Fundamentalist Football: Liberty University `Champions' Have A Game Plan To Run Your Life
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 01:02:58 PM EST

I'm not really a fan of professional or college sports and don't normally look at the Sports page of the newspaper. But a recent New York Times piece about Liberty University's football program did catch my eye.

The Lynchburg, Va.-based university founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell has an ambitious agenda. As The Times put it, "[T]he plan is for college football - big-time,  always-on-television college football - to do for evangelical Christians in the 21st century what Notre Dame football did for Roman Catholics in the 20th."

These days, Liberty U. is run by Jerry Falwell Jr. Like his father, the younger Falwell tends to see everything through a religio-political lens - and, of course, he is very hostile to church-state separation and his politics are very far to the right.

"We think there would be a vast, committed fan base of conservative, evangelical Christians around the country and maybe even folks who are conservative politically who would rally behind Liberty football," Falwell said, "They would identify with our philosophy."

Needless to say, Liberty faces significant hurdles in its quest to join the upper ranks of college football. Think about the teams that dominate in Division I-A: Ohio State, the University of Florida, Louisiana State University, University of Southern California, the University of Alabama, etc. Liberty's just not in the same league.

And, as the article points out, Liberty, with its strict fundamentalist-oriented code governing student life and behavior, might have difficulty recruiting top high school players.

But Liberty has defied expectations before. Many of us are surprised that the school even still exists. Back in the 1990s, it was struggling under so much debt that some observers thought it was just a matter of time before the whole shebang collapsed. Ironically, only a generous infusion of cash from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his controversial Unification Church saved the school.

You may not know it, but you're also helping prop up Liberty. The university, journalist Bill Berkowitz has reported, receives "massive government aid."

Liberty now has 12,000 students living on campus and is expanding to accommodate 8,000 more. An additional 82,000 students study there online.

As The Times reported, "Liberty's net assets have ballooned by more than $900 million in the last five years. The once sleepy Liberty campus, which used to be no more than a few nondescript structures and a parking lot, has been transformed with a multitude of technologically advanced brick buildings in the Jeffersonian architectural style. Huddled against the foothills outside Lynchburg's historic downtown, Liberty has a 500,000-square-foot learning center with a new 170,000-square-foot library under construction. An observatory will open in the spring next to the equestrian center.... There is an expanding law school, and a medical school is scheduled to open in 2014."

That law school, I should point out, is led by Mat Staver, a longtime Religious Right attorney who has dedicated his life to undoing the handiwork of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other advocates of church-state separation. Staver is no fan of Americans United and once opined that we are "out to literally destroy America."

Religious groups, of course, have the right to open, own and operate schools. When the primary goal of these institutions is to spread religious doctrine, I think the people who believe in that faith should pay 100 percent of the bill. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court long ago opened the door for religiously affiliated colleges to get taxpayer aid, and now most of them are on the dole.

Liberty's growth should alarm advocates of church-state separation. The university has become a major base of operations for opponents of the church-state wall. Liberty says its main goal is to promote "champions for Christ." The elder Falwell may be gone, but his radical agenda lives on through these "champions," who were given marching orders to infiltrate public education, the legal profession, the political world and other power centers of our national life.

Falwell's "champions" have a vision of a "Christian America" that most Americans don't share. It's based on their exceedingly narrow interpretation of Christianity and would exclude millions of Americans who are atheists, gay, liberal Christians, non-Christians, political progressives and so on. The Liberty crowd says it wants government to be faith friendly. What they don't tell you is that under their scheme, only a certain faith (theirs) would be favored.  

The school has friends in high places. When political figures like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and others want to show the Religious Right some love, increasingly they head straight to Lynchburg.

It behooves all of us to keep an eye on the growing fundamentalist empire in Lynchburg. Its "champions" want to run our lives, and they'll use any means at their disposal to do that - even a football team.




Display:
When the political conservatives with strong fundamentalist ties (as so many of them do nowadays) talk about how important it is to cut the federal budget, do any of them ever offer to cut aid to schools such as Liberty?  It seems that they simply want MORE government money diverted to schools that promote religion (as long as it is their religion).  So -- do any of them see a conflict here?  Or do they figure that, as long as they are syphoning money away from "secular" schools, it's okay?

by coralsea on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 12:30:11 AM EST

Lots of questions here: Will they run anything newer than the single wing? Forward passing allowed, or just backwards? How will they avoid paying royalties to Tim Tebow? What can they do at their stadium to top Touchdown Jesus? Will the team have any strengths besides fundamentals and execution? Will celebratory butt-slapping be allowed? Kicked off team if caught holding? Cheerleaders? Cheerleader uniforms? Will they win a National Championship before the Rapture? Too bad Dana X Bible is not available to coach!

by jwarner on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 11:31:17 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
One under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.The proposal put forth by the......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the cities' mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the city's mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Houston's I Stand Sunday
In response to Houston's gay mayor's solicitation of church sermons, on Nov. 2, 2014, Houston Texas will host an I Stand Sunday.  The event,......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Real Religious Liberty is Not Oppression
This is a reposting of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation -- FC Real Religious Liberty is not Oppression FREDERICK CLARKSON Senior......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Houston Mayor Ignites Fervor of Religious Right
The best take on Houston Mayor Annise Parker vs. the churches in her city is the story written by Marv Knox in the Baptist......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
The Christian Right's Voter Mobilization Strategy for 2014
My latest post at Political Research Associates is about how this weekend's Values Voter Summit fits into the Christian Right's wider electoral strategy for......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)

Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.