Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, is taking an “indefinite leave of absence” from the Christian college following intense backlash after sharing a questionable photo with a young woman.
The university released a statement Friday revealing the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees met and “requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr., take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University.”
Falwell, whose father founded the Christian university in 1971, agreed and will step aside “immediately.”
Liberty Univeristy President Jerry Falwell Jr. is taking an indefinite leave of absence starting immediately. pic.twitter.com/7f6oZMCgIj
— Richard Chumney (@RichChumney) August 7, 2020
The photo in question appeared to be posted to Falwell’s personal Instagram account, though it has since been deleted.
In the picture, Falwell could be seen with his pants partially unzipped with his arm around a young woman whom he later identified to be his wife Becki’s assistant who also had her shorts partially opened.
The controversial university leader wrote in the caption that the presumably alcoholic beverage in his hand was actually “a prop” and was just “black water.”
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) August 7, 2020
He said the photo was “just in good fun.” Others, though, pointed out that, had a student posted a similar photograph, he or she could face fines and possible expulsion from the Christian university.
The decision by Liberty comes on the heels of comments from Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who called for Falwell’s resignation after he shared the photo. Walker, a former Baptist pastor who used to teach at Liberty and serves as an adviser to the college, described Falwell’s recent behavior as “appalling.”
“This pattern of behavior has become troubling,” Walker said during an appearance Friday afternoon on CNN, suggesting Falwell take an indefinite leave of absence from the evangelical school.
GOP Rep. Mark Walker is calling for Jerry Falwell Jr. to step down as president of Liberty University after posting what he calls an “appalling” photo. pic.twitter.com/6xAFM7mSIo
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 7, 2020
Falwell, for his part, said during a radio interview Wednesday that he has “apologized to everybody” and has “promised” he’s “gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Pastors Chris Williamson, Eric Carroll, and Maina Mwaura, the organizers of the June 1, 2020 letter to Liberty President Jerry Falwell signed by 35 African-American pastors, ministry leaders, and former athletes who graduated from Liberty University, have issued the following statement on Jerry Falwell taking leave of absence:
"We believe the Board of Trustees made the right decision in asking Mr. Falwell to take a leave of absence, and we are praying for him, his immediate family, and our entire Liberty family during this season. First and foremost, it is our desire that Mr. Falwell would experience healing and restoration that only God can give. Liberty is a special place, and the God that we serve is a powerful God to lead the school into its next season. Liberty University deeply impacted us as students and we hope that its leadership can return to a focus of training 'young champions for Christ' with Biblical conviction for the Gospel and justice."
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