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Jerry Falwell Jr. Photo: video still.

“Not a religious person,” says Jerry Falwell Jr. in Vanity Fair interview

Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president of Liberty University, recently talked about his fall from grace in “Vanity Fair” magazine. He said he is not a “religious person.”

People think that “because of my last name, but I’m not,” Falwell said. “My goal was to make them realize I was not my dad.”

Falwell’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr., founded Liberty University. He died in 2007. Jerry Sr., according to his son, did not force him to go to church and did not object when Falwell said he didn’t want to be a preacher. He planned to become a real estate developer, but Falwell said there was pressure from his father to help keep Liberty afloat financially.

“We had to put on an act,” said Becki Falwell, Falwell Jr.’s wife. She eventually had an affair with a Miami pool boy, a decision she called her biggest regret.

In 2020, Falwell was a controversial figure at times. He made conspiracy claims about COVID-19, tweeted about race and posted a photo of himself with his pants unzipped and his arm around a pregnant woman. He later said the photo was from a costume party. Later, the Miami pool boy exposed the story of the affair and said that the couple bought his silence. Falwell said he knew of the affair but denied taking part.

Liberty University, one of the largest in the nation and with respected degree programs, put Falwell on leave. He resigned in August 2020. He sued the school but then withdrew that lawsuit. The Falwells are not allowed on campus even though their daughter is a senior there. In April 2021, the school sued him or $40 million and said he committed fraud when he negotiated his contract in 2019.

Russell Moore, former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in a newsletter that Falwell Jr. wasn’t a hypocrite because he “told us repeatedly how he saw the world.” Moore did admit that Falwell’s actions were hypocritical in a sense but also said “we didn’t hold Jerry Falwell Jr. accountable for all the vulnerable people who suffered because of his decisions.

“I do know that when a man tells us he was in such a desperate, self-destructive place for so long, we owe it to him — and to ourselves — to ask, ‘Were we so deceived that we couldn’t help him? Or did we turn our attention away as long as he was succeeding?’ If the latter, the problem isn’t Jerry Falwell Jr.’s hypocrisy. The problem is us.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice