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Falwell Responds to Instagram Photos

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. spoke to a Lynchburg, Va., radio station about Instagram photos that sparked controversy earlier this week.

Falwell posted a photo of himself with a woman on his yacht, both had their shirts hiked up and their pants unzipped, as reported by Julie Roys. The photo came with the caption, “Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s only black water in my glass.” Falwell later deleted the photo.

Falwell told radio station WLNI, in Liberty University’s hometown, that the woman in the photo is his wife’s assistant. “It was weird. She’s pregnant, and she couldn’t get her pants up. I had a pair of jeans on that I haven’t worn in a long time, so I couldn’t get mine zipped either. So I just put my belly out like hers,” he said in the brief, minute-long interview.

“I should never have put it up and embarrassed her,” he said. “I’ve apologized to everybody. I promised my kids I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out.”

A video of the yacht party also circulated the Internet, featuring Falwell and others at a Trailer Park Boys themed party. The video shows some drinking what looks like wine and alcohol, others with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, another raising his middle finger at the camera, and women in midriff shirts.

“Whatever, whatever,” Falwell said when asked about the video. “It was a costume party. We were on vacation. Long story short, it was just in good fun. That’s it.”

Still, others have questioned the judgment of the president of one of the largest Christian universities in the nation for posing in photos that could be construed as compromising.  They’re saying it’s hypocritical to minimize actions that his students would be punished for.

Liberty students are required to sign the “Liberty Way,” committing to act within certain guidelines, which include restrictions on alcohol, drugs, dress code requirements, and others. Students can be fined or even dismissed for violating the guidelines. Students are required to act within the guidelines of the Liberty Way even when off campus and on breaks.

A growing chorus is calling for Falwell’s resignation.  On Thursday, Aug. 6, U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.), tweeted, “Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling.  As a Music Faculty Advisory Board Member and former instructor [at Liberty University], I’m convinced Falwell should step down.”

Everett Piper is the retired president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  He often aligns with Falwell on matters of politics and educational policy.  However, after reading Falwell’s explanation of the Instagram photos, he posted on Facebook, “Only five words suffice:  This man should be fired.”  Piper explained:  “As a university president, had I ever done anything remotely close to this I would have so diminished the dignity of my position that my board’s only recourse would have been to demand my immediate resignation. That is of course if I wasn’t man enough to offer it before asked.”

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Christina Darnell

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.