Dustin Wahl wrote: ↑April 4th, 2021, 5:17 pm
Racenut wrote: ↑April 4th, 2021, 11:57 am
As I sit here on Easter morning, I am seriously addressing those on this thread who think Liberty needs a "culture change". With the glaring exception of Jr's moral downfall and his personal proclivity to state political views in a less than diplomatic way, what exactly do you want changed about the "Culture" at Liberty?
I appreciate this earnest post, and I think I can provide some clarity about why many of your fellow Christ-followers are praying and working for a change of culture at Liberty. The successes you speak of, which are real, do not tell the full story about Liberty. Too often, Liberty's leaders use Liberty's virtues to conceal its sins and its wealth to conceal its weaknesses. The sins and weaknesses are very real, and it is wrong to ignore them.
From the outside, I see a thriving, growing institution that is delivering more than even Jerry Sr could have imagined when he felt God encouraging him to engage in this vision. The programs and fields of endeavor have grown exponentially in the last 50 years, enabling Christians to enter any profession or career field as fully qualified, properly trained ambassadors for Christ. I see missionaries abroad, I see graduates in media, I see Churches planted and I see athletics performed with excellence and coaches speaking boldly on national TV about the emphasis and impact of Christ in the lives of young men and women.
One reason that I am sitting here on Easter morning, is that I have seen the dangers of infighting on God's people. I have seen leaders stumble, and I have seen over zealous boards of Elders and Deacons wax poetic for hours on end with their solutions to problems in the Church, only to see nothing accomplished, but the self aggrandizing of those who have only been given positions because no one else agreed to serve. Parishioners are many times no better as they put their pet "one issue" concerns over the health of the fellowship. I confess to adding to that chaos at times in my life, and at the age of 62, I pledge that I will strive to do better.
These are problems that have surfaced throughout the history of God's Church and yet He continues to accomplish great things in spite of us. One great miracle that He has performed in front of our very eyes is Liberty University. My hope is that we would pray for the leadership at LU and for every movement to be orchestrated by His perfect will. I pray that every success would be magnified in His light and that we would soften our hearts to His mission over ours.
So, what are the specific "Culture" changes, if any that need to take place, and how will they positively impact the University and His mission. I hope the discussion is tempered in grace and humility.
I hope that the inclination of many Christians to throw the baby out with the bath water is avoided in these troubled times, as I for one see Liberty and all the good things that are going on there as a true light in the darkness.
There are outstanding allegations that Becki Falwell sexually preyed on a Liberty student and that both Falwells regularly objectified and sexualized students for fun. The board has never addressed this. One board member is a pastor who covered up sexual abuse in his church and then lied about it in his memoir. The board has not addressed this, either. For several years, Falwell leveraged his power for selfish and pernicious ends, hurting countless employees. Professors, those most responsible for the academic and spiritual formation of students, often live in fear of having their contracts suddenly ended in the spring, when there is no time to find a new teaching job (a task made harder by the reputation Falwell inflicted on Liberty.)
Those students who read the news about Liberty (a sizable minority) often become deeply disillusioned in their latter years as students and their first years as alumni. Why has Liberty's leadership never acknowledged its sins and sought forgiveness -- something Christians are taught to do as children? Why were Liberty's rules enforced on some but not others? Why are some students fined and stripped of scholarships for having wine at a wedding, while Falwell is a known heavy drinker? Why was the swing dancing club banned from campus, while some of the students who hang out with Nasser and Falwell go to clubs and house parties on the weekend? Why are girls made to dress conservatively at the campus pool, while other girls participate in a school-sanctioned swimsuit contest onstage in the Center for Music and Worship? Why are students warned about infighting and told not to criticize their leaders, while their leaders fight bitterly amongst themselves and vengefully punish people who respectfully disagree? Why do Liberty's proponents constantly praise the material wealth and status and power of the school, while our faith tells us that these things mean nothing, and that in fact they can be quite dangerous to our souls?
These are just a few of the questions that lead many former Liberty students and employees to disillusionment. I know countless graduates who are struggling with their faith because of this. I know many more who struggle with severe depression. Here are the words of just one Liberty student who reached out to my organization last year:
"I wish I could transfer, but I'm so close to finishing that I worry it will only cost more money. As a Christian woman who has suffered from sexual assault, I am horrified at Falwell's behavior and commentary about sexual assault. . . I don't know what to do. My debt makes me stay but my morality is begging me to leave."
Here is another (and I hear this a lot):
"I can't listen to worship music anymore."
So with all this said, here are two of the specific culture changes that my group, Save71, is calling for. First, Liberty's board, executive leadership, and senior leadership should apologize for and acknowledge their sins. Secondly, there should be a genuine attempt to make amends for them and root them out. I think those are pretty reasonable changes, but neither has happened!
Liberty has many wonderful qualities, but also struggles with terrible spiritual abuse. We need to acknowledge both, and it's vital to deal with the abuse first.
Luke 11:39-40: "Then the Lord said to him, 'Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?'"
Wish I had read this before my post in the "culture change" thread. This addresses the REAL culture problem. It is one of spiritual bankruptcy by the leadership. Nothing more, nothing less. Certainly not some of the static created elsewhere on this message board, that I have foolishly responded to.
I love the university, I do not want to be one of the negative Nancy's that always hover right above most Christain skool campuses, and blame it for their personal problems.
However I believe we are at a crossroads of remaining a distinctively Christian school or becoming the next Baylor, TCU, etc. Praying for the humble repentance and spiritual restoration of the university leaders and of those to come.