Peter Galuszka writes in the Washington Post…
“For a while it had seemed Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., had finally turned a corner. The conservative, private Christian school had recently included socialist Bernie Sanders among speakers at a weekly convocation. The Democratic presidential contender was received politely.
The school was founded by the late political firebrand Rev. Jerry Falwell, former spokesman for “The Moral Majority” of right-wing Christians back in the 1980s.
It had been growing quickly and gaining respectability, moving far from its hardscrabble background as a a collection of trailers near Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church.
But Jerry Falwell Jr., who succeeded his father as school leader, came out with a bizarre and dangerous statement at another convocation on Dec. 5. Referring to the tragic shootings in San Bernardino, he told students that they should obtain concealed-carry permits, buy handguns and stand ready to repress alien, non-Christian attackers. The school would offer free firearms instruction.
“If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell said.
His racist and bigoted comments came just days before leading Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump urged that U.S. borders be sealed for people of the Muslim faith. He drew international rebukes for his outlandish idea.
But then, Liberty has a curious history. It is rated by Young Americans for Freedom as being in the top 10 most conservative colleges. Despite its remarkable growth, it ranks only as No. 80 among regional schools in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fewer than half of its students, which number 13,800 on campus and 100,000 online, actually graduate.
Daddy Falwell was also known for outrageous comments that got him a lot of attention when he was a televangelist thumping for cash donations. His most astonishing was his 1999 attack on the “Teletubbies,” a BBC-TV children’s television show aimed at toddlers. According to Falwell, Tinky Winky, a purple-colored creature who has an antenna on his head and carries a handbag, was an attempt to make children homosexual.
“As a Christian, I feel that role-modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children,” he said. His clues: Purple is a “gay” color, and the triangular antenna on Tinky Winky resembles a symbol of the gay culture. The other characters are Tinky Winky’s friends “Laa-Laa,” “Dipsy” and “Po,” but knowledgeable observers argue there’s really not much difference among the four.
Falwell was closer to the mark when he argued that the TV show South Park was “vile and impudent.”
This might seem amusing except that the United States seems to be going through one of the worst periods of anti-intellectualism, xenophobia and race-based hatred in its history. Falwell Jr. has certainly tapped that venomous strain with his awful remarks.”