ABOVE: Jack Jenkins, national reporter for the Religion News Service appeared on the Tuesday edition of CBN News' Faith Nation to talk about Falwell's apology. Faith Nation is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel. For a programming schedule, click here.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. apologized Monday for a tweet that upset African American members of the Liberty community. The tweet had been aimed at Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, but it included a racist photo from Northam's medical school yearbook page decades ago.
"After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor's racist past I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point," he tweeted Monday.
After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor's racist past (Part 1/3)
— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) June 8, 2020
"Based on our long relationships, they uniformly understood this was not my intent, but because it was the result," Falwell continued, "I have deleted the tweet and apologize for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community."
I have deleted the tweet and apologize for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community. (Part 3/3)
— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) June 8, 2020
A group of African-American alumni of Liberty University called "LU Alumni for Biblical Diversity" called out Falwell earlier this month for years of behavior they call "infantile" and "incendiary" topped off by his tweet which was seen by many as racially insensitive and not Christ-like.
The group - made up of African-American pastors, ministry leaders, and former athletes who graduated from the university - was upset about his May 27th tweet complaining about Northam's (D) mandate that citizens wear masks to combat the coronavirus.
Falwell tweeted if he's ordered to wear one he'll only comply if a "picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!" referring to a picture on the governor's medical school yearbook page that shows one student in blackface embracing another wearing a KKK hood and robe.
The shocking photo surfaced in early 2019. After first apologizing for appearing in blackface, Northam recanted saying he couldn't remember doing it and suggested the photo was printed under his name by mistake.
I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!#VEXIT#EndLockdownNow pic.twitter.com/twu7r4rWhd
— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) May 27, 2020
Falwell's tweet garnered more than 6,000 comments including one from Dan Smith who said, "All people of color should reconsider their enrollment at Liberty University immediately."
All people of color should reconsider their enrollment at @LibertyU, immediately.
— Dan Smith (@dsmithjr85) May 28, 2020
Megan McNinch responded, "As a student at Liberty University Online I find this appalling! Someone else's bad decision in the past does not condone YOUR bad decision in the present. Statements like this make me embarrassed to be a student here."
As a student at @libertyuonline I find this appalling! Someone else's bad decision in the past does not condone YOUR bad decision in the present. Statements like this make me embarrassed to be a student here. Philippians 3:13-14, Ephesians 4:31-32, Matthew 7:1-5
— Megan McNinch (@McNinchie) May 27, 2020
"While your tweet may have been in-jest about Virginia's Governor, it made light of our nation's painful history of slavery and racism. It is what we're called to reject as followers of Christ - 'Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place...'" wrote the group of black alumni in the petition, quoting Ephesians 5:4.
"The reckless nature of this tweet is a microcosm of the past several years of divisive rhetoric that does not display the kind of Christian witness that the Gospel demands of us, nor does it represent the Christlike Leadership that Liberty University deserves. It has brought further disgrace to Jesus Christ and Liberty University," the petition states, which has garnered more than 37,000 signatures.
Falwell is a staunch supporter and ally of President Trump. The group says his tweets indicate he cares more about politics than Jesus Christ.
"It has become obvious to many that your heart is in politics more than Christian academia or ministry, so we would encourage you to leave the position of school president and pursue politics full-time," they write.
Signers of the petition say they can no longer in good faith encourage the students who worship at their churches and in their communities to attend LU or accept athletic scholarships. The alumni also say they'll stop making financial donations to the school.
"We ask you to withdraw your racist tweet immediately and make a public apology. If you decide to stay at Liberty, this coalition stands ready to meet with you in order to provide counsel on ways for LU to best move forward in these racially-charged and divisive times."
They say their time at the university deeply impacted them and add, "Our ultimate goal is for Jesus to be glorified in all that we say and do. We pray that is your desire as well."
STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE FREE CBN NEWS APP!
Click Here Get the App with Special Alerts on Breaking News and Live Events!