catholics and the intersection of religion and politics.

98 Comments

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  • In a sense, this action somewhat devalues the journalism degrees the school is granting. Among other things.

  • A well-written article, except for the phrase “acts as a faith adviser”. Trump permits no advising on any topic, let alone faith. At least throw an “allegedly” in there.

  • OPEN COMMENT TO SISTER ERIN COVEY

    My Fundamentalist / Evangelical / Pentecostal / Housechurch / Messianic Judaism Heart goes to you, “Erin Covey, … assistant news editor at the Liberty Champion [who] wanted to write about the ‘Red Letter Revival'”!

    BE STRONG IN CHRIST JESUS TO THE END.

    Don’t let the 21st century “savage wolf” (Acts 20:29) & Stumbling Block that this Christian Right Nationalist is, turn you into a Red Letter Revivalist. Nor a Progressive Evangelical. Nor a Liberal Protestant. Nor a None. Nor an Atheist.

    BE STRONG IN CHRIST JESUS TO THE END.

    I’m trying myself. So too my beloved & our loved ones.

  • “The other things … devalue[d]” being – you got a minute? – faith, God & Jesus, sense of purpose, reason to get outta bed tomorrow for church; Christian university, theology, eldership, America, memory of Jerry Falwell; my fellowship with Lynchburg Baptist College / Liberty University graduates.

  • “Burns Strider”, on the other hand, officially was Hillary Clinton’s “2008 ‘faith adviser'”. And there are sexual harassment claims against the guy.

    Also of note, “Shaun Casey … defended Obama’s affiliation with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the controversial and left-wing pastor of the United Church of Christ in Chicago and one-time ‘spiritual adviser’ to Obama.”

    GO FIGURE, RIGHT?

    Source: (1) Ed Kilgore, “Hillary Clinton’s ‘Faith Adviser’ Also Offered Bad Advice”, New York Magazine, January 26, 2018. (2) Penny Starr, “Obama’s Former Faith Adviser: ‘I, Frankly, Am Glad American Civil Religion is Dying’”, CNS News, January 25, 2012.

  • In Evangelicalism, questioning things or expressing disagreement is verboten. Evangelicalism demands 100% obedience down to the tiniest things. And questioning leadership, or worse, disagreeing with it is considered blasphemy and is considered to be a direct challenge to God himself.

    So, seeking to practice journalism or obtaining a degree in it from an Evangelical school like Liberty is kind of useless. It’s really a degree in propaganda for the Evangelical faith. The authoritarianism at places like Liberty undermines the entire premise of journalism.

    It’s ironic that Liberty means “freedom”, yet there is very little of it at Liberty U.

  • Okay, so now let’s check the other side of this story. A snippet from the ChristianNewsWire site:

    “Growing up in a Pentecostal church, I attended many revivals where the Good News of what Jesus has done and continues to do for us was shared and lost souls were saved. But Red Letter Christians’ ‘revival’ offers more condemnation than the hope of Jesus.

    “I’ve listened as speaker after speaker conflated conservative Evangelicals with white supremacists and nationalists, while condemning American exceptionalism, war, and violence. So far, less time has been devoted to God’s goodness and mercy, confession, forgiveness, and redemption.

    “As the wife of a veteran, I found it especially difficult to listen to one speaker tell service men and women that he is ‘not grateful for your service’ and stated ‘fallen soldiers are victims, not heroes.’ Instead of offering tangible national security measures, the speaker suggested we ‘fight evil with poetry.’ This speaker received a standing ovation.

    “Multiple speakers likened silence and inaction to collaboration with evil. I await an outcry and call to action on behalf of persecuted Christians overseas and innocent unborn life, from the Lynchburg ‘revivalists.'”

    — IRD Evangelical Action Director Chelsen Vicari, who attended the “Red Letter” event. (Sorry, I can’t call it a “revival.”)

  • No i’s not, though I would agree with you if it was NYT, Lynchburg newspaper, or RNS.

    There’s NO journalistic obligation for Liberty U to give free media publicity to whiny, biased political attacks upon Liberty’s own president, admins, and evangelical Trump supporters.

    The Lynchburg paper reported that “David Nasser, LU’s senior vice president for spiritual development,” had asked Claiborne to stop what he felt were unfair public attacks on Falwell and the university.

    Claiborne obviously refused. So it’s reasonable that Falwell Jr. decided that Liberty’s student paper would NOT be a free publicity vehicle for Claiborne’s non-stop one-sided whiny mess.

  • Falwell has said that he would still support Trump even if he raped a woman, so I wouldn’t accept his opinion on anything. He is the one giving Liberty University bad press even though he seekins publicity himself.

  • Falwell’s brand of religion needs fear as flames need oxygen.

    It seems as though the misuse of fear does not create immunity from its effects.

  • Falwell’s behavior here is typical of cult leaders. The basic strategy is to keep the gullible members of the cult isolated as much as possible.

  • The good thing about the reaction of Falwell and Liberty University is that they have shown the journalism students the reality of power politics in religion.

  • Well, my husband had one of their nursing graduates as a home health nurse for wound care. She was as competent as the other nurses the agency sent. She was also studying to become a nurse practitioner at Ohio State. N=1 isn’t conclusive, of course, but her degree was valued by a home health agency certified by Medicare and a respected public university. And no, I’m no fan of Liberty University.

  • Very, very sad. Ms. Covey has received an education in journalism that far out weighs what she’s learned in the classroom. At least her advisor on the paper approved the story, so that says something positive.

    On the other hand, my husband taught at an elite private college in a Great Lakes state. Very secular. Christian students of all types from mainline Protestants to evangelical Christians to Roman Catholics to Orthodox Christians had little to no respect, as did Orthodox Judaism. Is that any better?

  • What evangelicals are today is about political power, 7 mountains dominionism, bigotry, money, gun culture
    and a Christian Nationalist white identity movement.

    They are as delusional as the NRA fanatics in dividing the world into “us and them”

    They have acquired so much toxic baggage besides the message of the gospels, that they now resemble cults, exactly like Mormons or JW’s.

    They are blind to all this, and don’t realize that their appeal to many, especially young people is a fool’s errand, precisely
    because they are so intolerant, graceless , and full of hate towards outsiders.

    I am an atheist, but i can certainly respect someone who is at least true to the tenets of the message of Christ

    The Christian Taliban in the USA want theocracy, in plain contradiction to their leader who said “My kingdom is not of this world”

  • “I do think that currently the level of oversight we have does make it difficult to pursue the accurate journalism that we’re taught in classes.”

    Welcome to the reality of your Dear Leader’s insular, oppressive, religio-political ideology indoctrination factory, laughingly called a university, Ms. Covey. By the anemic way you phrased the above statement, you’re either afraid to clearly and boldly call it unjustifiable censorship for fear of being expelled, or you’re already beginning to succumb to the Dear Leader’s way of thinking. I hope it’s only the former.

    Good luck. After you’re out of there either by graduating or expulsion, I hope you can retrieve your integrity and self-respect from the campus security thought jail, and you’re able to become a genuine journalist who stands up to people like Falwell.

  • Pizza is yummy. (There, now I’ve responded to you with something as relevant to the topic at hand as your response was.)

  • This is so typical of right-wing religious folks: they all think they can stop people from learning the news by censoring it locally. They ALL don’t seem to get it that doing what Jerry Jr did is the best way to get people to learn the truth.

    It’s fascinating how these nutty religious authoritarians don’t seem to understand some basic facts about human behavior–and in the end, end up bringing down disrespect themselves upon their institutions.

  • Translation: You didn’t know Clinton & Obama had their exploits with “alleged faith advisors”, too. None any better than Falwell here.

    Now finish up your “yummy [for your tummy] pizza” while swallowing your ego with this life’s lesson for today!

  • It used to be Lynchburg Baptist College but way smaller and not as accredited.

    Wrong about faith-based universities. Ivy League was all faith-based originally.

    Events like this tend to boost up reputation & enrollment. May wanna doublecheck LU’s corporate sponsors. And famous graduates.

    LU is here to stay. And then some. No politics and no politicking gonna change that.

    I despise LU but that’s beside the point.

  • Interesting angle there, brother. Which our sister Erin Covey would’ve seized upon, had our brother Jerry Falwell Junior not censored free speech. Reading your comments he should have no fear of bad press. BUT HE WAS AFRAID AND FAITHLESS.

    No, he is one Evangelical Savage Wolf risking damnation. There, I said it. His time to repent is NOW.

  • The faith of the Christian students had little or no respect by probably at least 75% of the faculty and well over half of the academic staff. The only Christian in the Religion Department was a very liberal Roman Catholic. Nice guy, but scratch the surface and it was obvious that he disavowed most of the Nicene Creed, let alone Catholic doctrine. To the best of my knowledge, very few Jewish faculty practiced their faith, even on the High Holidays.

    Clerical, skilled trades, custodial, IT, and food service staff were quite different: about half were practicing Christians, and most of the rest were respectful of Christian faith even if they didn’t practice it.

    On the other hand, the faculty who were Christians did quietly supported Christian students and encouraged them to “keep the faith”. Although my husband wasn’t a Christian during his time there (he now is), he was respectful of Christians.

  • Why should people respect what they consider to be as daft an idea as homeopathy, scientology, anti-vaxism or flat-earthism?

    Everyone is entitled to believe what they like but when they share their beliefs they are inviting comment, criticism and ridicule directed at those ideas.

    General advice – If you can’t take the heat don’t start the fire.

  • And you know all of this, how?

    Also, if would be very helpful if you defined exactly what you mean by “Christian”. For example, is a liberal Episcopalian or Catholic a Christian, in your view?

  • This tendency increases proportionally to one’s confidence in the rightness of one’s belief – regardless of the actual beliefs.

  • Liberty is a wingnut welfare finishing school. It garners no respect outside of far right wing political organizations.

  • Their law school is considered one of the worst in the country. You are the second person here to boost the school while claiming to dislike it. It is a lame ploy.

  • Don’t ever have to care what they did. The only purpose of bringing them up is to deflect the conversation and declare the speaker’s lack of objective ethics and morals. If you objected to it then and do so now, you have standards. But more likely you ignored it back then and only bring it up now to defend the current bad actions.

  • Liberty University:
    • War on dissent is Peace with God’s Will;
    • Freedom to speak truth to power is Slavery to Satan;
    • Ignorance of the outside world is Strength within the filter-bubble.

  • Dishonesty does not prevent a person from defining honesty, but it does prevent a person from being defined as honest. Nobody is teaching that better by example than Jerry Falwell and the Liberty University school of journalism…but I don’t like how they teach punctuation: and; syntax when they’ve arranged! Words and marks and taught syntax and punctuation-(“close” quotes)?

    I think there is a difference between what is being taught and what is being represented at Liberty U. Without a journalism degree from an Ivy League school I find that thought hard to articulate. As we all know, one is not honestly articulate unless one is defined by the honesty of his superior education.

  • Let honesty have the greatest influence over yourself. Not sure who is teaching that very well right now.

  • If you want to go to a religious school, then do so. If you are at a secular college, then do not be surprised that people are humanists.

  • But is it really “censorship”, HpO?

    Shane Claiborne and his gang have been openly attacking Donald Trump, Falwell Jr, and evangelical Trump supporters for quite a while now.

    Yes, Claiborne has the right to do so, (except on LU property, as he found out.) But does LU have either a journalistic or a Christian obligation to give free media publicity to this guy’s attacks, which LU has clearly said are unfair?

    The answer has to be “No” on both counts. On the Christian side, LU doesn’t have to — and should NOT — devote a single minute of its own media resources to letting Shane beat them up.

    But the Bible also tells Christians not to bite and devour each other. President Falwell, by telling the LU paper, “Let’s ignore him”, has chosen the best Christ-like response to a war situation. De-escalate. Walk away from your Christian att

  • Years ago I was the Sunday speaker at the Unitarian church in Lynchburg. After the service I found that the religion editor of the Lynchburg paper ha d covered my talk. I asked why he covered a sermon at a local Unitarian church instead of something big at the same time at Falwell’s “university.” He replied that events at Liberty U were covered by the paper’s business editor.

    We might also note that ministers in Lynchburg and NY who had been critical of Jerry Falwell found themselves audited by the IRS. Coincidence?

    — Edd Doerr

  • That’s a good reason to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, wouldn’t you agree?

    Then the ministers on your side of the fence, and on my side of the fence, could both do their 1st Amendment rights as preachers should, with NO political games coming from the IRS.

  • Do they automatically receive respect because they are religious? Are they entitled to more respect because they are religious? Are they respected as human beings, because their religious beliefs are irrelevant? Do they get the same respect as everyone else whether religious or not? Do they respect other people of different religions? Are their religious beliefs respectable? Since they are going to a secular institution, i9s there any reason why their religion should be respected any more than people’s secular beliefs?
    These are all the questions that you need to answer.

  • He never said that. Opponents attack people when they cannot come up with an honest rebuttal of exactly what it is they want. Those opposed to him never get specific.

  • Ok, here’s specifically what Falwell Jr. said. He was asked by Erin Burnett if he would still support Trump if he received oral sex in the Oval Office from a 22-year-old female intern. Falwell indicated that he still would support his Dear Leader. Good thing it wasn’t a male intern, right?

  • What kind of sick mind even comes up with such questions? I doubt he even answered such a question.Well, I doubt Erin actually asked it. How about staying on point? Give a specific list of things you want Trump to do. Make it specific, not those general things roll around the internet.

  • That’s not the other side of the story. It’s not like the Liberty newspaper printed a news article with fawning and glowing praise about the event. The story is that they were prevented from printing *anything.*

  • You want me to give a list of things I want Trump to do, and you accuse me of not being on point? I was responding to you and Susan, nothing more. If you want to see the interview, just google “Erin Burnett Jerry Falwell Jr.” It will be the first link. My rendition of it was kinder. H/t to Spuddie below. JFJ brought up that Bill Clinton was accused of rape. Burnett asked him if that would be a line for him. Fallwell answered that he would have to look at the circumstances. Susan was right.

  • How do I know this? 1) My husband taught there for 26 years. 2) I attended some of his faculty parties. Religion was openly mocked and derided. Faculty wondered why students couldn’t lose the “brainwashing” they had learned at home. I defended my faith and that of those of the students. Most there thought I had a few screws loose or my elevator didn’t rise to the top, although I had a B.S. from a very well-regarded state university, was working toward an M.S. from that state’s flagship public university and held a full-time professional position at a nonprofit research institute. (They all knew this.) At the time my small-to-medium sized church (150 members) included a physician, a nurse practitioner, a Ph.D. chemist who successful started his own business, three professional mental health professionals, teachers, a CPA, and grad students. And I told I boldly told those faculty members, too. Guess we were all stupid and deluded, too. 3) My husband, although not a Christian at the time, was sympathetic to Christians and practicing Jews. I provided him with information about the positive contributions of Christians to societies worldwide and he inclued it in his lectures where appropriate. Christian students thanked him privately and told him that rarely happened.

    Does that answer your question?

  • That’s not the point. Of course, no student of faith doesn’t expect love and kisses at a secular institution. But outright disrespect is far different than live and let live. And at the time, the college was still nominally Christian and received a subsidy every year from its denomination.

  • I can stand the heat, believe me. You know nothing about my life. But it’s made my faith stronger. A little intelligent debate is nothing, absolutely nothing.

  • You’re absolutely right – I am totally unaware of your life. That’s why the advice was not specifically aimed at you – that’s why I prefaced it with “General”.

    Now – to the specific: Why should people respect what they consider to be as daft an idea as homeopathy, scientology, anti-vaxism or flat-earthism?

    Not the people who hold those beliefs – they are due the respect that all living beings deserve – the beliefs themselves.

    I don’t understand why you want to be respected if you have a strong faith.

  • Why would you assume I have anti-Catholic or Episcopalian bias? I have a sister-in-law and she and her husband are very active Episcopalians. My husband and are Anglican Christians. When we talk about our faith and our the ministries of our respective parishes, we discuss what unifies us, not our differences. It’s uplifting to all of us. My husband was raised Roman Catholic and I have Roman Catholic relatives on both sides of my family. I define a Christian as someone who subscribes to the tenets of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds (and I suppose Asthanasian Creed). That’s an awfully big tent, and it should be. But how can anyone call him/herself a Christian if he/she does not believe in such basics as one baptism for the remission of sins, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His promise to come again?

  • Yes, it does. Thank you. I was simply interested in knowing the basis for your comments.

    Also, I would like to know how you define “Christian”.

  • I’ve never witnessed anything like that myself and I have been “going to church” all my life. Personally, I don’t think church should get into politics. I have friends at church with dif. POV, but we get along because it is not preached about.

  • Personally, I could easily censor obsenities, for example. I remember many years ago several students attacked the VP of the university for something he used to do. As I look back on it today, I see how foolish it was. Right or wrong, we were at that university knowing its policies. Anyone who didn’t like them was free to attend another university. I think Erin and the rest of you who are insulted by not being able to say what you want (free speech) will look back on this some day and scratch your head. Mark my words. It may make you feel important now, but some day….

  • 1. Why would you assume that I thought you had an anti-Catholic or anti-Episcopalian bias? You are reading into my words something that is not there.

    2. My experience in life has been that there are some people who hold the “standard” Xian beliefs, but who rarely talk of them; whereas, there are some folks who talk quite a bit about themselves as Christians who are full of hate towards others, e.g. Catholics, “liberals”, gay people, those who advocate gay marriage, etc.

    Also, in my experience, Catholics believe in the ideas you cited above.

  • So you want both sides of everything? No holds barred? Okay, climb inside the gut of a mass murderer for a while so you can learn exactly how s/he thinks and feels and is tortured by. If you withhold that, then that is censorship. For crying out loud. When and where does it stop? BTW, since you are at a Christian school (1) why go there instead of a state school? No one forced you to attend here. (2) Instead of hating everyone who disagrees with you and wanting to “expose” them, try forgiveness.

  • 1) All human beings are worthy of respect because they are created by a loving God, regardless of religion or lack of religion.
    2) No, religious students should not receive more respect than others, but they should not receive less either.
    3) Who decides what religious beliefs are irrelevant – atheists? It’s not your place, nor mine, to decide what religious beliefs are irrelevant? On a street I pass by several times a week, there is an Assembly of God church and a Hindu temple side by side. Bravo! That’s what religious freedom is all about. I live in a Midwestern metro area of about 1.7 million area. Probably most Christian denomination has a church here. There are mosques, synagogues, Hindu and Buddhist temples, New Age churches, humanist centers, spiritualist churches, and probably more. And that’s as is it should be. Only true cults, like the one in the Netflix documentary Wild, Wild, Country, the FLDS, and others where people cannot leave of their own free will cause problems.
    4) See answer to #1 above.
    5) They should, and probably most do. Respecting others’ religious beliefs is not the same thing as believing they are valid. Even telling others about one’sliefs (regardless of religion) is not necessarily disrespectful, if you back if they aren’t interested.
    6) See answer to #2 above.

  • Sorry. Wow. You’ve got a lot of stereotypes about Christians. I belong to the Anglican Church of North America. We believe marriage is between one marriage and one woman, as do I. But gay marriage is settled law and there are far more important issues facing our country than that. As for gays, what goes on in their bedrooms is between them and God, not them and me. I’ve got plenty of my own things in my life for God to deal with. Gays like straight people: some are great people, some so-so, some you wouldn’t trust to bring in your mail. Big deal. And I’m a lifelong centrist Democrat. Volunteer in church and community. Really dangerous person, huh.

  • Absolutely not, Floyd. Religious organizations avoid taxation by keeping out of politics. If they want to politic they should give up their tax exemption. That’s what the Johnson Amendment is all about. But Floyd seems not to understand or appreciate our constitutional principle of church-state separation that was/is intended to protect the religious liberty of all of us.

  • Most people love free media publicity for their favorite causes or wars. And that’s all right.

    But even in the secular world, the people you’re specifically warring against, have NO journalistic or ethical obligation to use their own media resources to help you (generic you, not you specifically), get more free publicity for your political / religious attacks.

    (Local or national papers, TV, radio, Net News, yes publish it — but LU, or other Christian colleges, churches, businesses — they certainly don’t owe free PR to Shane.)

    Also, there’s an issue about Christians warring with other Christians. I myself wouldn’t mind doing some media MMA or WWE fighting against Shane & Co, but that’s not Christ’s way. Far more Christ-like to de-escalate as much as possible. That is why (imo) Falwell scored 100% by saying “Let’s ignore him.”

  • Because we live in a free society. Why shouldn’t I want other religions (or non-religion) to be respected? Who wants a theocracy, for goodness sake?

    As for other beliefs, some are more benign than others, especially for adults. Homeopathy is goofy, but if a competent adult goes into it eyes wide open, that’s his or her own business. A close relative of mine follows holistic health practices that are probably a crock. But at least her primary care provider knows about them and she still sees her for checkups and when she knows she needs to. And she’s stopped badgering me about taking supplements instead of prescription drugs for a chronic health condition that requires lifelong meds. So we have a truce.

    Scientology is obviously a cult. No reputable religious organization charges ever-increasing outrageous fees for “religious counseling”. Passing the baskets or plates during sevices does not demand offerings, nor can religious organizations mandate tithes, although they can put undue pressure on congregants to donate beyond their means. But they can leave without fear of retribution of their religious organization, although not necessarily social pressure. Scientology can be cut down by denying its tax exemption. See how long it would last then.

    Vaccinations for children are a public health matter. Except for rare religious exemptions like the Amish, it is possible to space out vaccines in a way that would show beyond a shadow of a doubt that they do not cause the problems attributed to them.

    Moderation and common sense usually wins the day, not panic and desperation.

  • Well, you say “stereotypes”, I’d say I have a lot of real-world experience.

    As for gay marriage, ETC, I was trying to point out how some people who are ver6y loud and insistent about calling themselves “Christians” are full of hatred.

  • Not boosting the school by any means. Would never recommend anyone attend there. But why lie about a competent graduate who helped my husband and was accepted into a good grad program? If if knew a Liberty grad who was not competent at her/his profession, I’d report it here, too, believe me. She’s just the only one I’ve have known.

  • “Because we live in a free society. Why shouldn’t I want other religions (or non-religion) to be respected? Who wants a theocracy, for goodness sake?

    As for other beliefs, some are more benign than others, especially for adults.”

    I question quite how free any society is – or indeed, by the nature of society, can be. However

    If I respect something that harms human beings – as all religions do – I am guilty, if only by omission, of supporting that harm.

    I do not want a theocracy – I live in a country where the majority claim no religious affiliation yet religion, sanctioned by tradition and unjustified influence, divides and damages the majority and the children of the minority. As far as I’m concerned the right to practice one’s religion is absolute until it impinges on the rights of those who cannot, for whatever reason, give informed consent.

    I should respect a belief system that lies, that creates unjustified fear, that manipulates the state’s functions to benefit itself and preaches poverty whilst amassing huge wealth?

    Any concept (in this case religion) that disrespects decent people in order to maintain its power and wealth doesn’t, IMO, deserve respect from those it disrespects.

  • Anglicans were started by people who cannot stand the idea of gay people sitting next to them in the pew. Their main reason for starting and existing is the that they’re antigay. They call for gay people to be treated as second-class and told that their lives as gay people are not as valued as straights. No gay person with an ounce of dignity would darken the doors of the Anglicans in America. They align with African Anglicans who call for gay people to be rounded up, imprisoned and put to death.

  • We born-again Christians have to do something. Things are really going from bad to worse and nightmarish for Biblical Christianity. None of it has anything to do with the gospel of salvation through Jesus’ crucifixion, burial & resurrection. But everything to do with politics & power-mongering.

  • Is it safe to say that church hierarchy where you are has been rather pretty good to you and vice-versa? Because you tithe pretty good in exchange for authoritative roles within the close-knit fellowship? I’m right about that, aren’t I? You can’t possibly feel what our sister Erin Covey is feeling right now. Best just patronize the poor thing, hmm? WELL I DISAGREE, SISTER.

  • LOL! Its amazing how common “whataboutism” deflection became with the election of the Cheeto Skinned Caligula. 🙂

  • Oh lookee Lazy Aimless Scavenger is at it per her usual, yet again. 2 days have passed since publication of this article but she still has no original comment on it of her own to instigate or sustain or build on an ongoing discussion. Her only Eureka moment of inspirational value to the RNS readers is when she goes, O I know, I know, let me troll this Non-Atheist @ Atheism- or rather Religion-News Service with, uhm, what was that I thought off earlier in the john, oh yeah, this:

    “Stop that. It’s silly.”

    Then she upvoted her own comment, but of course, that goes without saying.

  • Let me guess. The Election 2016 highlight for you was when Kil… I mean Hillary called me & my loved ones, “The Deplorable”.

    That’s your measuring stick ever since.

  • Bdgrgrrl, I hope you will respond to my message, immediately below. A reply will help me increase my understanding of folks calling themselves Christians.

    Increasing understanding and destroying stereotypes *is* one of your goals and reasons for participating here, right?

  • My issue was she was too spineless and walked back the remark. She was more right then being willing to admit to.

    About half of the people who voted for Trump regretted the decision to support him. Those who remained have mearly intensified the amoral, corrupt, and utterly ridiculous rhetoric and actions.

  • What is interesting to me is that you demand free speech and that means you want to say as many bad things about people as you can find. Do you ever demand to say as many good things about people as you can find? There are a lot of good things going on in the world and on your campus. I never heard “free-speech” demanders mention good things. What a shame. There is more good in the world than bad, but you insist on crying out what is wrong instead of what is right. If you think that makes you important, it doesn’t. The world will just go on without you.

  • Why in the world did you all enroll in a Christian university if you hate it so much? No one twisted your arm. Why don’t you start your own university and call it, “We demand to spread smut about other people University.” Leave Liberty. It is giving you ulcers! Or do you just love to hate?

  • I don’t have them, says Oxford University Dictionary. Because, see, “delusion[s mean] idiosyncratic belief[s] or impression[s] maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.” I have God & Jesus whereas you’ve got Nobody & Nothing. I have Hope. You have Hopelessness.

  • Hello Katheryn, I’m not enrolled in Liberty University, nor any other Christian institution. I got my degrees at a secular university, where the student body would not put up with any attempt by the administration to censor the university student newspaper about any topic or issue, whether they liked the issue or not, because they were taught from early childhood that freedom of speech and freedom of the press is of primary importance. To support freedom of speech, press, and religion, we must support EVERYONE’S freedom, whether or not we agree with them.

  • I have never seen so much hatred spit out of the mouths of young people. Is this the direction our country is going? An old saying is, “If you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” You all are killing yourselves with your own hatred. Have you ever tried loving everyone?

  • You “have God & Jesus” despite being contradicted by reality and rational arguments, a.k.a. delusions.

    I wish you all the best in your ongoing battle with reality.

    Yours respectfully,
    A Logical Person

  • FILL IN THE BLANKS.

    (1) NoMoreBadTown’s HYPOTHESIS is as follows: “You [HpO] ‘have God & Jesus’ despite being contradicted by reality and rational arguments, a.k.a. delusions.”

    (2) NoMoreBadTown’s “RATIONAL ARGUMENTS” for her hypothesis are as follows: ____________________
    ____________________
    ____________________
    ____________________
    ____________________

    You have 24 hours. GO.

  • I’m not the one making any claim here, so the burden of proof does not fall to me.

    You made the claim.

    You “have God & Jesus.”

    Prove it.

    You have 24 hours. GO.

  • Sorry, but I no longer remember which message of mine I was referring to.

    However, here is an observation I’ve made over the past 20 years or more:

    there are some folks who identify themselves as “Christians”, and others who say “I am a Catholic” or “a presbyterian” or “a methodist” and so on. My observations have been that those who say “I am a Christian” have quite a different understanding of the teachings of Jesus than the others–and quite different behavior.

  • Are all of you critics Christians? If so, do this: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” This was written by Peter, a man who turned completely against Jesus and denied he even knew him. He was forgiven. If you feel betrayed, can you forgive as Jesus forgave Peter?

  • Oh, and if you critics are Christians, you might want to recall this one: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.” Paul said this. Do you believe it? Do you follow it?

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