After thoroughly embarrassing the school he ran like a dictator since 2007, Jerry Falwell, Jr. is now the former president of Liberty University and a punchline for years to comes given his sexual hypocrisy.
We are also committed to learning the consequences that have flowed from a lack of spiritual stewardship by our former president. One of the leading forensic firms in the world has been retained by Liberty University’s Board of Trustees to conduct a thorough investigation into all facets of Liberty University operations during Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tenure as President, including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters.
That’s a start. But anyone who’s watched churches investigate themselves can tell you all the pitfalls that comes with it. How can anyone trust Liberty when Falwell’s every move for years now has shown how little trust both he and the Board deserve?
At the moment, we don’t know how independent this investigation really is. We don’t know how much access investigators will have to Falwell’s email accounts and anything he may have deleted while working for Liberty. We don’t know how the results of the investigation will be released, or whether Liberty’s Board will get to censor any part of it. We don’t know if they will pledge to implement any recommendations made by investigators.
I don’t say this often, but they should really take a cue from the owners of Hobby Lobby, who recently hired an investigator to examine possible forgeries at the Museum of the Bible, which they own.
In that case, the Green family hired an independent investigator with expertise in fraud who insisted on certain conditions: Museum officials wouldn’t be allowed to offer any input into her work, her report would be the final word on the matter, and the information would be made public either way so that the Museum couldn’t bury the truth.
Liberty hasn’t said they would agree to those same conditions. At least not publicly. They should if part of their goal is to regain trust. Boz Tchividjian, who worked at Liberty and now represents victims of sexual abuse, has a more thorough list of how the school could do a proper investigation at Religion News Service.