Will Mr. Falwell Go to Washington?

Mar 13, 2017

In a Jan. 31, 2016 file photo, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, smiles as he listens to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, at a rally, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Credit Associated Press

The leader of Lynchburg-based Liberty University seems increasingly interested in politics, and now it appears Mr. Falwell may be going to Washington. 

Jerry Fallwell, Jr. was an early supporter of Donald Trump.  Before the candidate spoke to students at Liberty University the school’s president told them.

“In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of helping and loving others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.  My father was criticized in the early 1980’s for supporting Ronald Reagan, because Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor who had been divorced and remarried, and Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher.  My father proudly replied that we are all sinners, every one of us, and the talents and experience required to lead a nation might not always line up with those needed to run a church of a congregation.”

And Falwell said his father had much in common with candidate Trump.

“Like Mr. Trump, Dad would speak his mind.  He would make statements that were politically incorrect.  He even had a billboard at the entrance to this campus for years that rea, “Liberty University, Politically  Incorrect since 1971.”

Now, Trump may be preparing to reward long-time loyalty.  He has quietly appointed Falwell to head a committee that will review regulations governing higher education and make recommendations for change.  Goldie Blumenstyk has been writing about the appointment for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“The White House announced that there would be these task forces actually assigned to all the different agencies in the government where there would be outsiders looking at regulations.  It appears that’s the task force that Jerry Falwell will be heading up for the Department of Education.”

Falwell told the Chronicle that he’s already aware of problems with the way the feds oversee some aspects of college life.

“He’s been concerned about some of the ways that the department has been investigating sexual assault allegations.  There are some new rules that the education department put through that relate to when students have been defrauded by their colleges, and how can they recover their student loans in those cases.”

Of course he’s not alone on those issues.  Plenty of university presidents might support a change, but they would likely part ways on another subject.

“He is a strong proponent of concealed carry on campus.  He carries his own gun on campus.  I think most college presidents, however, oppose the idea of guns on campus and oppose the notion of concealed carry on campus.”

And Falwell may want to look at regulations governing education online.  Unlike most schools, Liberty’s Internet programs dwarf what it’s doing on campus. 

Goldie Blumenstyk says it’s unclear what the exact mission of the task force will be or what direction it may take, since the White House has yet to publicly name others who will serve with Falwell.  I’m Sandy Hausman.