Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is so embarrassing that even conservative student evangelicals want it shut down: graduate
At Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, the Falkirk Center has been devoted to all things Trump—including the president's debunked conspiracy theories involving the 2020 presidential election. And according to Liberty University graduate Calem Best, the Falkirk Center is such an embarrassment that even right-wing evangelical students want it gone from the campus.
The Falkirk Center was founded by former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. and far-right Republican activist Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA. Together, Falwell and Kirk promoted President Donald Trump relentlessly, which is ironic in light of the fact that Liberty University embodies a severe form of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity and Trump — according to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and many others — had extramarital affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal and paid them hush money to keep quiet.
In an article for the conservative website The Bulwark, Best explains, "If you're already thinking that a Fal–Kirk partnership sounds like the opposite of a good idea, you're correct. Liberty University is the Center's institutional home, providing it with funding, staff, office space, camera equipment, and tax-exempt status for receiving donations. In return, Falkirk churns out a steady stream of propaganda aimed at convincing Christian conservatives they are oppressed victims in society, church, politics, culture, child-rearing, and every other dimension of life."
Falwell, Jr. was recently forced out of Liberty University, which was founded by his late father — the Moral Majority's Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. — and the younger Falwell, according to Best, "is presumably now uninvolved with the Falkirk Center."
"As one might expect, the Falkirk Center integrates its co-founders' specialties," Best explains. "From Falwell, a constant mixing of politics and religion and a nonchalant self-confidence. From Charlie Kirk, well, just memes and social media savvy. If you don't have the time or desire to engage with Falkirk's content, just imagine the Turning Point USA, #BigGovSucks style of graphics, but with less design acumen. Or PragerU, but with less sophistry and more naked appeals to religious nationalism."
The Falkirk Center has repeatedly promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that Trump really won the 2020 presidential election and was the victim of widespread voter fraud. In fact, President-elect Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory, winning 306 electoral votes and defeating Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote.
"Much of Falkirk's content is facially ridiculous, deceptive, or easily debunked," Best observes. "But that's because Falkirk is not selling truth. Like any propaganda outlet, Falkirk melds partial truths with distortions to create a coherent worldview — one that comforts the audience while misleading it. There is no other way to explain the debunked claims of election fraud that Falkirk treats seriously, or the consistently shoddy interpretations of the Bible and history that would be considered sophomoric in Liberty's own undergraduate classes. The Falkirk Center doesn't even do a good job at creating alternate realities."
Best adds that Falkirk "engages in revisionist mythmaking, implying that Jerry Falwell, Sr. started the Moral Majority to restore the morality of our nation, when in reality a power-hungry Falwell did it out of fury that he and his televangelist friends had lost tax-exempt status for their segregationist schools."
Falwell, Sr. was a major segregationist during the 1950s and 1960s, aggressively defending Jim Crow laws from the pulpit and insisting that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was unchristian for opposing them.
"The Falkirk Center is just another right-wing slime factory that undermines any good-faith conservative movement, and it's a slime factory that uses my alma mater and my faith as stamps of legitimacy," Best argues. " Like the hundreds of Liberty University students who recently signed a petition calling for Falkirk's dissolution, I've had to explain to countless people that I am not one of those Liberty University grads, not one of those Christians."
Best, now a high school math teacher in Memphis, graduated from Liberty University in May 2020—and he founded an organization called Save71, described by The Bulwark as "an organization devoted to bringing reform to" the college he attended.
"I don't put much stock in Liberty's board any longer, and it's disappointing that the former board chairman, who failed the school by letting Falwell run free for years, is now Liberty's acting president," Best explains. "But I remember when people told me that Falwell would be president forever, and they were wrong, so I have hope. The Falkirk Center should be excised like a tumor from Liberty University."
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