A Christian activist group has launched a petition that calls for the Virginia Attorney General’s office and the IRS to investigate Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. So far the petition has exceeded its goal of 10,000 signatures.
The group Faithful America set a new goal of 15,000 signatures for the petition and it’s well on its way to meeting that mark as well. Speaking to NBC News, Rev. Nathan Empsall said that the response was better than he expected.
“But that shouldn’t come as a surprise given how fed up so many Christians are with the way Falwell and others have hijacked the Gospel to represent their hypocritical own self-interests rather than Christ’s teachings of love and justice,” he said.
The petition comes in the wake of multiple news reports that characterize Falwell as a corrupt self-dealer looking to quash scandals who denigrates Liberty students behind closed doors. Firing back at the allegations earlier this month, Falwell asked the FBI to investigate what he says is a “criminal conspiracy” against him orchestrated by former board members of his university.
The petition’s message accuses Falwell of running Liberty University through a “culture of fear.”
“He has offensively mocked his students as ‘retarded.’ Professors receive one-year contracts so they can be quickly dismissed if they speak out. Even the board chairman was removed after questioning Falwell’s support for Donald Trump,” the message reads, adding that there is “more than enough evidence to warrant an official investigation into Falwell’s apparent corruption and misconduct.”
Separately, there’s a coalition of Liberty students who are also demanding an “open and clean investigation” into Falwell.
“We should hold the university president at the same standard that me and my friends at Liberty are held to,” Ian Parish, a senior at Liberty University, told CNBC.
As CNBC points out, Parish led a group of more than 60 Liberty University students who protested against Falwell on campus last Friday after Reuters reported Falwell had referred to a student in an email as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded.”
Falwell initially responded positively to the protests, writing in a tweet that he was “impressed” with how students conducted themselves. “The ones who had concerns and the ones who supported me were both respectful and not angry-very Christ-like in their behavior,” he wrote. “Our students are an example the world can learn from!”
But the very next day, he tweeted out a screen shot of a post he found on Instagram that made fun of the protesters, saying they’re “probably the same people going to the Area 51 raid in a week. Natural selection at its finest.”
Featured image via screen grab/WSLS