1989 bond issue

In 1989, Liberty University applied for $60 million in low interest bonds through the Lynchburg Industrial Development Authority. After the required public hearing period the bond issue was voted upon by the IDA and approved. Shortly thereafter litigation was brought against the IDA and Liberty University by Americans United (AU) and a decision (Habel vs. Lynchburg Industrial Development Authority) was handed down in 1991 denying Liberty the bond issuance. It was ruled that Liberty was too pervasively religious and therefore was not eligible for the bonds.

This case dealt a severe financial blow to the university which was unable to fund its construction projects needed to sustain its rapid growth. A subsequent case a few years later involving Regent University was decided in a similar manner, but was later overturned. The Virginia Supreme Court reviewed the case and based its decision on a more recent US Supreme Court ruling concerning issues of Separation and Sectarianism. Since then, Regent has received approval for bond funding with the stipulation that it may not fund the Divinity School.

1994 debt buy-out

Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and the Washington Times, and his wife Hak Ja Han helped to financially stabilize the university through two of his organizations: News World Communications (an international media firm which publishes the Washington Times and other news media), which provided a $400,000 loan to the university at 6% interest; and the Women's Federation for World Peace, which indirectly contributed $3.5 million toward the school's debt.[1] Liberty University spokesman Mark DeMoss said the school was not aware of News World's connection to Moon when it obtained the loan through a broker. "I'm not going to be pious and tell you we would have turned it down," DeMoss said. "Because it was a business transaction, we probably would have moved forward even if Falwell or somebody in the organization knew who News World Communications was."[1] Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell stated that the source of the funds does not influence his ministry: "If the American Atheists Society or Saddam Hussein himself ever sent an unrestricted gift to any of my ministries, be assured I will operate on Billy Sunday's philosophy: The Devil's had it long enough, and quickly cash the check."[2]

Biology and fossils

Liberty University teaches young Earth creationism as an explanation for the appearance of life on earth. The university works with young Earth creationist organizations including Answers in Genesis.[3][4][5][6] In biology classes students are taught both creationism and evolution and that creationism offers a better explanation of biological diversity than evolution.[7][8] In October, 2006 the university published an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education in an attempt to recruit staff to its biology department. The advertisement stated that the university was "seeking faculty who can demonstrate a personal faith commitment to its evangelical Christian purpose" and specified that "compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy [is] required."[9]

In the same month, prominent biologist Richard Dawkins was quoted saying the following about Liberty University; "If it's really true that the museum at Liberty University has dinosaur fossils which are labeled as being 3,000 years old, then that is an educational disgrace. It is debauching the whole idea of a university, and I would strongly encourage any members of Liberty University who may be here, to leave and go to a proper university." In December, 1991 Creation reported, Arlton C. Murray "excavated a dinosaur for Liberty University’s museum", which proclaimed "this dinosaur was the first of its kind in any creationist museum."[10]

Political clubs

On May 15, 2009, vice president of student affairs Mark Hine sent an e-mail to the president of LU's College Democrats, Brian Diaz, revoking the university's recognition of the club. "The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine," Hine's e-mail stated, citing the party's positions on abortion and federal funding thereof, same-sex marriage, hate crimes, LGBT rights, and socialism as justification for the dissolution. While the club can still meet on campus, it cannot use the university's name or reserve university facilities.[11]

At a meeting with administration officials, the group was asked to apologize publicly for statements they had made to the media about this controversy. Diaz said he was baffled by the administration's decision, saying, "I want to be able to share the love of Christ, but I guess I can't do that on campus because I'm a Democrat as well."[12]

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic ex-governor Tim Kaine and 2009 Democratic gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds called on the college to rescind the ban.[13][14] Then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell stated that he "personally disagrees" with Liberty's decision, but that because it is a private school, its leaders can make their own decisions.[13]

Liberty University President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.,[15] subsequently stated that the university had not banned Democrats from campus nor had the club been banned from meeting and that neither the university nor its officials said that a person cannot be both a Christian and a Democrat.[16] On May 28, 2009, members of the club met with LU administration members again, and Falwell stated that he was "optimistic that if the university can work directly with the students that a compromise can be reached.'[17] Hine said that while the email was not clear, he did explain to the College Democrats leadership at the time he sent the email that the group could continue to meet in common areas on campus.[18]

Liberty's decision led some to question the university's tax-exempt status, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, asking for a review of the university's tax status. Liberty University in turn filed a complaint with the IRS regarding the tax-exempt status of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.[19][20][21]

In late June 2009, Liberty University announced a new policy dealing with all political clubs on campus. The new policy removed official recognition from all political clubs on campus, relegating them to unofficial status. President Falwell said the previously suspended College Democrats "wouldn’t have to do anything" to be recognized under the new policy. Along with other stipulations, the policy allows unofficial clubs to use the university's name, but they will not receive any funding from the university.[22] In response, Kaine said Liberty University solved the controversy "perfectly."[23]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fisher, Marc (November 23, 1997). "A Church in Flux Is Flush With Cash". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-14.  "Also in 1995, the Women's Federation made another donation that illustrates how Moon supports fellow conservatives. It gave a $3.5 million grant to the Christian Heritage Foundation, which later bought a large portion of Liberty University's debt, rescuing the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Lynchburg, Va., religious school from the brink of bankruptcy."
  2. Kennedy, John (February 9, 1998). "Finance: Moon-Related Funds Filter to Evangelicals". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2007-10-30.  "$3.5 MILLION GIFT: In November, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), which is headed by Moon's wife, contributed $3.5 million to Christian Heritage Foundation (CHF) of Virginia for "educational purposes" in 1995."
  3. Liberty University - Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved on 7 January 2009.
  4. Ham, Ken (31 July 2007). Liberty University scholarship awarded to AiG research paper winner. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved on 7 January 2009./
  5. Ham, Ken (14 May 2006). Graduation day at Liberty University. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved on 7 January 2009.
  6. Liberty University and Answers in Genesis To Co-Sponsor 2005 Creation Mega Conference. Liberty University (8 July 2005). Retrieved on 7 January 2009.
  7. Desrets, Christa (14 February 2009). Liberty University disputing evolution. The News & Advance. Retrieved on 10 June 2009.
  8. Hendrix, Steve (2009-03-11). "Creationist Students Take Trip to Evolution Headquarters: The Smithsonian". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  9. Liberty University is looking for Biology Professors. (6 November 2006). Retrieved on 10 June 2009.
  10. Doolan, Robert (December 1991). "The fossils shout creation". Answers in Genesis/Creation magazine. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  11. Reed, Ray (2009-05-21). LU pulls plug on Democratic club. Retrieved on 2009-05-21.
  12. Skalka, Jennifer. McAuliffe Jumps Into Liberty U/Young Dems Battle, National Journal, Hotline OnCall, May 22, 2009
  13. 13.0 13.1 Kumar, Anita (May 23, 2009). "Liberty U. Drops Democratic Club". Washington Post: p. B1. 
  14. Reed, Ray. "Kaine calls on LU to reconsider Democratic club ban." ''Lynchburg News-Advance'', May 22, 2009. (2009-05-22). Retrieved on 2011-09-11.
  16. Falwell, Jerry (2009-05-24). Media's misrepresentation of club controversy. Liberty University.
  17. LU officials meet with College Democrats. Liberty University (2009-05-28).
  18. UPDATE: Liberty University Democratic club working to regain status. News & Advance (2009-05-27).
  19. Questioning Liberty University's Tax-Exempt Status.
  20. Liberty U Drops Recognition of Democratic Club; Falwell Files Complaint Against AU. OMB Watch (06/01/09).
  22. Liberty U. implements new club policy June 22, 2009. Retrieved on 2011-09-11.
  23. "Kaine: Liberty solved club controversy 'perfectly'". The News & Advance. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Controversy surrounding Liberty, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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