Alex Blaze

Homophobic University Gets Hundreds of Millions of Dollars from the Government

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 06, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: homophobic behavior, Jerry Falwell, liberty university, public broadcasting

Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, is apparently the biggest recipient of federal student aide in Virginia and the biggest private recipient nationwide. The school gets around $445 million while Public Broadcasting, which the right hates and has made people believe gets around 5% of the federal budget, gets $420 million.

jerry-falwell.jpgThe school protests that the money isn't for them, that it's for students to pay tuition, room, and board, but one would have to have a degree from Liberty to not make the connection and ask who's selling the tuition, room, and board. The federal government provides the capital for the loans, backs the loans, and subsidized the interest. If Liberty really thinks it's not benefiting from the money, then it could always give it up.

Liberty isn't a run-of-the-mill Christian university that teaches real things while keeping faith an important element of campus life. Liberty famously teaches Young Earth Creationism in science classes and is somehow still accredited. The university also banned the college Democrats saying that being a Democrat is incompatible with Christianity, only to eventually allow them back on campus without official status after outcry.

Liberty also teaches ex-gayism in its human sexuality class. One such instructional video is after the jump. Pro-gay books are apparently banned from the library, and while the school isn't as honest as other Christian schools and doesn't put its policy on homosexuality online, it's said publicly that its policy towards gay students is to "follow Scripture." Soulforce ran a series of anonymous letters a few years ago from gay students at Liberty showing that students fear being expelled for being gay:

If I were to go on a date, I would have the fear of getting caught and the possibility of being kicked out. Is that really part of the mission of Liberty University? Where is the Christian love in all of this? I only know of a couple gay guys on campus. I'm not sure about girls. The ones I know of are completely afraid of being found out. Of course, a part of who we are must remain a secret for now.

I am currently a junior at Liberty University. I am also gay. No one knows. I don't know if I will ever be able to tell anyone. I know if my family found out they would disown me and defiantly not help me pay for college. I have heard stories about someone at Liberty finding out a student was gay and the school telling the person's parents. That scares me to death. If anyone at school found out I know I would loose all my friends and I'm sure someone would tell on me. I go to school here because it is the only school my parents will pay for.

However, being a student at Liberty was not the only traumatic event in my life that was caused by Liberty. I was also working for Liberty at the time. Someone from my church decided to out me to the Human Resources department. The department decided to let me go not based on my job performance but because they could not have someone who was gay on their staff. They were concerned about what the parents would think if they knew that someone who was gay was working at Liberty. I was told that if I sought counseling then I may get my job back. They also told me that they loved me but they couldn't have someone like me working there.

I'm sure there's an interesting debate to be had as to whether a university like this should be allowed to exist, but there's no reason those of us outside that universe should have to subsidize it. Title IX and the CRA prevent schools from discriminating like that along the lines of sex and race if they receive public assistance and sexual orientation and gender identity should be similarly protected.

If Liberty wants to maintain their policy after that, they'd be free to do so without federal financial aide. As they say, the money's not for them so there shouldn't be much trouble in switching over to completely private funding.

Here's a video from their human sexuality class. When a university teaches it, the students will believe it.

img wikipedia

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I couldn't watch more than 3 minutes of that crap.

I got up to about 2, so you did better than me.

Archwright | April 6, 2011 3:55 PM

Four minutes, then my head exploded. The pseudo-science, IT BURNS US!

Is this the new queer version of playing chicken? I obviously lose.

Rick Sutton | April 6, 2011 11:43 AM

OK, I read this, and my head damned near exploded.

Liberty, you'll recall, has a "Law School" (HUGE air quotes) which produced stellar graduates who flooded the Justice Dept. under Bush2.

AG John Ashcroft, who should be wearing stripes, hired Monica Goodling, the dull tool to head the DOJ's Executive office. She is a grad of Pat Robertson's Regent "Law School," and she hired Liberty Law grads to gut the venerable Civil Rights Division of DOJ:

"One of Ashcroft's most profound changes was to the Civil Rights Division, started in 1957 to fight racial discrimination in voting. Under Ashcroft, career lawyers were systematically fired or forced out and replaced by members of conservative or Christian groups or folks with no civil rights experience. In the five years after 2001, the Civil Rights Division brought no voting cases -- and only one employment case -- on behalf of an African American. Instead, the division took up the "civil rights" abuses of reverse discrimination -- claims of voter fraud or discrimination against Christians. On Feb. 20, Gonzales announced a new initiative called the First Freedom Project to carry out "even greater enforcement of religious rights for all Americans." In his view, the fight for a student's right to read a Bible in school is as urgent as the right to vote."

Liberty and Regent "lawyers" realigned four decades of established CRD protocol. Happily. With gusto.

If they did that with tax money, someone needs to be indicted. Or deported, actually...I don't care which at this point.

Horrendous. There goes lunch.

I read the Salon article and many of the responding comments. The responses, interestingly, tended to range in polarity from 100% acceptance of the article to a complete trashing of it as citing "faulty" intelligence. While I do think the article itself is problematic, I find it noteworthy that few responses (as with the article) had anything to do with the students themselves, who are the ones to receive this money in the first place. I appreciate your reporting, Alex, not only because you are bringing up some of the students involved (especially LGBT students) but also the fact that perhaps many of them are not actually "choosing" to go there. I'd want to know more about them- what is the diversity of the student body? Is there any? Are all kids from the bible belt? What's pushing them toward a college education in the first place? I am afraid that many of the answers to these questions would shed light on a very sad story.

On a side note, I think the fact that this university is accredited and allowed to accept Pell grant money in the first place is abominable.

Brad Bailey | April 6, 2011 2:24 PM

When I saw the photo of Falwell in this commentary, I immediately recalled Christopher Hitchens' eulogy of the man on the Hannity show: "If you gave Jerry Falwell an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox."

Rick Sutton | April 6, 2011 2:56 PM

I googled Liberty. Almost 60,000 students, nearly 20,000 fulltime undergrads. Two-thirds white student body, mostly from the South. Faculty is 94% white, half unaccredited or unrecognized by major peer-review academician-accepted groups. Lae School is, well...a joke. And the university offers 12 PhD programs. Lord help us. ALl pointing to "Dr." Falwell's goal of "every student working toward their Great Commission." Whatever the hell that means. Probably some secret handshake we mere mortals can't begin to fathom.

Just painting a picture for you.

A very scary picture.

Cna you imagine what would happen if the DOE de-certified Liberty and other Christian dogmatic diploma mills, from Pell Grant eligibility? The black helicopter folks would go nuts.

File that under "Things Needing Done in Obama's Second Term, even if Republicans take back the Senate." (Also known as: Paybacks) Flag it "urgent." But don't feed the beast prior to November 2012. They're already fired-up because they think the Ten Commendments are going to be tattooed on the foreheads of every schoolkid in America by August. Halleluyurr.

Isn't it interesting how many of these situations are coming to light lately? The government's investment in the religious right has suddenly become a hot topic. I love it.

roger tinnell | April 10, 2011 8:05 AM

I was born and raised in Lynchburg, Va., the city where the Falwell church is located. Embarassing. At any rate, I watched about 16 minutes of the video on gay counselling (couldn’t take more). It is noteworthy that it begins with a quote from homophobic CS Lewis who called homosexuality a “vice” and a “cross” to bear which made him feel “nauseous”. We learn from Lewis’s writings that apparently he had a big problem with gayness in his all boys’ school. The gobbledygook given us by the speaker on the video is replete with such expressions as “feeling like, you know”, “meaning making”, that old warhorse “lifestyle”, “environmental planning”, “practical theology of sanctification”, and, of course, “God said”. The poor man I watched talk about his life was very sad as he lamented his father’s unapproachability and said “I wanted to feel normal” and that he wanted to live according to the values of “The one who made me”. Certainly he does not mean Buddha.
Religious fanaticism comes in all forms it seems, but it is disconcerting that in our own nation, the “free-est” and supposedly most democratic nation on earth, millions are given to a school which instead of teaching that being homosexual might be perfectly “normal”, gives seminars (paid for by taxpayer dollars) on how to counsel people that an “identity in Christ” means you cannot be gay. Well, theirs is a “Biblical Perspective”, here in quotes because it quite clearly is selective in its choice of what the book says and how to interpret “God’s word”.
Of interest are the profiles of the two Marks on the video:
The man who introduces the video, Mark Laaser: his Employment History found on internet-- Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery , Inc.; American Association of Christian Counselor's Institute for Healthy Sexuality; American Association of Christian Counselor's Institute for Healthy Sexuality; Faithful and True Ministries; Faithful and True Ministries; Faithful and True Ministries; Bethesda Workshops (Listed 3 times); and L.I.F.E. Ministries International. Board Memberships and Affiliations: Board Member; AACC's Institute for Healthy Sexuality; Board Member Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery , Inc.; Co-Founder Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery , Inc.; Board Member Institute for Healthy Sexuality of the American Association of Christian Counselors & American Association of Christian Counselor's Institute for Healthy Sexuality. Education: Master of Divinity Princeton, Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary; PhD , religion and psychology , University of Iowa (at least I think from the reading of his internet info that he holds two PhDs.

The “psychologist” who is the presenter of the video holds a degree from the Christian Calvin College and a PhD from the Pat Robertson Christian Regent Univ..(why are both of these religious schools in my home state?) where he now teaches and in the website of that school, we read that he also has an Endowed Chair of Christian Thought in Mental Health Practice (quite a moniker). He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Psychology and Theology and Christian Counseling Today. There are 12-14 students in the sexuality doctorate program he heads, a program which teaches “through the eyes of faith”. What a cross to bear for the gay world--- 12-14 individuals trying to help possible gays “struggle” and “contend” with their sexuality.