Why Is Jerry Falwell's Evangelical University Getting Filthy Rich off Your Tax Money?
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In a recent piece at WiredPen, Kathy Gill pointed out that while Liberty has received more than $445 million, in 2010, National Public Radio received $2.7 million in federal money.
According to Gill, who teaches digital communication at the University of Washington, "Liberty ... sucks in federal dollars because it has set up an online university (think University of Phoenix et al) which it has used to claim 58,000 students." Gill stated that:
"The federal windfall, if it follows the law of averages, is coming at the expense of the American taxpayer. That's because students at for-profit colleges/universities default at an astronomical rate relative to public colleges. Private school students account for about half of all federal student loan defaults yet these institutions account for about a quarter of federal financial aid while enrolling only about 10 percent of college students."
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Officials at for-profit colleges say that their students default at higher rates because a majority of them are poorer to start with and face many more financial challenges. Critics of the colleges say their high default rates show that many of those institutions are loading up their students with unaffordable debt that the students cannot repay once they graduate or drop out."
Kathy Gill also noted that in 2007, the year that Falwell died, "Liberty was $20-$25 million in debt," which was paid off through the use of "a $34 million insurance policy," that Falwell had taken out.
Rev. Moon to the rescue.
Some twelve years earlier, the existence of Liberty University was being threatened, by a debt of $73 million. In 1995, veteran journalist Robert Parry told the spellbinding story of secret meetings, strange bedfellows, and how the Rev. Sun Myung Moon secretly helped to bail out the university by funneling funds to a non-profit Forest, Va.-based organization called Christian Heritage Foundation, which was run by two Virginia businessmen, Dan Reber and Jimmy Thomas.
According to Parry, "Reber and Thomas earned Falwell's public gratitude by excusing the Lynchburg, Va., school of abot one-half of its $73 million debt. In the late 1980s, that flood of red ink had forced Falwell to abandon his Moral Majority political organization and nearly drowned Liberty University in bankruptcy".
"... Their non-profit Christian Heritage Foundation of Forest, Va., snapped up a big chunk of Liberty's debt for $2.5 million, a fraction of its face value. Thousands of small religious investors who had bought church construction bonds through a Texas company were the big losers. But Falwell shed no tears. He told local reporters that the moment was 'the greatest single day of financial advantage' in the school's history."
"Left unmentioned ... was the identity of the bigger guardian angel who had been protecting Falwell's financial interests -- from a distance and without publicity. That secret benefactor was the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed South Korean messiah who is controversial with many fundamentalist Christians because of his bizarre Biblical interpretations and his brainwashing tactics that have torn thousands of young people from their families. Moon also has grown harshly anti-American in recent years."
"Covertly, Moon helped bail out Liberty University through one of his front groups which funneled $3.5 million to the Reber-Thomas Christian Heritage Foundation, the non-profit that had purchased the school's debt."
Another interesting Liberty U./Moon connection is Dr. Ronald Godwin, who currently serves as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of Liberty University. According to the website Cult News from Rick Ross, Godwin was "formerly a Senior Vice President at the Moon-controlled newspaper the Washington Times." Ross reported that Godwin was "A professor at Liberty University during the 1980s [before he] ... took a job at the Washington Times in 1986. He also once served as Executive Director and Executive Vice President of Falwell's 'Moral Majority' and was contributing editor of its newspaper according to his bio."