Jerry Falwell left indefinitely through open pants photograph
Jerry Falwell Jr. will deliver a speech at the opening ceremony of Liberty University on Saturday, May 11, 2019.(Photo: Facebook / Liberty University)
Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to take an "indefinite leave of absence" from his role as President and Chancellor of Liberty University at the request of the Board of Trustees.
"The Executive Committee of the Liberty University Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full board of directors, met today to call on Jerry Falwell Jr. to agree to indefinitely leave his role as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, of which he is a member effective immediately, "the university said in a statement.
The board's request came days after Falwell expressed his regret that he posted a photo of himself wearing a t-shirt and jeans that opened while his family was on vacation at a costume party on a yacht to expose his stomach and underwear. His right hand was around the waist of his wife's assistant, who was wearing a tank top and open shorts, exposing her stomach.
In a statement released Friday evening, Jerry Prevo, chairman of the Liberty University Board of Trustees, recognized the "unprecedented success" and growth the university has seen with Falwell at its helm and said the decision was "not taken lightly".
"In the 13 years that Jerry Falwell Jr. was President of Liberty University, Liberty has achieved unprecedented academic and financial success with a world-class campus, but also spiritually. At the start of our 50th anniversary year we are blessed to be on a record to have grown from 120,000 students in the personal and online sectors and continue to fulfill our Founder's mission to form champions for Christ around the world.
"Unfortunately, with this success and the stresses of running a large and growing organization, there is considerable pressure. Today my colleagues and I on the Board of Trustees at Liberty University and Jerry agreed that it would be good for him to take an indefinite vacation This was a decision that was not taken lightly, and one that considered the interests and concerns of everyone in the LU community, including students, parents, alumni, faculties, staff, Church leaders, and the Falwell family.
"To support Jerry during this time, we ask our entire church to raise him up to prayer so that he can fulfill God's purpose for him and Liberty University."
In an interview with the WLNI's MorningLine on Wednesday, Falwell explained the context of the photo he posted on Instagram last weekend and then deleted, saying that his wife's assistant was pregnant and could not close her shorts.
"She's pregnant, so she couldn't zip her pants up," he told the radio station. "I was wearing jeans that I hadn't worn in a long time, so I couldn't zip mine up either. So I just stretched my stomach out like hers."
Falwell went on, "I should never have put it up" and "embarrassed her", adding that he "apologized to everyone".
"I made a promise to my kids that I would try to get better," he added, noting that he and his wife were on vacation and it was a costume party. "I'll be a good boy from here … it was just fun, that was it."
In a statement to the Christian Post late Friday, Pastors Chris Williamson, Eric Carroll, and Maina Mwaura – the organizers of a letter to Falwell dated June 1, signed by 35 black pastors, ministry leaders and athletes graduating from the Liberty University stopped donating to the university because they disagreed with Falwell's political rhetoric and activism – said his leave of absence was the right decision.
"We believe the Board of Trustees made the right decision in asking Mr. Falwell to take leave, and we pray for him, his immediate family and our entire Liberty family this season," they said. “First and foremost, we want Mr. Falwell to experience healing and restoration that only God can give. Freedom is a special place, and the God we serve is a mighty God who will lead the school into the next season Freedom The university has made a deep impression on us as students, and we hope that its leadership can return to a focus on training "young champions for Christ" with biblical convictions for the gospel and righteousness. "
On Friday evening, Rep. Mark Walker, RN.C., a 16-year-old former pastor who was also a visiting professor at Liberty University, said on Twitter, "I pray for Jerry Jr. and the Falwells, and take comfort in the Christian principle, that forgiveness and redemption are available to all. "
Walker added, "While not easy, this is the right call for students and family members at @LibertyU. Freedom is such an important institution for our nation, our next generation of leaders and beliefs. The Liberty family affects the world everyone Day for things that are good and just. "
On the previous Friday, before the board announced its decision, Congressman Falwell called on him to step down. "Jerry Falwell Jr.'s continued behavior is appalling. As a member of the Music Faculty Advisory Board and former @LibertyU instructor, I believe Falwell should step down. Neither of us are perfect, but students, faculties, alumni and @LUPraise deserve better." " he wrote on Twitter.
The picture of Falwell and his wife's assistant was shared extensively after Robert Downen, a religion reporter for The Houston Chronicle, posted it on Twitter on Sunday.
"Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise it's just black water in my glass. It was just a prop," wrote Falwell in the caption of the now deleted photo along with other images of the costume party taken from the longstanding comedy -Series "Trailer Park Boys". The comedy performers are known to set a record for the highest number of F-words in a movie by saying the swear word 935 times in the movie "Swearnet".
Some accused Falwell of hypocrisy, citing the Liberty University Code of Conduct, which prohibits students from consuming media that contains "lewd text, anti-Christian messages, sexual content, nudity, pornography" on or off campus.
Falwell, the son of Liberty University's founder, famed preacher Jerry Falwell Sr., assumed the office of President after his father's death in 2007.
In just over 10 years, the university has grown from a combined student body of 38,000 to over 100,000 (both resident and online). This makes it the second largest non-profit university in the world and the second largest private non-profit university in the country.
With the kind permission of Christian Post