Jerry Falwell Jr.

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Jerry Falwell Jr.
Jerry Falwell Jr commencement.jpg
2nd President of Liberty University
Assumed office
May 15, 2007
Preceded byJerry Falwell
Personal details
Jerry Lamon Falwell Jr.

(1962-06-17) June 17, 1962 (age 57)
Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Becki Tilley
EducationLiberty University (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

Jerry Lamon Falwell Jr. (/ˈfɔːlwɛl/; born June 17, 1962) is an American lawyer and university administrator. He serves as the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, appointed in 2007 upon his father's death.

Early life[edit]

Jerry Falwell Jr. was born on June 17, 1962, the eldest son of Jerry Sr. and Macel Falwell (née Pate).[1] He attended private schools in the Lynchburg area, attending Lynchburg Christian Academy, where he graduated in 1980, and attended Liberty University, where he obtained a B.A. in religious studies in 1984.[1] Falwell then attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where he obtained a J.D. in 1987.[1]


From 1987 until 2007, Falwell served in private practice in Virginia and as the lawyer for Liberty University and its related organizations. He joined the Board of Trustees of the university in 2000.[1]

As part of a succession plan the elder Falwell laid out before his death, Jerry Jr. was to be entrusted with Liberty University while Jerry Sr.'s other son, Jonathan Falwell, inherited the ministry at Thomas Road Baptist Church. The decisions were rooted in each's personality: Jerry Jr. had aggressive business instincts, and Jonathan was a more charismatic and morally upstanding character.[2] This succession plan took effect when Jerry Sr. died in 2007.

Under Falwell Jr., Liberty University has come under scrutiny for its authoritarian control over employees and students, its nepotism toward family-owned businesses in the school's investments, and for the increasing influence of Falwell's wife Becki in school affairs.[2]



Falwell stated during one of the University's Convocations that he thought that, if, speaking of the 2015 San Bernardino attack, "some of those people had got what I have in my back pocket right now," that it would not have happened. He said that he was astounded that President Barack Obama's answer to the problem was more gun control. He "always thought that, if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them."[3][4]

His comments were criticized by both Christians[5] and Muslims.[6] According to one report, Falwell was only heard saying "then we could end those Muslims before they walked in", with the "and killed them" part drowned out by applause. Falwell later said he was referring to Muslims committing terrorist attacks and not Muslims in general.[7]

Donald Trump[edit]

On January 26, 2016, Falwell announced his endorsement of Donald Trump for the Republican Nomination in the 2016 Presidential Election; causing some Liberty University alumni and other Christians to express concern that Falwell had "sold his soul."[8][9] On July 21, 2016 at the RNC convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Falwell Jr. called Trump "America's blue collar billionaire" and "one of the greatest visionaries of our time" in his endorsement of the candidate he felt most likely to defend the "right to bear arms," "stop Iran...from becoming a nuclear power," and "appoint conservative pro-life justices to the Supreme Court." [10]

President Donald Trump and Falwell, 2017.

In an August 19, 2016 editorial in The Washington Post, Falwell compared Trump to Winston Churchill: "We need a leader with qualities that resemble those of Winston Churchill, and I believe that leader is Donald Trump."[11] A group called the "Red Letter Christians"[12] criticized Falwell for the pivotal role he played in "forging the alliance between white evangelicals and Donald J. Trump, who won 81 percent of their vote."[9] Trump, who is a personal friend of Falwell’s, gave the commencement address in 2017 at Liberty University, Lynchburg which is "at the heart of pro-Trump evangelical Christianity".[9]

In August, following a white supremacist terror attack in Charlottesville, Falwell defended President Trump, saying that the President doesn't have "a racist bone in his body," adding that the president is being attacked by "thin-skinned Americans". ... "You know, he's a little abrasive sometimes in the way he says things, and we have some thin-skinned Americans sometimes who ignore the substance of what he's saying because they're put off by his demeanor," Falwell said. "And I think we need to grow up as a people and stop being so easily offended."[13]

Asked in a January 2019 interview, "is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?", Falwell answered, "no."[14]


In June 2016, Falwell expressed support for Israel when Liberty University moved to invest $5 million of its endowment in Israel. Falwell stated, "Liberty is glad to be part of supporting the only democracy that's a close ally of the United States (in an area) that is in such turmoil right now."[15]

In April 2017, Falwell referred to Trump as the "dream president" for evangelicals, and cited "uniting with Israel" and appointing "people of faith" in his administration as the reason why evangelicals support Trump.[16]

Possible governmental positions[edit]

In November 2016, Falwell said that President-elect Donald Trump offered him the position of United States Secretary of Education but that he turned down the offer citing personal reasons and because he did not want to leave Liberty University for more than two years.[17] In January 2017, Falwell said that he had been asked by President Trump to head a task force on reforms for the United States Department of Education.[18] In June 2017, Falwell confirmed to the Chronicle of Higher Education that he would be one of 15 college presidents participating in the task force.[19] The task force was never formed.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Falwell is married to Becki Tilley.[1] They have three children, among them businessman Jerry "Trey" Falwell III, and live on a farm in Bedford County, Virginia.[1]

Falwell was sued over a Miami Beach, Florida hostel, which he had invested in along with Giancarlo Granda, a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Hotel. The lawsuit was first filed in 2015; it was dismissed and then refiled in August 2017.[21] Falwell has denied any relationship, business or otherwise, with Granda, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and insisted that the pictures of him at the hostel were altered.[2]

In 2019, Reuters reported that Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor: to help get rid of photos described by Cohen as being "personal" and of the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife.” Falwell's lawyers refused to comment.[22] Most of the photos were later discovered to be of Falwell's wife.[23]

According to Brandon Ambrosino writing in Politico,[2]

Longtime Liberty officials close to Falwell told me the university president has shown or texted his male confidants -- including at least one employee who worked for him at Liberty -- photos of his wife in provocative and sexual poses.

At Liberty, Falwell is “very, very vocal” about his “sex life,” in the words of one Liberty official -- a characterization multiple current and former university officials and employees interviewed for this story support. In a car ride about a decade ago with a senior university official who has since left Liberty, “all he wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” this former official recalled. Falwell did not respond to questions about this incident.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Jerry Falwell: President". Liberty University. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Ambrosino, Brandon (September 9, 2019). "'Someone's Gotta Tell the Freakin' Truth': Jerry Falwell's Aides Break Their Silence". Politico. Retrieved September 9, 2019. photos of his wife in provocative and sexual poses.
  3. ^ Jim DeMint — The Integration of Politics and Spiritual Maturity. Lynchburg, Virginia. December 4, 2015. Event occurs at 46:53. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Manch, Rob (December 9, 2015). "Jerry Falwell, Jr. defends his statements about Muslims and gun control opposition". WSLS 10. Lynchburg, Virginia. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Merritt, Jonathan (December 6, 2015). "Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Troubling Remarks on Guns". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Wheaton, Oliver (December 6, 2015). "University President: 'If more people had guns, we could end those Muslims'". Metro. Retrieved December 6, 2015. Falwell has been accused of 'anti-Muslim bigotry' by Ibrahim Hooper from the Council on Islamic-American Relations.
  7. ^ Tobi Walsh and Jessie Pounds (December 4, 2015). "Update:Falwell defends convocation remarks - 'I'm not backing down'". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, Virginia. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  8. ^ Clark, Heather (January 27, 2016). "Liberty University Alumni Express Concerns About Falwell After 'Soul Selling' Trump Endorsement". Christian News Network. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Goodstein, Laurie (May 23, 2018). "'This Is Not of God': When Anti-Trump Evangelicals Confront Their Brethren". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Rohr, Alex (July 21, 2016). "Falwell's GOP convention speech echoes his father". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, Virginia. Retrieved September 9, 2019. Falwell often compares his endorsement of [Donald Trump] to his father, The Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., endorsing divorced actor Ronald Reagan over Baptist Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter.
  11. ^ Falwell, Jerry Jr. (August 19, 2016). "Jerry Falwell Jr.: Trump is the Churchillian leader we need". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  12. ^ "What is RLC?". Red-Letter Christians. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Blue, Miranda (August 17, 2017). "Jerry Falwell Jr.: 'It's Offensive For Anyone To Say That President Trump Is A Racist'". Right Wing Watch. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  14. ^ Heim, Joe (January 1, 2019). "Jerry Falwell Jr. can't imagine Trump 'doing anything that's not good for the country'". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  15. ^ Pounds, Jessie (June 18, 2016). "Liberty University makes $5 million investment in Israel, more anticipated". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, Virginia. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Mazza, Ed (May 1, 2017). "Jerry Falwell Jr. Calls Donald Trump The 'Dream President' For Evangelicals" – via HuffPost.
  17. ^ "Falwell says Trump offered him education secretary job". Associated Press. November 26, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  18. ^ Blumenstyk, Goldie (January 31, 2017). "Jerry Falwell Jr. Says He Will Lead Federal Task Force on Higher-Ed Policy". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  19. ^ Guttman, Nathan (June 13, 2017). "Evangelical Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. To Serve On Trump Higher Ed Taskforce". The Forward. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  20. ^ Young, Will E. (July 24, 2019). "Inside Liberty University's 'culture of fear'". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 26, 2019. in the end, the task force was never formed
  21. ^ Roston, Aram (May 31, 2018). "Jerry Falwell Jr. And A Young Pool Attendant Launched A Business That Sparked A Bitter Dispute". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  22. ^ "Exclusive: Trump fixer Cohen says he helped Falwell handle racy photos". Reuters. May 7, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  23. ^ Hanks, Douglas; Brown, Julie K. (June 19, 2019). "How cut-rate SoBe hostel launched Jerry Falwell Jr. 'pool boy' saga, naked picture hunt". Miami Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2019. images not of Falwell, but of his wife in various stages of undress.

External links[edit]