Jerry Falwell, Jr. is proof that sometimes the apple falls far from the tree, as revealed in a recent Vanity Fair article. The article suggests he has his daddy’s name, but not his nature. He has the Falwell culture but not the Falwell character.
The apple that fell far from the tree was obviously rotten.
If Falwell had any character or self-respect or familial affection, or concern for the cause of Christ, he would climb into a deep Virginia cave and hide therein until his demise. I don’t expect Jerry to do so since he seems to think he is relevant and important. No one cares what Jerry says except the scandal sheets who delight in salacious information, especially if critical of Christians. By Jerry’s vile lifestyle, he has provided many pages of poison that intensified hatred of anything Christian.
It seems without debate that Jerry did a sterling job taking control of Liberty University following his father’s death. But for him to suggest he qualifies as the reason Liberty University is one of the largest universities in the world is excessive and embarrassing crowing.
Junior only built upon a deep, solid foundation constructed of sweat, blood, tears, prayers, energy, and total commitment of his father. Without Dr. Falwell, Junior would be known as Jerry, who?
Liberty was originally called Lynchburg Baptist College, which began in 1971 and changed its name to Liberty Baptist College in 1977 and Liberty University in 1985. Liberty was founded by Dr. Falwell, with help from Dr. Elmer Towns and one of my oldest friends, Dr. Harold Willmington, who came in 1972. Dr. Towns and Dr. Willmington provided the academic respectability that Jerry did not possess since he only possessed an undergraduate degree from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.
While Dr. Falwell lacked academic qualifications, he easily surpassed ivy league university presidents in his ability, wit, knowledge, memory, perseverance, commitment, and genuine love for students. He was one of the most gracious, genuine, as well as one of the greatest men I ever met.
And I often disagreed with him.
Following Falwell’s death in 2007, Liberty experienced spectacular growth and stability under leadership from Jerry Junior. Liberty now boasts over 700 programs from the certificate to the doctoral level ranging from medicine, biology, chemistry, and engineering to design, music, religion, law, and more.
Liberty has more than a billion-dollar endowment fund, gross assets of over 2 billion dollars, an impressive campus with 15,000 students, and a total of 100,000 students when online students are counted. Both the university and church are totally out of debt following payment of a 34-million-dollar life insurance policy on Dr. Falwell.
Liberty’s fiscal stability is impressive even for the secular world and shocking in that it was begun in a small southern city by an independent Baptist pastor with no educational credentials.
The Vanity Fair article reveals a dispute in September 2020, when Jerry and Franklin Graham argued over who should get credit for Liberty’s success. Jerry said, “My dad built the foundation, but I built the house.” Franklin furiously said, “You didn’t build it!” Well, to put this in perspective, if the bull had not done his job, the farmer would not have any calves to count. Jerry Junior did an impressive job continuing the building on his dad’s foundation. But Junior did not possess the charisma, gravitas, discipline, and reputation to build their Christian elementary school, let alone a university, by his own effort.
Junior has a right to crow but not as the cock of the walk. He can share his daddy’s name and sit in the president’s chair, but he never filled his shoes. But he has often disgraced his name.
In the article, the younger Falwell suggests his aberrant lifestyle was not of his choosing, and it was almost forced on him, saying, “It’s almost like I didn’t have a choice.” But that has been the plea or reason for evil behavior since the beginning of time.
Everyone has a choice, and many of Junior’s were wrong.
He said, “Because of my last name, people think I’m a religious person. But I’m not. My goal was to make them realize I was not my dad.” Wow, what a confession. His goal was not to honor Christ, obey Bible commands, seek to win the world for Christ, or even to make the world a little better but to disassociate himself from the one who gave him life!
What a senseless, ungrateful, despicable jerk.
Furthermore, I will not consider any complaints from religious snowflakes about my lack of love for a brother in Christ, and I’m not sure that is possible with Junior. Even if he is a Christian, it is a sign of love to speak the truth, and the truth is—Jerry Falwell is a jerk. I’m sorry if it offends Jerry and his supporters, but he and his supporters know he is a jerk.
He said his father was not a hardline Fundamentalist at home and did not force him to attend church. But that is not true, according to my sources at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Dr. Falwell allegedly permitted Junior to own rock records and even tolerated moderate drinking. While the rock records accusation cannot be supported or denied, awareness of his drinking became known only when he was in law school at the University of Virginia.
Jerry Jr. did not qualify as president of any Christian college. My longtime friends on Liberty’s Board of Trustees, including the current president Dr. Jerry Prevo and board chairman, Dr. Tim Lee, failed when they turned the university over to him. Of course, they can plead they were doing as Dr. Falwell instructed them to do. However, I believe the control of a not-for-profit organization cannot be handed over to anyone as one might award a prize bull.
One can assume a prize bull will get the job done, but a person with the “right” ancestry should still be suspect as to character, competence, and calling before being hired for a high position.
Jerry Junior said his brother Jonathan became his mother’s favorite son. If so, that was a mistake, but with Jerry’s corrupt record of adultery, drunkenness, lying, stupid behavior, and generally vile lifestyle, I wouldn’t believe him if he swore on a stack of original 1611 KJV Bibles. Besides, my sources at the church and university tell me that Jonathan managed to have a grandchild of Jerry Sr. at their home each night following Jerry’s death. Jonathan’s thoughtfulness and kindness at such a time would endear himself to his mother.
The article drags Jerry Sr. and his family through the slime pits, and it must be remembered that Jerry Jr. has not repudiated the article, so an assumption of misquotes is not supported. The following savaging of the Falwell family is one of the most despicable, disgraceful, and dishonest attacks upon Dr. Falwell and his wife.
The Vanity Fair article reveals that Jerry Junior said his father’s much traveling provided a reprieve from an oppressive marriage. “My dad wanted to travel the world as an escape,” Jerry said. He recalled that his mother’s provincial worldview grated on his father. “She wanted to live a small-town preacher’s life. She didn’t let him mess around.” Divorce was out of the question, according to the article.
How silly. Folks at Thomas Road Baptist Church laugh at such ravings. Note the explosive words, reprieve, oppressive, escape, grated, mess around, and divorce. I am convinced either Jerry Junior or Vanity Fair (or both) was determined to deny, distort, and destroy the memory of Jerry Falwell.
The article continued, “According to Jerry, his dad found ways to take the edge off at home, even though Macel never allowed alcohol in the house. ‘Sometimes, he would drink a whole bottle of Nyquil. He called it Baptist wine,’ he remembered. Jerry [Junior] grew up to learn that he too could have a private life that didn’t align with his public persona.”
That is not the Jerry Falwell I knew from the mid-1960s to his death, nor is that reflected in the hundreds of sermons preached on national television. And the thought of Jerry drinking a bottle of Nyquil because Macel would not permit him to drink wine is so ludicrous I even laughed when I read the stupid statement.
Jerry Junior is not only a jerk but a stupid double jerk. However, God still loves him, and I am trying.
(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives who ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. Boys authored 20 books, the most recent, Reflections of a Lifetime Fundamentalist: No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets! The eBook is available at Amazon.com for $4.99. Other titles at www.cstnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at Don Boys, Ph.D., and visit his blog. Send a request to DBoysphd@aol.com for a free subscription to his articles and click here to support his work with a donation.)