Adrian Smith & Jerry Falwell's Americaby Kyle Michaelis
LU's student newspaper, The Champion, reports:
Dressed sharply in a blue suit, Nebraska state Senator Adrian Smith seems to be the all-American guy, born and raised in Gering, Neb., a town of about 7,800 residents. He came to Liberty in 1989 and spent three semesters at LU before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the first former Liberty student to make a run for the United States House of Representatives.
Sunday, Sept. 17, Smith and his staff held a rally..., inviting people from campus and Thomas Road to meet the man who is in the race for a seat in the House.
Dr. Ron Godwin, head of the Helms School of Government, was on hand to introduce Smith. Godwin described him as a “pioneer, a pathfinder for many, many more leaders like him in the days ahead”….
As a high school senior, Smith came to Liberty for College for a Weekend. Though he had never lived in Virginia before, he made the step to attend college at Liberty...After his first year, he had a desire to work in his state government, but in order to become a page in local legislature, students had to attend college in Nebraska.
Pastor Jonathan Falwell also lauded Smith for his track record and his stance on important and controversial issues.
“That’s the kind of person we need in congress,” he said. “We need people who stand up and say ‘this is what I believe’ and will fight for what they believe.”
He also said his father, Chancellor Jerry Falwell, had the desire to “affect the culture” and that “one day, he wanted to send a Liberty student to congress.”
“I hope to be in the House for a good long time,” Smith said before the gathering. “I want to get elected and stay there until retirement.”
Jonathan Falwell, generally considered the heir to his father's ministry, has donated almost $2,000 to Smith's campaign. Fair enough - Scott Kleeb has received donations from friends and colleagues from school as well. Still, what's actually troubling about the above article (aside from the fact that Smith's only aspiration is to be a politician for the rest of his life) is the possibility that a Smith victory would advance Falwell's diseased idea of America.
Although Jerry Falwell has toned down his Anti-Catholic teachings since recognizing the Catholic vote's political potential and how it might be exploited to fit his ends, he has nevertheless continued to earn his reputation as a corrupt "Agent of Intolerance," as he was so famously described by Republican Sen. John McCain in 2000. Some of Falwell's more shameful moments include:
*In a collection of Falwell's sermons published in 1979, it reads "I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
*In October 1987, the Federal Election Commission fined Falwell $6,000 for transferring $6.7 million in funds intended for his ministry to political committees.
*In 1994, Falwell used his "Old Time Gospel Hour" to sell a video called "The Clinton Chronicles" that made a number of unsubstantiated charges against President Bill Clinton - among them that he was a drug addict and that he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas. Despite claims he had no ties to the project, evidence surfaced that Falwell helped bankroll the venture with $200,000.
*In June 1997, Falwell announced a plan to urge fundamentalist churches to intervene in partisan politics. He vowed to send sample candidate endorsement sermons that pastors could read in their churches.
*In November 1997, Falwell accepted $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty University's financial woes ($40 million in debt). The donation, and several Falwell appearances at Moon conferences, raised eyebrows because Moon claims to be the messiah...In 1978, before the Moon money started flowing, Falwell told Esquire magazine, "Reverend Sun Myung Moon is like the plague: he exploits boys and girls, and he should be exported."
*In January 1999, Falwell told a pastors' conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist prophesied in the Bible is alive today and "of course he'll be Jewish."
*In February 1999, Falwell issued a "parents alert" warning that Tinky Winky, a character on the popular PBS children's show `"Teletubbies," might be gay.
*Responding to the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001, Falwell stated, "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."
It would be unfair to hold Adrian Smith accountable for Falwell's obnoxious statements and misdeeds over the years, but it's troubling that Smith has made no effort to disavow Falwell's most extremist and intolerant tendencies.
At one point in his career, Falwell was so vehemently (and openly) anti-Catholic that he would not share a stage with a priest. This legacy, though now more subdued, continues at Liberty University and perhaps even in the heart of Adrian Smith.
It's no accident that co-author of the best-selling apocalypic Left Behind books Tim LaHaye has donated millions of dollars to the school. Lahaye's Left Behind series, of course, features the Roman Catholic Church as an instrument of the Anti-Christ. LaHaye, who's been in league with Falwell for decades, was also once forced to resign from Jack Kemp's presidential campaign for calling Roman Catholocism "a false religion." And, throughout the 1970s, his church sponsored an anti-Catholic group called Mission to Catholics that printed materials calling Pope Paul VI an "archpriest of Satan, a deceiver, and an antichrist."
Now, the Liberty University hockey team plays at the LaHaye Ice Center, while students work out at the LaHaye Student Center, relax in the LaHaye Lounge, and even take classes in the so-called LaHaye School of Prophecy, which teaches End Times theology.
More outspoken than Falwell, LaHaye's own vision for America includes:
A Religious Right utopia where there is no separation of church and state. Abortion is outlawed and homosexuality is lumped in with pedophilia and prostitution as "perverse sexual practices" that are "universally viewed as immoral and would be shunned." Censorship is rampant as the "Christian and pro-moral community" use the federal government to promulgate "decency" codes.....
Public schools are turned into centers for fundamentalist indoctrination with daily prayer, promotion of the Ten Commandments and creationism firmly ensconced. The Department of Education has been abolished, and teenagers are given no sex education at school.
Adrian Smith actually found ideas such as these attractive? This is the environment in which he felt at home? This is where he actually chose to go to college?
Beyond the religious and political fringe, Falwell and Liberty University have also shown outright hostility to non-white Americans, naming LU's School of Government after Sen. Jesse Helms, one of the most notorious race-baiting politicians of the 20th century.
Finally, for a telling illustration of Liberty University's campus climate - and more about Adrian Smith than we probably want to know - look at the school's student code of conduct, which prohibits viewing R-rated movies (12 reprimands/$50 fine), attending a dance (6 reprimands/$25 fine), and participating in an unauthorized petition or demonstration (12 reprimands/$50 fine). Just possessing alcohol or spending the night with a person of the opposite sex are punishable by 30 reprimands, a $500 fine, 30 hours of Community Service, and possible expulsion.
And, now, Falwell and the entire school are looking to Adrian Smith as their foothold in Congress - their "pathfinder" - the first of many who will remake America into something decidedly un-American. I don't know about you, but - this Halloween season - that might be the scariest idea of all.
If looking for another reason to make one final donation to Scott Kleeb's campaign, I think you've just found it.
Intolerance. Anti-Catholicism. Jesse Helms. The death of public eduacation. Limits on free speech. Those are not the values of Nebraska's Third District voters - who are largely common sense conservatives, not Falwell-style extremists.