Bronze-level articleLiberty University

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A multi-chef broth
Devil's in the details
The pearly gates
“Knowledge Aflame” seems a bit interesting considering the idea of “Academic Freedom”.

Liberty University is a fundamentalist Christian "university" founded by the late Jerry Falwell. The university was founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. The name was changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1976 before settling on its current name, Liberty University, in 1984.


[edit] Liberty?

The name is reminiscent of Orwellian doublethink (Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Love, et cetera), since Liberty University students do not have the liberty to attend dances, break curfew, watch "R" rated movies, view sexually explicit material, enter the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex, or otherwise exhibit behavior "associated with a counterculture."[1] Students may not drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or organize petitions without permission, and are also subjected to random, mandatory drug tests. This restrictive code of conduct is called the "Liberty Way."[2] No joke intended. Academic posts are entirely non-tenured so the authorities can control staff as well. Falwell has said, "Where tenure is practiced, eventually theistic evolution is taught."[3] The resulting facepalms could be heard for miles.

To be fair to them, their former name of Lynchburg Baptist College would probably draw unwanted connotations[4].

Despite their lack of academic credentials, their debate team appears to be one of the highest ranked in the nation. In reality Liberty University notch up points by debating small colleges where they can win. LU rarely debate the tough opponents like Harvard and when they do they tend to lose.[5][6] It should be noted that they sponsor their debate team in order to create the lawyers that they hope will argue against Roe v. Wade.[7]

The seal of Liberty depicts a book with a "tongue of fire" atop it and the motto "Knowledge Aflame."[8] This is either the most unintentionally hilarious image ever, or evidence that they intend on destroying all knowledge they disagree with; skeptics are not allowed close enough with their irony meters to get an accurate reading. Then again, the image of a book on fire does call to mind historical book burnings, so the seal might not be so ironic after all, in a way.

[edit] Academia

Liberty University offers a wide variety of academic programs and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)[9] to award degrees through the Doctorate level. However, pseudoscience and pseudohistory are thoroughly integrated with legitimate courses of study. For example, a course called "History of Life" presenting Young Earth Creationism as fact is required for all undergraduate students.[10] The course is run by the university's Center for Creation Studies[11] and purports to "draw from science, religion, history, and philosophy in presenting the evidence and arguments for creation and against evolution."[12] The Center for Creation Studies appears to be a business front for pseudoscientist David DeWitt[13], whose "History of Life Course ePack" is a required text for the course.[14]

Randall Price, head of the university's Center for Judaic Studies, has conducted several expeditions to Turkey to find remnants of Noah's Ark.[15]

In 2005 Liberty University opened a School of Aeronautics that claims to be "the largest faith-based aviation program in North America."[16] It is now entirely possible that the person flying your commercial flight actually believes the Earth is 6,000 years old. Also LU offers an Osteopathic Medical school, startup grant provided by the Virginia Tobacco Commission,[17] so it is also possible for your doctor to believe the bible is a literal history book. Thankfully that is very unlikely as they are currently ranked 825th in the nation for a medical education[18] and 508th for research.[19] US NEws and World Reports ranks it #80 for the Southern region in 2014.[20] This doesn't seem bad until you realize the list ends at 93.[21]

It is often hard to find data on the university since it has traditionally been very secretive. However, according to some detailed data in Smartclass rankings it drastically underperforms the average in retention of students (69%), graduation rates (24%), and post graduation salary (bottom 10% of surveyed). Liberty University's law school ranks among the worst ten in the USA with a quarter of its graduates unemployed.[22] Despite all this, Liberty University is very strict about acceptance (~20% of applying students) and students often rank average in standardized testing scores.

[edit] "Research"

The Pre-Trib Research Center,[23] based at Liberty University, "is a 'think tank' committed to the study, proclamation, teaching and defending of the Pretribulational Rapture (pre-70th week of Daniel) and related end-time prophecy."[24] They offer most of their "research" papers online[25][26] and also sell some spiffy DVD sets[27] for completists.

[edit] Politics

A large number of Liberty University graduates were hired by the George W. Bush administration, especially in the Department of Justice.[28]

Senator Ted Cruz gave his 2016 presidential announcement at the university, where students had to go or they would face a $10 fine. In the crowd you could also see some students wearing Rand Paul shirts.[29]

Clown car rider Jeb Bush gave the 2015 commencement address at the university,[30] continuing a family tradition of pandering to evangelicals.

[edit] Local influence

Liberty University desecrated a mountain overlooking most of Lynchburg, Virginia with the Liberty University Monogram[31], a giant logo so large it can literally be seen clear into the next county.[32]

Liberty owns, either directly or indirectly, many local businesses, including hotels[33][34], restaurants[35], shooting ranges[36], a year-round ski slope[37], some strip malls[38], two radio stations[39][40], and a TV station[41].

[edit] Liberty Christian Academy

Like Bob Jones University and a few other fundy madhouses, Liberty University also operates a private high school, Liberty Christian Academy.[42] It was founded by Falwell in 1966 as the Lynchburg Christian Academy, "a private school for white students[wp]."[43]

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Unless, of course, that counterculture happens to be Rev. Falwell's cult.
  2. Glasstetter, Josh. Liberty Isn't Free at Liberty University – Inside Jerry Falwell U. Right Wing Watch website. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  3. Porteous, Skipp. Falwell fights 'heresy' on campus. Institute for First Amendment Studies archived on the Public Eye website. November/December 1997. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  4. The City of Lynchburg, VA is named after John Lynch and his namesake ferry service[wp]. Lynching is probably named after Charles Lynch from "Lynch Law"[wp]. Not that any laymen will look them up in distinguishing between them.
  5. Liberty University #1 in Debate?
  6. Strong Opinions About Liberty University Debate Success
  7. Chafets, Zev. Ministers of Debate. The New York Times Magazine: March 19, 2006.
  9. Liberty University accreditation information. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  10. CRST 290 History of Life. Liberty University website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  11. Center for Creation Studies. Liberty University website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  12. Course syllabus, CRST 290 History of Life. Liberty University website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  13. Hendrix, Steve, Creationist Students Take Trip to Evolution Headquarters: The Smithsonian. Washington Post. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  14. History of Life Course ePack for the Liberty University Online CRST 290. CRST290Online web site. Make sure you have your credit card available. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  15. Archaeology professor Randall Price immerses students in the world of the Bible. Liberty University web site. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  16. School of Aeronautics. Liberty University web site. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  17. Really.
  18. Med Colleges Liberty University Ranking
  19. College Smartclass rankings
  20. Liberty University - US News and World Report Medical school rankings
  21. US News and World Reports list of Southern region universities
  22. Where it counts, at Liberty University
  23. Not intended as a reference to a lesbian sex act popular in porn.
  24. What We Believe. Pre-Trib Research website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  25. Pretrib_arch. Liberty University Digital Commons. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  26. Articles. Pre-Trib Research Center website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  27. Pre-Trib Media. Tim LaFaye Ministries website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  28. Lithwick, Dahlia. Justice's Holy Hires. Washington Post. 8 April 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  29. Goldmacher, Shane. These Students 'Stand with Rand' at Ted Cruz's 2016 Announcement. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  30. Barbaro, Michael. Jeb Bush Defends Religious Freedom at Liberty University. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  31. Introduction to the Campus. Liberty University website. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  32. Liberty Monogram on Google Maps.
  33. Fairfield Inn & Suites to open in Lynchburg, Virginia. Hotel Equities web site. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  34. Liberty University buys Quality Inn in Lynchburg. The News and Advance, Lynchburg, Virginia. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  35. Liberty University Buys Sundae-Grill Building. WSET-TV website. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  36. Shooting Ranges are open for students. Liberty Student News. 15 February 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  37. Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center. Liberty University website. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  38. Plaza shopping center sees revival. Liberty University website. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  39. 90.9 FM - The Light. Liberty University website. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  40. The Journey 88.3. Liberty University website. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  41. WLHG-CD Lynchburg, Virginia. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  42. Liberty Christian Academy website. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  43. Blumenthal, Max. Agent of Intolerance. The Nation. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
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