(CNS News)—Some alumni from the University of Lynchburg are calling for the removal of Pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr.’s name from one of the school’s dormitories -- which Falwell’s Liberty University donated money to build – because of allegedly “offensive” statements made by the late pastor nearly 20 years ago.
Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. (1933-2007) was a Southern Baptist preacher and a conservative activist. Nearly all of his so-called controversial comments over the years were based on biblical teachings and Christian morality. Critics were often appalled by Falwell’s condemnation of homosexuality and his defense of traditional marriage and the family. He founded Liberty University in 1971.
A petition, started by University of Lynchburg alumnus Peter Lynch, calls for removing Falwell’s name from a dormitory due to allegedly “offensive” statements he made before he passed away in 2007, reported The Hill.
“His values do not align with what the University of Lynchburg says they want to be,” said alumnus Jonathan Harris, as reported by The News & Advance. “His rhetoric represented that of racism, bigotry, placism and sexism until the last day.”
The petition states, “Over the past several years Liberty [University] has encroached on the decision making process of the University of Lynchburg. Examples of this include but are not limited to the following: 1. A terrace has been named for Jerry Falwell Sr.; 2. The University of Lynchburg has accepted gifts and money from Liberty University valued at 1 million dollars; 3. Chaplins and professors may have been silenced on campus so as to appease Liberty; and 4. University of Lynchburg Students have been housed in Liberty dorms and teams have shared facilities.”
The petition then calls for, among other things, removing the “Falwell name from the new terrace and campus”; and “stop receiving money and gifts of any kind from Liberty.” It also calls for the school to cut all ties with Liberty University.
Lynchburg students “did not sign up for an institution that upholds (or is perceived to uphold) the damaging ideology of Jerry Falwell Sr.,” concludes the petition.
Falwell, Sr.’s name is on Westover Hall, a dormitory that was built after Liberty donated $1 million to U of L in 2018. Liberty and U of L have had a close relationship in the past as Falwell, Sr. attended the school for two years before deciding to go to school to pursue a pastoral degree.
The money was donated in memory of Falwell, Sr. and was $250,000 in cash for U of L’s new dormitory and a plot of land near Liberty worth $750,000.
When donating the money, Jerry Falwell, Jr. said, “My father treasured his time at Lynchburg College. The college provided him with a solid educational foundation that served him well throughout his life. He was an excellent mathematician and a stickler for good grammar. Dad even personally proof-read many publications of his ministry and of Liberty University throughout his life. His studies at Lynchburg College were instrumental in preparing him for his life’s work. We are proud to be formally recognizing the key role Lynchburg College played in his life and ministry with this gift."
Liberty and U of L have come together at other times in the past, such as Liberty giving U of L’s swim team access to the Liberty University natatorium for swim practice as they currently do not have a pool of their own.
Falwell, Jr. responded to reports of the call for his father’s name to be removed from the dormitory by saying, “We had a deal. We struck the deal and it’s done. If they want to give the money back, they’re welcome to give it back.”
As of this writing, the petition has more than 900 signatures; the petition is open to the public to sign, not just U of L alumni.