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What Stupid Mess Did Evangelicals Make Now? Liberty University Edition

By Mike Redmond | Politics | March 30, 2020 |

By Mike Redmond | Politics | March 30, 2020 |


jerry-falwell-jr.jpg

When it became clear in mid-March that our lives were about to drastically change, I wrote about evangelicals who were blowing off the advice of health officials and stubbornly refusing to cancel church services. Hell, some made it a point to actively invite more people and even encouraged them to shake hands! Jesus Christ. So you’ll probably be very surprised to learn that these people did not get smarter, and instead, doubled down on their stupidity with epically disastrous results that anyone could’ve seen coming

This time around, Liberty University has stepped in shit after the New York Times reported that several of the students who were invited back to campus after spring break have tested positive for COVID-19. This is particularly infuriating for the Lynchburg, Va. community who were absolutely pissed — solid read in Politico, btw — to learn that the Christian college would not follow the lead of most universities across the country that shut down campuses in the middle of spring break as they switched to online classes for the remainder of the semester.

Like most right-wing morons and your boomer mom, Falwell has operated under the assumption that nationwide quarantines and school closings are an “overreaction driven by liberal desires to damage Mr. Trump.” In short, we’re all being a bunch of liberal pussies getting our panties in a bunch over a little ol’ flu. As for entirely justifiable concerns from the community that Falwell was turning his campus into a petri dish, well, there’s a simple explanation for that, too: CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION.

“We think it’s irresponsible for so many universities to just say ‘closed, you can’t come back,’ push the problem off on other communities and sit there in their ivory towers,” Mr. Falwell said on Wednesday on a radio show hosted by Todd Starnes, a far-right conspiracy theorist.

“We’re conservative, we’re Christian, and therefore we’re being attacked,” he said.

There’s just one small problem. Even conservative parents were warning Falwell that he’s being an idiot, and he responded with all of the professionalism you’d expect from a grifter prince using his Christian university like a private piggy bank.

Jeff Brittain, a Liberty parent, wrote on Twitter: “I’m as right wing as they get, bud. But as a parent of three of your students, I think this is crazy, irresponsible and seems like a money grab.” Mr. Falwell replied, calling him a “dummy.”

But with the virus bouncing around his campus, Falwell can no longer wave away the issue as a partisan attack. It’s on his doorstep, and it’s very real. The only saving grace is that only 1,900 out of 16,000 students returned to campus, and of those 1,900, at least 800 have since left. However, that’s still 1,100 people all in one place, not to mention, who the hell knows if the ones who left are infected or not. So really awesome stuff all around.

In the meantime, Falwell is handling the situation like any good evangelical who just had their bullshit blow up in their face: Lying and gaslighting. On top of editing website messages where the university claimed doctors said it would be safe to return to campus — those doctors were very pissed to see their names on recommendations they never made — Falwell has resorted to the tried and true method of “I never said that.” (Remember: It’s never a lie if you’re doing it to defend Christ’s word!)

“We never discussed numbers, and I never told them the dorms would be closed,” Mr. Falwell said on Sunday. “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on what was said.”

What we’re witnessing is what happens when the exploitive peddling of supernatural protection collides with a very real threat that you can’t pray away. It’s not a good look when you preach that “no weapon formed against me shall prosper,” or that the Holy Spirit will ward off evil, only to find yourself in a position where you have to admit that saying magic words from a fairytale will accomplish absolutely jackshit or you’re about to get a bunch of people killed.

Unfortunately, these folks are finding out way too late that they can’t just bury their heads in a Bible and hope this whole thing blows over. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask this pastor who, coincidentally, is also from Virginia.

Seems like this might be something that would prompt someone to close their Christian university, but what do I know? I’m just a scared liberal bitch who’s letting my AMERICAN FREEDOMS get stolen by — *checks notes* — conservative, small government president Donald Trump. Yup, that tracks.

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