In Liberty’s final years, Falwell spent millions on pro-Trump causes

Lamb, a spokesman for Liberty, said the Falkirk Center plans to publish writing in the future.

“While much of Falkirk’s content is focused on digital brands, we are building a collection of material for print publication in 2021 that includes writings from various Christian professors and researchers at Liberty University and from across the country,” said Lamb.

Advertisements in Trump and other politicians appear in line with Falkirk’s mission because Kirk needs to build an audience so that it can “educate and inform citizens about the fundamental principles and beliefs that are fundamental to the Christian and conservative worldview,” Lamb said. Lamb said an ad featuring Trump that said, “Pray for our president,” “will be a recurring advertisement or meme regardless of which party is sitting in the White House,” and is based on Bible verses.

One of the main Falkirk events, a two-day summit focused on China policy last July, was held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event featured interviews with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and Senator Tom Cotton (R from Ark). Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R), Texas, and others. There were no democrats Featured Speakers at the event.

The Falkirk Center also echoed Trump’s position in rejecting governors ’stay-at-home orders and other coronavirus-related safety recommendations.

“The government has absolutely no power to tell you whether to celebrate Thanksgiving or how. Challenge little dictators and their foolish dictates, and enjoy Thanksgiving time with your loved ones,” read the Falkirk Center on November 19 tweet.

The Falkirk Center acquired Liberty at the same time that the university made cuts to some of its humanitarian programs, reduced the number of positions at the School of Theology in 2019 and abolished the Philosophy department entirely in 2020. To former faculty members such as Paget, the changes indicated that Liberty was It tries to market itself to parents as a “safety net place” [students] He will not be challenged by liberal ideas. “

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“All these deep cuts happen in humanities departments, sections devoted to intellectual life and serious reflection on complex questions. Falkirk provides very easy and simple answers,” added Paget, who teaches English.

Think tanks have proliferated on university campuses in recent years as universities have looked for new ways to attract new money from donors, especially conservatives looking for an ideological point opposite to the left-leaning academia. There is no official definition of what constitutes a think tank, but most institutions – such as the Hoover Institution at Stanford – focus on academics.

Throughout the year, concerns increased among faculty and administrators who note that the Falkirk Center does not appear to play a large role on campus, two former Liberty officials told POLITICO. Its activities seemed to be aimed at sending messages to the broader conservative movement, rather than teaching Liberty students.

Some faculty and administrators themselves pointed to the university’s contributions of $ 2.2 million to Reed’s Faith and Freedom Alliance and $ 300,000 each to Citizens United, the Christian activist group Vineyard Outreach America and Heritage Action, the lobbying group of the Conservative Heritage Foundation.

“These are examples of Jerry’s liberal and unsupervised spending power,” said a former Liberty official. “The interesting question going forward is, well, so the board wasn’t aware of this stuff in 2018, 2019, or 2020 – do you allow them now? Should there be a Falkirk center?”

Although the organizations that received the donations had a conservative flair, Lamb, a spokesman for Liberty, said the grants went toward a variety of non-partisan activities, including “voter education efforts on issues of importance to conservative evangelical Christians.” Voting efforts for conservative evangelical Christians, and “legal measures to enhance government transparency, civil rights, and correct interpretation of the constitution.”

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Marcus Owens, a nonprofit attorney and former IRS attorney, said Liberty has a responsibility to ensure that its money helps advance the university’s educational mission – and most universities avoid donations to political groups like Reed’s Faith & Freedom.

“The organizations he associates with are politically inclined, which is unusual for the university,” said Owens of Reid, a longtime Republican activist and former head of the Christian Coalition. “It seems difficult to incorporate this into the university’s educational mission – it does not promote student learning.”

However, the IRS has been reluctant to monitor donations and other activities that may reflect the political agendas at foundations like Liberty. The causes are multifaceted: a lack of resources, the 2013 Tea Party scandal – in which the IRS was accused of unfairly targeting conservative groups – and more recently, due to the Trump administration, tax experts say.

“Enforcement generally changes with the office change. It depends on the interest of those in power,” said Daniel Romano, who leads the nonprofit services at accounting firm Grant Thornton.

Sacha Woodward

"Wannabe writer. Lifelong problem solver. Gamer. Incurable web guru. Professional music lover."

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