The Unlikely Disciple: Personality Cult

At Liberty there are two different personality followings: Jerry Falwell and Jesus. The Jesus following is to be expected at the school, after all it is a Christian college, but the Jerry Falwell following is just plain odd. You would think that at a university that is so dedicated to Jesus that Jesus would be their only focus but if you were to ask me I’d say that Jesus is having a run for his money with Jerry. So, I think I should amend my statement about Liberty being a Christian college and say that Liberty is a combination of Christian fervor and Jerry Falwell following.

Many of us know that Jerry Falwell Sr. started the Moral Majority within conservative politics and that he and his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. (real creative name giving) are the darlings of conservative Evangelical Christians. So, of course conservative Evangelical parents would want to send their children to a university that provides a sound Christian education at the university that Jerry Falwell Sr. started.

The personality following of Jerry Falwell Sr. doesn’t stop with Evangelical parents sending their teens to Liberty University. It only continues once the students arrive on campus. Once at Liberty students have the option of going to church at Jerry Falwell Sr.’s Thomas Roads Baptist Church (a super big mega church), study in the Jerry Falwell Library, spend an hour or two in the Jerry Falwell Museum (That Falwell Sr. received as a gift from his sons), listen to Jerry Falwell’s sermons in their free time, listen to Jerry Falwell at weekly convocation, or gaze at the numerous Jerry Falwell portraits hanging in high traffic areas on campus. The portraits of Jerry Falwell hanging in every building brought to mind the famous portraits of Chairman Mao, Stalling, Lenin, and Kim Jong-Il. I thought it was oddly communistic. The only changed needed is changing the university’s name to Jerry Falwell’s Working People’s University or some other equally communistic name.

As for the Liberty students, they seam to be equally in love with Jerry Falwell as they are with Jesus. This could just be their upbringing where they are taught that Jerry Falwell is the leader of conservative Evangelical Christians. Bit the idea that Jerry Falwell has just as strong a following as Jesus on campus rubs me the wrong way. For a truly Christian college I would expect the students to be completely devoted to Christ and not equally devoted to different figures, one of which is not a God like figure of even close. I cannot say for sure that Jerry Falwall has and equal following amongst Liberty students and Jesus does but of the reading I’ve done so far this is the impression that I receive from the book.

 

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