It’s not about faith. It’s about power. The Family explores the history of a quietly powerful religious organization with strong ties to US politics. Meet The Family on August 9, only on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80063867
It’s not about faith. It’s about power. The Family explores the history of a quietly powerful religious organization with strong ties to US politics. Meet The Family on August 9, only on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80063867
(Special thanks to the person known as "seemslikeadream" who posts at Democratic Underground (the post containing most of the source info for this diary is here) and at Jeff Well's forum, the Rigorous Intuition discussion board. He/she doesn't post at Dailykos, but I wish they did, because they're brilliant.)
6,000 soldiers claim persecution by "Christian" evangelicals
Community (This content is not subject to review by Daily Kos staff prior to publication.)
Thursday November 22, 2007 · 1:15 AM CST
"They are proselytizing not on behalf of the Constitution of the United States and the national security interests of our country but rather on behalf of some sort of fanatical view of end times. And they are using our army to affect that."
-- Ambassador Joe Wilson
Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force JAG and White House attorney for Ronald Reagan, has received over 6,000 complains from military personnel about being harassed by Evangelical "Christians". 95% of these complains come from people who are, actually, already Christians.
For his trouble, Weinstein, founder of The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has found "dead animals on his porch, feces smeared on his walls, or slashes in his tires. Men have called to threaten his daughter, women to chant rhymes about shooting him in the head, small children to inform him that he will burn in hell."
These are the values of the so-called Christians (more like the American Taliban) who are trying not only to infiltrate our government, but to turn our military into "God's Nuclear-Armed Army". And it looks like they're winning the battle.
Mother Jones has an excellent article on Weinstein. For him, the battle has always been personal:
In 1973, during his freshman year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, he repeatedly found anonymous anti-Semitic notes in his dorm room. He had nearly forgotten the experience when his son, Curtis, entered the Air Force Academy in 2003 and discovered that strains of anti-Semitism had metastasized. (By then Colorado Springs had come to be known as the "Vatican of the Religious Right" for its concentration of evangelicals.) Cadets and officers targeted Curtis Weinstein on eight or nine separate occasions during his freshman year with anti-Jewish remarks. During a football game, an upperclassman reportedly asked, "How does it make you feel to know that you killed Jesus Christ?"
More from the Mother Jones article:
Weinstein is certain that fundamentalists will stop at nothing to transform the United States military into an army of God. He notes that Officers Christian Fellowship, with chapters in every major U.S. military installation in the world, envisions—and here he quotes its mission statement—a "spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." The group has helped boost fundamentalist Christianity among the armed forces from a negligible presence 20 years ago to a faith currently held by 30 percent of U.S. soldiers, according to Weinstein. He adds that many of those soldiers—hardcore end-timers and Dominionists—desperately want America to invade Iran, thereby triggering the biblical prophecy of the Rapture.
This summer he uncovered plans by the Pentagon to ship "freedom packages" to soldiers in Iraq that were to contain Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic, and Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a video game inspired by post-Rapture novels in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers. Partly due to Weinstein's efforts, the packages were never sent.
Here's how bad it is:
The man is a Republican who represented Reagan in the Iran/Contra affair! One of his supporters is an evengelical Christian himself, David Iglesias, David Iglesias (one of the U.S. attorneys dismissed this year), who says:
"A lot of the anecdotal evidence that Mikey told me I found very troubling from a constitutional perspective."
Ya don't say, David. Another supporter of the The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is Ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame), who says:
"They are proselytizing not on behalf of the Constitution of the United States and the national security interests of our country but rather on behalf of some sort of fanatical view of end times. And they are using our army to affect that."
And many people aren't quite aware of the same idealogical insanity behind Erik Prince and Blackwater Inc.:
BLACKWATER, the secretive private army now emerging into public view, is a perfect hinge linking two key elements of the Republican political base: America's war machine and a muscular form of fundamentalist Christianity.
Blackwater is the private empire of billionaire Erik Prince, a major Republican fundraiser and bankroller of several fundamentalist Christian organizations. His private army employs some 2,300 active gunners and boasts a register of 21,000 ready to serve on call. He has the largest privately held arsenal in the country and the expertise and firepower to bring down a small country.
In Prince, the Republicans' radical Christian base is wed to the war-machine base, the one providing votes and manpower, the other providing campaign funds.
The resulting combination is one of rigid ideology and eagerness to solve any problem with overwhelming force. The Bush administration convinced itself its views on Iraq were right, pushing aside contrary evidence, then failed to think beyond "shock and awe," with resultant horrors.
Another person who has written extensively on this thread is Chris Hedges.
From this link (scroll down):
He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and is the author of the just published "American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America." In this book, Hedges, who grew up in rural parishes in upstate New York where his father was a Presbyterian pastor, attacks the Christian fundamentalist movement from the point of view of a believer, as someone steeped in the Bible and Christian tradition. He points to the hundreds of members of Congress with high approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups as one of many signs that the movement is burrowing deep inside the American government, in order to subvert it. The movement's call to dismantle the wall between church and state and the intolerance it preaches against all who do not conform to its warped vision of a Christian America are pumped into tens of millions of American homes through Christian television and radio stations, as well as reinforced through the curriculum in Christian schools. He shows that the movement's yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on dispassionate, intellectual inquiry are laying the foundation for an unrecognizable fundmentalist America. His thesis: we face an imminent threat.
In The Christian Right and the Rise of American Fascism, an article he claims "no major publication will print," Hedges details in the most blunt, frightening, yet utterly realistic way the true beliefs of these people, and the reasons they exist. Here's a little sample:
This image of Christ as warrior is appealing to many within the movement. The loss of manufacturing jobs, lack of affordable health care, negligible opportunities for education and poor job security has left many millions of Americans locked out. This ideology is attractive because it offers them the hope of power and revenge. It sanctifies their rage. It stokes the paranoia about the outside world maintained through bizarre conspiracy theories, many on display in Pat Robertson's book The New World Order . The book is a xenophobic rant that includes vicious attacks against the United Nations and numerous other international organizations. The abandonment of the working class has been crucial to the success of the movement. Only by reintegrating the working class into society through job creation, access to good education and health care can the Christian Right be effectively blunted. Revolutionary movements are built on the backs of an angry, disenfranchised laboring class. This one is no exception.
The depictions of violence that will befall non-believers are detailed, gruesome and brutal. It speaks to the rage many believers harbor and the thirst for revenge. This, in large part, accounts for the huge sales of the apocalyptic series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their novel, Glorious Appearing , based on LaHaye's interpretation of Biblical Prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ eviscerates the flesh of millions of non-believers with the mere sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror, of how "the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin." Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The novel, part of The Left Behind series, are the best selling adult novels in the country. They preach holy war.
I highly recommend this article and wish I could quote it more at length. It begins with these scorching paragraphs:
Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School , told us that when we were his age, he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the "Christian fascists."
The warning, given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global, Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.
He was not a man to use the word fascist lightly. He was in Germany in 1935 and 1936 and worked with the underground anti-Nazi church, known as The Confessing Church, led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Adams was eventually detained and interrogated by the Gestapo, who suggested he might want to consider returning to the United States . It was a suggestion he followed. He left on a night train with framed portraits of Adolph Hitler placed over the contents inside his suitcase to hide the rolls of home movie film he took of the so-called German Christian Church, which was pro-Nazi, and the few individuals who defied them, including the theologians Karl Barth and Albert Schweitzer. The ruse worked when the border police lifted the top of the suitcases, saw the portraits of the Fuhrer and closed them up again. I watched hours of the grainy black and white films as he narrated in his apartment in Cambridge .
He saw in the Christian Right, long before we did, disturbing similarities with the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party, similarities that he said would, in the event of prolonged social instability or a national crisis, see American fascists, under the guise of religion, rise to dismantle the open society. He despaired of liberals, who he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil nor the cold reality of how the world worked. The current hand wringing by Democrats in the wake of the election, with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders brand them "demonic" and "satanic," would not have surprised Adams . Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil, a fight that for him was an integral part of the Biblical message, would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.
It makes one wonder about the recent fiasco involving the B-52, "accidentally" loaded with nuclear-tipped missles, and headed toward Barksdale, an Air Force base that is a staging facility for operations in the middle east:
"Nothing like this has ever been reported before and we have been assured for decades that it was impossible," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, co-chair of the House Bi-partisan Task Force.
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said a host of security checks and warning signs must have been passed over, or completely ignored, for the warheads to have been unknowingly loaded onto the B-52.
ACMs are specifically designed to carry a W80-1 nuclear warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and delivered by B-52 strategic bombers.
"It’s not like they had nuclear ACMs and conventional ACMs right next to each other and they just happened to load one with a nuclear warhead," Kristensen said.
The Defense Department uses a computerized tracking program to keep tabs on each one of its nuclear warheads, he said. For the six warheads to make it onto the B-52, each one would have had to be signed out of its storage bunker and transported to the bomber. Diligent safety protocols would then have had to been ignored to load the warheads onto the plane, Kristensen said.
All ACMs loaded with a nuclear warhead have distinct red signs distinguishing them from ACMs without a nuclear yield, he said. ACMs with nuclear warheads also weigh significantly more than missiles without them.
"I just can’t imagine how all of this happened," said Philip Coyle, a senior adviser on nuclear weapons at the Center for Defense Information. "The procedures are so rigid; this is the last thing that’s supposed to happen."
So how DID it happen, then? We know General Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, finally got caught after regularly appearing at evangelical revivals preaching that the US was in a holy war as a "Christian nation" battling "Satan". If some unhinged Boykin-esque American Taliban were actually behind the B-52 mess, would we ever know? Of course not.
I'll end this with more words from Robert C. Koehler, in his excellent article here, (hat tip to leolabeth for correcting my attribution for this quote) regarding the insignia in the photo above:
consider the 523rd Fighter Squadron, based at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., which calls itself The Crusaders, and whose emblem consists of a sword, four crosses and a medieval knight’s helmet. They fly F-16s with payloads consisting of "a wide variety of conventional, precision guided and nuclear weapons." And listen once again to Commander-in-Chief Bush, speaking in 2003 to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If this is a religious war — a "clash of civilizations," waged by competing agents of God’s will — victory may be indistinguishable from Armageddon. God help the human race."
Onward Christian Soldiers - Rumsfeld
The Dogs of War
https://www.democraticunderground.com/d ... s=125x9558
Onward Christian soldiers: Evangel. takeover of the military
"C Street" and the Military
Sex and power inside "the C Street House"
U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible
The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger
American Right-Wing Christians Waging Spiritual War in Iraq
Meet the Most Extreme of the Radical Christians
How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory
Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Founder Erik Prince’s Private Army of “Christian Crusaders” in the UAE
Billionaire Builds An Evangelical Christian Empire From Hobby Store Fortune
Is Fascism Coming to America? And If So, Dressed as What?
Paul Weyrich’s Secret Manual on How to Win Politically
Since the writing and posting of my essay, The Despoiling of America in February 2004, there is more and more evidence that not only has a cultural war been launched, but that the plotters are winning it. “Dominionism” now looks more like a term that is applicable to both right-wing-religious believers and to the neo-cons who were created and born in an astonishing resurgence of an immoral Machiavellianism: both groups believe in domination and control. While religious adherents adopted a decidedly heretical Christian doctrine, the neo-cons continue to use the American churches to help execute their cabal. It was expressed this way by a Yurica Report talk board participant:
“One of the more sinister aspects of the current crisis is the influence of Leo Strauss on the pro-war, “neo-cons” who are determining so much of our foreign policy. While the Christian right thinks it is running the show, Leo Strauss’ irreligious philosophy is actually in control. Strauss believed that the rulers should not be religious, but should use religion to manage the people — which he evidently regarded as a stupid herd. He also believed that a state of war was great for controlling and directing the masses. So it’s all come together: the weirdest book of the bible [Revelations], with its mysterious disasters; the scheming behind the scenes warmongers and an incident of terrorism that has served admirably as the Project for a New American Century’s hoped-for ‘new Pearl Harbor.’” Adrien Rain
Americans and the main-stream media have been very slow in catching on to the fact that we are in a war—a war that is cultural, religious and political. One document not mentioned in The Despoiling of America is the closeted manual that reveals how the right wing in American politics can get and keep power. It was created under the tutelage of Paul Weyrich, the man who founded the Free Congress Foundation. Conservative leaders consider Weyrich to be the “most powerful man in American politics today.” There is no question of his immense influence in conservative circles. He is also considered the founder of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank made possible with funding from Joseph Coors and Richard Mellon-Scaife. Weyrich served as the Founding President from 1973-1974.
To get a sense of how revolutionary the political fight for power in the U.S. is, we need to look at a few quotes from what has been dubbed, “Paul Weyrich’s Teaching Manual,” the Free Congress Foundation’s strategic plan on how to gain control of the government of the U.S. Written by Eric Heubeck, and titled, “The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement,” the document is no longer available at the Free Congress Foundation’s website for obvious reasons. But excerpts are published at the Yurica Report. The excerpts explain why the Dominionists are winning; the tactics they endorse are sheer Machiavellian:
I have paraphrased the four immoral principles of the Dominionist movement as the following:
1) Falsehoods are not only acceptable, they are a necessity. The corollary is: The masses will accept any lie if it is spoken with vigor, energy and dedication.
2) It is necessary to be cast under the cloak of “goodness” whereas all opponents and their ideas must be cast as “evil.”
3) Complete destruction of every opponent must be accomplished through unrelenting personal attacks.
4) The creation of the appearance of overwhelming power and brutality is necessary in order to destroy the will of opponents to launch opposition of any kind.
According to Jeffry Sharlet, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich are studied as textbooks in a particular leadership training group he wrote about in Harper’s magazine.
Eric Heubeck, the author of Mr. Weyrich’s manual, does not mince words. Here is a sample of the most immoral political program ever adopted by a political movement in this country. Notice that the manual begins with the adoption of the fundamental fact of Machiavellianism:
“This essay is based on the belief that the truth of an idea is not the primary reason for its acceptance. Far more important is the energy and dedication of the idea’s promoters—in other words, the individuals composing a social or political movement…
“We must, as Mr. Weyrich has suggested, develop a network of parallel cultural institutions existing side-by-side with the dominant leftist cultural institutions. The building and promotion of these institutions will require the development of a movement that will not merely reform the existing post-war conservative movement, but will in fact be forced to supersede it—if it is to succeed at all—because it will pursue a very different strategy and be premised on a very different view of its role in society….
“There will be three main stages in the unfolding of this movement. The first stage will be devoted to the development of a highly motivated elite able to coordinate future activities. The second stage will be devoted to the development of institutions designed to make an impact on the wider elite and a relatively small minority of the masses. The third stage will involve changing the overall character of American popular culture….
“Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions….
“We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left. We will not give them a moment’s rest. We will endeavor to prove that the Left does not deserve to hold sway over the heart and mind of a single American. We will offer constant reminders that there is an alternative, there is a better way. When people have had enough of the sickness and decay of today’s American culture, they will be embraced by and welcomed into the New Traditionalist movement. The rejection of the existing society by the people will thus be accomplished by pushing them and pulling them simultaneously.
“We will use guerrilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime…
“We must create a countervailing force that is just as adept as the Left at intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism but are not ideologically committed, such as Hollywood celebrities, multinational corporations, and university administrators. We must be feared, so that they will think twice before opening their mouths…
“We will be results-oriented rather than good intentions-oriented. Making a good-faith effort and being ideologically sound will be less important than advancing the goals of the movement…
“We need more people with fire in the belly, and we need a message that attracts those kinds of people….We must reframe this struggle as a moral struggle, as a transcendent struggle, as a struggle between good and evil. And we must be prepared to explain why this is so. We must provide the evidence needed to prove this using images and simple terms….”
In actuality, the concept that dominionist minded conservatives should establish parallel or dual institutions is a new form of segregation. This is especially apparent when a conservative institution offers the same services or products as the liberal oriented institutions. In other words, if it is not possible for dominionists to takeover or grab power in every institution—they create a parallel world so that the left is to be separated and segregated from the right and conservatives are urged to purchase from the conservative institutions.
The fact that Weyrich’s plan has actually been instituted is all around us. The Council on Foreign Relations is mimicked by the secretive dominionist Council for National Policy.  The so called “liberal” press is countered with Fox News and Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times, and dominionist talk show hosts spew their right wing political views and venom from coast to coast. Public schools are countered with private home and chartered schools. And in the last few months a move has been made within the churches to break-up and divide denominations along the lines of conservative beliefs in certain social issues so that two sets of churches will be created: one that practices right wing politics and one that is liberal!
It almost mimics what Jesus said he would do in the Bible: those on the Lord’s left will be cast into outer darkness, those on the Lord’s right will be the chosen elect, the over-comers of God’s people. This biblical imagery appears to be a powerful biblical affirmation for church-goers who desire to be on the Lord’s “right” politically as well—until one realizes that when the two groups of people stand facing the Lord—the mirror image is reversed: those on his right will be those facing him on the left; those on the Lord’s left will be those facing him on the Lord’s right! It’s just an aside, but it suggests to me that justice will actually be done, when the Lord says, “I never knew you” to those who loudly proclaim their hypocritical religious devotion to him, while ignoring his command to feed the poor and cloth the naked. The biblical passage goes on to say that those about to be cast out ask, “When did we fail to feed the poor and cloth the naked?” The answer is: “In as much as you did it unto the least of these my children—you did it unto me.” When dominionists seek to privatize medicare and social security, and deregulate corporate controls on whole industries, so that the poor and needy become poorer and needier, they have done it to the Lord.
The Myth of Terrorism and How the Corporate
Complex Joined the Power Grab
Yes! To this thought I hold with firm persistence;
The last result of wisdom stamps it true:
He only earns his freedom and existence,
Who daily conquers them anew.
Thus here, by dangers girt, shall glide away
Of childhood, manhood, age, the vigorous day:
And such a throng I fain would see,--
Stand on free soil among a people free!
Then dared I hail the Moment fleeing:
“Ah, still delay—thou art so fair!”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, from Faust
The entire strategic conversion of the U.S.A. and its constitutional order into a theocratic corporate market-state is based upon an alleged threat to the “security” of the country. The political analysis of how, why and the historical “necessity” for the market-state has been laid out in a book for all of us to read. It’s the road map that joins the corporate world with the religious world.
The eloquent analysis from an eloquent and brilliant mind can be found and read in: The Shield of Achilles by Philip Bobbitt. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2002. Almost the entire book was written prior to September 11, 2001; however Bobbitt made insertions into his text to account for 9/11’s impact upon America’s foreign and domestic policies. Bobbitt uses Shell's Scenario Planning as his model to test possible scenarios in risk planning for the future. His book was being offered for sale at several think tank web sites when I decided to purchase it. He is a lawyer--professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Texas Law School in Austin. Inscriptions in two of his books show that he may have had a recent Christian conversion experience. He's a brilliant man. He was a fellow at King's College, London, in the War Studies Department and was counselor on international law at the Department of State. He was the director of intelligence, senior director for critical infrastructure and senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council (under Clinton). He cites Condoleezza Rice' writings several times in the book.
Time Magazine published Bobbitt's essay explaining his book on September 9, 2002. He wrote:
“If September 11 is the forerunner of a new world conflict, coping with the conflict could bring a new constitutional order in its wake. In the 21st century, what might be called ‘market states’ could replace nation-states. Market states will have the same borders and political systems as nation-states but will shift important responsibilities from government to the private sector; multinational corporations will become surrogate agents of government, filling roles that government can no longer play and blurring the boundaries between political and corporate leadership....”
My response to Mr. Bobbitt is this: Corporations are not democratic bodies. They do not make good governments. (I have 20 years of experience working within a corporate entity that attempts to govern a community. Its record is dismal; it acknowledges no constitutional rights for its citizens. Only the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation hold sway and even these are frequently broken should it be advantageous for the board to do so.)
I call Bobbitt a dominionist based on his political preferences and his religious leanings. For instance Bobbitt prefers the privatization of medical care, social security, pensions and schools. (At page 671.) He prefers the discouragement of government regulations of any kind and will tolerate income disparities. He prefers that job creation be achieved at the cost of job security. And he prefers an all-volunteer military. 
Moreover, Bobbitt prefers a laizze faire “entrepreneurial” market-state that is confrontational to workers as opposed to two other possible market states which he creates as models: The “mercantile model” (in which he says consumer opportunities are sacrificed to the long-term opportunities of the society as a whole) and the “managerial model,” which he says is often called the Soziale Marktwirtschaft, (p. 672) (Social Free-Market Economy) that provides a social safety net for society. Thus Bobbitt places himself completely in line with the political right’s agenda. Moreover, while holding the Christian banner aloft, he that Christianity betrays. For he willingly places corporate business interests above the welfare of the people. In my understanding of the scriptures, Bobbitt’s model is not a Christian model—it is in fact the antithesis of Christianity. (In this I agree with Jimmy Carter.)
One of the more astonishing statements I came across in Bobbitt’s discussion and praise for the entrepreneurial market-state is this:
“The Entrepreneurial Model tends to loosen the identification that citizens feel with the larger polity: autonomy and individual achievement are so prized and the consumption of particular goods so meaningful an act of self-definition that the citizens of these states ‘invent’ their citizenships, identifying themselves with those subgroups within the state with whom they share a consumption pattern.” (Page 670.)
Mr. Bobbitt has just described corporate heaven! But in reality, Bobbitt is envisioning a Faustian perversity, for he replaces Faust’s vision of a free people standing on free land—the American ideal—with a vision of citizens identifying with their peers based on each other’s pattern of purchases. Faust was willing to give his eternal soul for his vision of freedom. What price does Bobbitt and the religious-right pay for their vision I wonder?
Let’s look at another vision. This one is based in fear. Bobbitt regards terrorist groups as “virtual states.” What an incredible elevation of the Mafia concept. We are asked to accept superpower equivalence for those criminals who have the imagination to network! Hence the war against the virtual state can last 100 years or more. Bobbitt’s emersion in war and his fear of attacks blinds him to issues of what is moral in warfare. He lumps retaliatory military strikes by the U.S. for an attack upon the U.S. with pre-emptive strikes against an alleged enemy.
I want to contrast two passages. One is written by Bobbitt, the other by Mr. Bush’s writers. First Mr. Bobbitt:
“…[N]uclear weapons strategy, clandestine intelligence collection, and covert action sometimes require a level of secrecy that is incompatible with open government or even the relation between parliamentary oversight and the citizenry that links government to the people…It is simply absurd to think that a system of nuclear deterrence could be maintained if the president had to go to Congress for a declaration of war before launching a retaliatory or pre-emptive strike.” (p. 235)
In September, 2002, Mr. Bush delivered a document to congress titled, “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” In it congressmen read:
“For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack….We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means…Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning…To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”
Mr. Bush needs war. Mr. Bobbitt sells the idea of the necessity of war in this quote:
“There is a widespread view that war is simply a pathology of the State, that healthy states will not fight wars. This view ignores the role strategy plays in the formation and continuance of states. War, like law, sustains the State by giving it the means to carry out its purposes of protection, preservation, and defense.” (p. 780)
How Machiavellian Mr. Bobbitt sounds. Peace is bad for us. And war is not only good—it’s a necessity.
I would add this: Mr. Bush’s April, 2004 press conference brought a new vision I had not heard before: “America” he said, “is called to bring freedom and liberty to the people of the world.” It immediately reminded me of Pat Robertson’s phrases. The words “liberty” and “freedom” had special meaning to him and to “Christians” like Patrick Henry: “Liberty carries a heavy responsibility. It demands Christian self government…” (This definition was offered on the 700 Club on July 1, 1986.)
Does Mr. Bush mean that the U.S. will preemptively invade other “heathen” and “uncivilized” nations and establish “Christian” governments over them? Maybe.
Lastly, in closing his book, Philip Bobbitt reiterates his own uppermost emotion: “We are entering a fearful time, a time that will call on all our resources, moral as well as intellectual and material…” He then closes his amazing work with this:
“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year: ‘Give me a light, that I might tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’” (p. 823)
As a Christian, I always thought that God was light or illumination and this is particularly true because Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." I also took to heart Psalm 23: where we are taught “to fear no evil.” In the end, all that Philip Bobbitt has is the fact that he is surrounded by darkness. He has placed his hand in the hand of someone he thought was God, but he cannot really see who it is that is holding his hand.
Pity the nation that submerges itself in fear and its rhetoric. Americans and the British did not get through WWII by dwelling on fear. They did not overcome their enemies by cowering in the darkness and placing their hands in the hand of an unknown stranger. They won because they overcame their fears and outfought their enemies. That is our task once again. These are not “fearful” times. These are the days of creativity and courage. Since when has any nation trembled before a handful of criminals? Call them what you may—Pirates? Outlaws? Gangs? Or Goliath? They have never had a future much less a projection of a hundred years of successful criminality. Our world has never been safe from dangers: mankind has been subjected to earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, diseases, accidents, and has not death visited both the young and old? But civilization keeps marching on. Let us never follow false leaders into the valley of fear ever again.
 The doctrine that Christians should seek worldly power and use it to dominate the culture of any country they occupy was first expressed by Pat Robertson on his 700 Club show in the 1980’s. On his 700 Club television show (5-1-86) Robertson said: “God’s plan is for His people, ladies and gentlemen to take dominion…What is dominion? Well, dominion is Lordship. He wants His people to reign and rule with Him…but He’s waiting for us to…extend His dominion…And the Lord says, ‘I’m going to let you redeem society. There’ll be a reformation….We are not going to stand for those coercive utopians in the Supreme Court and in Washington ruling over us any more. We’re not gonna stand for it. We are going to say, ‘we want freedom in this country, and we want power…’” Robertson said on his program the 700 Club (5-13-86): “We’ve sat idly by long enough and said, ‘Well religion and politics don’t mix.’ Don’t you believe it. If we don’t have moral people in government then the only other people that can be in government are immoral. That’s the only way it goes. Either you have moral people in there or you have immoral people.”
 The Council for National Policy (CNP) was founded in 1981 when Timothy LaHaye (author of the Left Behind series) became the organization's first president. LaHaye is credited with the idea of the organization. The CNP has been cloaked in secrecy since its inception. The organization holds three meetings each year to plan the strategy for implementing its agenda. The activists meet with their financial backers who put up the money to execute the agenda of the institution. The membership list and any speeches made to the members are kept in strict secrecy. White House officials have appeared before the group, including President Bush, but their remarks have been held in secrecy. The Yurica Report obtained a list of members from several years prior that reveal the heavy weights in the Christian and hard right dominionist movement. Here is a sample: Gary Bauer, Pat Boone, Grover Norquist, Dr. Gary North and R. J. Rushdoony, (North's father-in-law, the founder of the Christian Reconstructionist and Dominionist movement), Lt. Col. Oliver North, Pat Robertson, James Robinson, Howard J. Ruff, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Howard Ahmanson, Jr., Phyllis Schlafly, Bob Jones, III, Jack Kemp, Alan Keyes, Dr. James Kennedy, Beverly LaHaye, Tim LaHaye, Marlin Maddoux, Peter Marshall, Jr., Dr. James Dobson, Jeffrey Coors, Joseph Coors, Bill Bright, Major General John K. Singlaub, Lt. General Gordon Sumner, Jerry Falwell, Father Charles Fiore, Alan Gottlieb, Lt. General Daniel O. Graham, Edwin Meese, Paul Weyrich, John W. Whitehead, Rev. DonaldWildmon, Pierre du Pont, Ann Drexel, Arnaud deBorchgrave, Richard DeVos, Terry Dolan, Sen. William Dannemeyer, Jesse Helms, etc.
 This latter point of an all-volunteer military may appear to be a surprising inclusion. However, it's worth looking at the dangers of an all-volunteer military. Dr. M. Scott Peck in his book The People of the Lie writes : “A draft--involuntary service--is the only thing that can keep our military sane. Without it the military will inevitably become not only specialized in its function but increasingly specialized in its pyschology. No fresh air will be let in. It will become inbred and reinforce its own values, and then, when it is once again let loose, it will run amok as it did in Vietnam. A draft is a painful thing. But so are insurance premiums; and involuntary service is the only way we have of ensuring the sanity of our military ‘left hand.’The point is that if we must have a military at all, it should hurt. As a people we should not toy with the means of mass destruction without being willing to personally bear the responsibility of wielding them. If we must kill, let us not select and train hired killers to do the dirty job for us and then forget that there's any blood involved. If we must kill, then let us honestly suffer the agony involved ourselves. Otherwise we will insulate ourselves from our own deeds, and as a whole people we will become like the individuals described in previous sections: evil. For evil arises in the refusal to acknowledge our own sins.” (At page 232)
Katherine Yurica was educated at East Los Angeles College, the University of Southern California and the USC school of law. She worked as a consultant for Los Angeles County and as a news correspondent for Christianity Today plus as a freelance investigative reporter. She is the author of three books. She is also the publisher of the Yurica Report.
seemslikeadream » Wed May 18, 2011 8:52 pm wrote:Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Founder Erik Prince’s Private Army of “Christian Crusaders” in the UAE
Revealed: Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for ‘biblical warfare’
The group ‘Team Rugged’ offers ‘patriotic and biblical training’ that includes instruction on how to use knives and guns
Republican Washington state politician Matt Shea made videos in support of a group offering training to young men in ‘biblical warfare’.
The Republican politician Matt Shea connected close allies with a group offering training to young men in “biblical warfare” that includes how to use knives, pistols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teachings of a Georgia-based neo-Confederate pastor, emails obtained by the Guardian reveal.
Shea, who is an elected Washington state representative, later made videos in support of the group, and appeared alongside them at a gathering at a religious community in remote eastern Washington. He also paid the founder of the group money from his campaign fund in 2018.
The emails, sent in July 2016, begin with an email from Patrick Caughran, who presents himself as the founder of a training group called Team Rugged. They were provided to the Guardian by a former Shea associate who was copied in on the exchange.
Caughran asks Shea to publicize a link to the group’s Facebook page, and put him in touch with “John Jacob Schmidt”, the nom de guerre of Shea associate, Jack Robertson. Robertson is a rightwing podcast host who advocates for conservatives to move to the “American Redoubt” in eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana, and, with Shea, campaigns for eastern Washington to secede and form its own state.
On Team Rugged website, it is described as “a Christian organization that strongly believes in building manly character and the capability to stand in adversity in young men”.
In his email to Shea, however, Caughran offers a different description, saying that the group exists “to provide patriotic and biblical training on war for young men”.
He continues: “Everything about it is both politically incorrect and what would be considered shocking truth to most modern Christians.”
Republican discussed violent attacks and surveillance with rightwingers
Caughran also wrote: “There will be scenarios where every participant will have to fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists (sic)”.
Caughran goes on to detail the group’s training regime, writing that “there will be biblical teaching (some taken from pastor John Weaver’s works) on biblical warfare, the responsibilities, regulations, principles and mindset. So that our young men will be better prepared to fight against physical enemies, and to do so, God’s way and with His blessing”.
The Georgia-based Weaver is a controversial preacher whom the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a “leading proponent for training Christians for armed battle”.
As well as being a preacher, Weaver is a firearms instructor, and according to the SPLC has given weapons training to members of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group which marched at the far-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 that ended in the death of a protester.
White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, 12 August 2017. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP
In his email to Shea, Caughran goes on to list weapons training as part of the event for attendees. The training will “show them how to work better as a team, both in achieving physically demanding tasks and on the battlefield. Those who attend will learn combatives, the use of a knife in defense, close quarters shooting with rifle and pistol and how to work effectively in teams of 2, 3 and 4.”
In response to the request for Facebook promotion, Shea responds, from an address associated with his law practice, “It is scheduled to post tomorrow”. He then forwards it to Robertson aka John Jacob Schmidt, writing, “See below. From Marble meeting. JJS he wants to connect with you”.
An LLC called Team Rugged was registered in Washington in 2017 under the name of Michael P Caughran, 23, a resident of Colville, Washington, the seat of Stevens county. The email address in the filing is similar to the one that Caughran used to communicate with Shea.
In filing materials the business is described as providing “OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG MEN AND BOYS TO INCREASE THEIR GOOD CHARACTER AND SKILLS TO PERFORM IN TEAMS AND LEADERSHIP ROLES”. The business filed its most recent annual report in August 2018.
An initial filing for the LLC lists the executors of the company, including Barry Byrd, the pastor of Marble Community fellowship, as well as Lucas Olson and Michael Caughran, both of Lewiston, Idaho.
Marble Community Fellowship is a Christian community led by pastor Barry Byrd , with a compound on the Columbia River, not far from the Canadian border. It believes in rule by their interpretations of biblical law.
As of late July 2019, Team Rugged’s website listed Byrd as an instructor along with Caughran. The Team Rugged Facebook page listed several events in recent years at the Marble compound, including battles with Airsoft guns. Pictures on the Team Rugged website show young boys in fatigues in the forest, armed with Airsoft guns.
In 2018, representative Shea was revealed to have distributed a document entitled “Biblical Basis for War”, which appeared to lay out a plan for a theocratic takeover, including the instruction to “kill all males”. Shea denied this interpretation of the document, saying instead that the material was notes for a sermon.
In 2015, the year before the Team Rugged email from Caughran, Weaver appeared alongside Shea at the annual God and Country celebration at Marble.
Last May, the Guardian revealed that at the 2018 God and Country event, Shea warned of civil unrest while Robertson urged the audience to prepare for civil war.
In a video posted to his Facebook page, Shea interviews Team Rugged at the 2017 God and Country event, where he described the group as “returning to basic patriot principles”.
Matt Shea walks off the house floor to attend a caucus meeting, 22 April 2019, at the capitol in Olympia, Washington. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP
Shea, who rarely speaks to the media, and once called journalists “dirty, godless, hateful people”, did not respond to detailed questions sent via email.
Caughran did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Longtime Shea critic, and Republican, the Spokane county sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, said in a telephone conversation that “it almost sounds like going back to the Hitler Youth concept”.
Knezovich added: “There are lines that should never crossed. When you indoctrinate children in radicalized hate, then we wonder why we have the kind of shootings and bombings that we have around the world.”
A spokesman for the Washington Republican minority leader, JT Wilcox, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since the Guardian’s previous revelations about Shea’s involvement in private chats, and his appearances on podcasts and public events, Washington’s state house has commenced an investigation into his activities, and has hired an outside firm to investigate Shea’s associations with political violence.
View on theguardian.com
https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/ ... ssion=true
Leaked emails reveal that Washington state rep Matt Shea has "close ties" with Team Rugged, a white nationalist/Christian fundamentalist terror organization that trains children, teens and young men to fight in an apocalyptic race-war against Muslims and communists.
In a leaked email, Team Rugged leader Patrick Caughran describes its mission as "[providing] patriotic and biblical training on war for young men...There will be scenarios where every participant will have to fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists." The training included knife, pistol and rifle combat.
Team Rugged's ideology comes from the white nationalist preacher John Weaver, whose writings glorified the Confederacy and slavery and condemns "interracial" marriage.
Shea had already openly supported Team Rugged and appeared with child soldiers the group had trained in promotional videos, praising their training, saying, "I love the fact that you guys looked like almost an acrobatic special-forces team out there." Shea had also acknowledged his authorship of "Biblical Basis for War," a manifesto calling for a "holy war" (he denied that it was a manifesto and claimed instead that it was a "sermon" about "war in the Old Testament").
However, leaked emails and messages from Team Rugged's Facebook group have revealed that Shea's ties with the group run deeper than suspected. The state House of Reps has hired private investigators to produce a report on Shea's promotion of terrorism.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has urged fellow Republicans to denounce Shea as an extremist, compared Team Rugged to the Hitler Youth of Nazi Germany.
“Any radicalization of youth in such a manner would be very comparable,” Knezovich said in a text message Wednesday.
Shea, who rarely speaks to the media, had not publicly responded to the reporting on Team Rugged as of Wednesday evening.
On Facebook Wednesday, he shared a blog post about Washington’s new Democratic House speaker, writing: “THE CURRENT DIRECTION OF WASHINGTON IS DECIDEDLY ANTI-CHRISTIAN.”
Leaked emails show Washington state Rep. Matt Shea endorsed training children to fight in holy war [Chad Sokol/Seattle Times]
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Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence - dozens of current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear & self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world, by @BrandonAmbro
When Jerry Falwell Jr. took over as president in 2007, the school, which is a nonprofit, had listed assets of just over $259 million on its then most recent IRS Form 990; in its filing for fiscal year ending June 2017, its assets surpassed $2.5 billion.
Asset growth at Liberty under Falwell Jr is driven largely by increase in online students (approx 95000), there are concerns about tuition $ funding construction & real estate projects that enrich the Falwells & friends and blur nonprofit & business lines
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... ans-227914 …‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence
More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world.
By BRANDON AMBROSINOSeptember 09, 2019
Brandon Ambrosino is a writer living in Delaware. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic and the BBC, among others.
At Liberty University, all anyone can talk about is Jerry Falwell Jr. Just not in public.
“When he does stupid stuff, people will mention it to others they consider confidants and not keep it totally secret,” a trusted adviser to Falwell, the school’s president and chancellor, told me. “But they won’t rat him out.”
That’s beginning to change.
Over the past year, Falwell, a prominent evangelical leader and supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under increasing scrutiny. News outlets have reported on business deals by Liberty University benefiting Falwell’s friends. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell clean up racy “personal” photographs.
Based on scores of new interviews and documents obtained for this article, concerns about Falwell’s behavior go well beyond that—and it’s causing longtime, loyal Liberty University officials to rapidly lose faith in him.
More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell spoke to me or provided documents for this article, opening up—for the first time at an institution so intimately associated with the Falwell family—about what they’ve experienced and why they don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement.
In interviews over the past eight months, they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.
“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
Liberty employees detailed other instances of Falwell’s behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school’s founder and Falwell Jr.’s father, and his Moral Majority.
In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the run-up to Trump’s presidential campaign, Cohen hired John Gauger, a Liberty University employee who runs a private consulting firm, to manipulate online polls in Trump’s favor. Not previously reported is the fact that, according to a half-dozen high-level Liberty University sources, when Gauger traveled to New York to collect payment from Cohen, he was joined by Trey Falwell, a vice president at Liberty. During that trip, Trey posted a now-deleted photo to Instagram of around $12,000 in cash spread on a hotel bed, raising questions about his knowledge of Gauger’s poll-rigging work. Trey did not respond to requests for comment.
Jerry Falwell Jr. responded to more than two dozen written questions, defending his actions and criticizing the reporting of this article. “I fear that the true information I am sharing in good faith will simply not make any difference. And will only result in more questions,” Falwell said. He declined to answer subsequent questions.
The string of news articles over the past several months has had a minimal effect on Falwell’s leadership of Liberty University. As the namesake of the school’s founder, Falwell has never had his position seriously challenged. Liberty is thriving financially. Its enrollment has surged past 110,000 students—the vast majority of whom are enrolled online—and across its campus in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the hum of backhoes and bulldozers is omnipresent as construction crews work to keep pace with the university’s swelling ambitions.
But these new revelations speak to rising discontent with Falwell’s stewardship. The people interviewed for this article include members of Liberty’s board of trustees, senior university officials, and rank-and-file staff members who work closely with Falwell. They are reluctant to speak out—there’s no organized, open dissent to Falwell on campus—but they said they see it as necessary to save Liberty University and the values it once stood for. They said they believe in the Christian tradition and in the conservative politics at the heart of Liberty’s mission. Many knew Jerry Falwell Sr. and remember him with clear affection. “The day that man died was the day I lost a father,” one current university official said. All count themselves as conservatives. Many are strong supporters of Trump.
Jerry Falwell Jr. gestures while speaking as his wife, Becki, listens during a town hall at Liberty University on Nov. 28, 2018. | AP Photo/Steve Helber
I am a graduate of Liberty University, and my time there overlapped the tenures of both Falwell Sr. and his son. Over the course of my years of reporting on the university, the Falwells have granted me considerable access, including sit-down interviews in the offices of both Falwell Jr. and his brother, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, who leads Thomas Road Baptist Church. I’ve written candidly about my time there as a student, reported about political divisions on campus and revealed that Trey co-owns a gay-friendly hostel in Miami.
Members of the Liberty University community are generally reluctant to go on the record. The school uses nondisclosure agreements to prohibit many university employees or board members from openly discussing what they’ve seen Falwell do. (“All trustees sign a confidentiality agreement that does not expire at the close of Board service,” Liberty’s attorney told board members in an email that was sent earlier this month after the school received inquiries from reporters on some of the issues outlined in this article.) Tenure and its protections are not available to Liberty faculty members outside the law school. If you teach or work at Liberty, you must get approval from Falwell’s office before you speak to the media. Talk to reporters without his approval—or publicly criticize him, even obliquely—and you could lose your job. If you’re a board member and do the same, you could get forced out, even if you have unimpeachable credentials in the Christian conservative movement.
“It’s a dictatorship,” one current high-level employee of the school said. “Nobody craps at the university without Jerry’s approval.”
“Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear,” said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications. The fear is not limited to Liberty’s campus. Several people who lack any tie to Liberty but live in the school’s hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, refused to go on the record for this story, fearing Falwell would take revenge upon them and their families. “Fear is probably his most powerful weapon,” a former senior university official said.
But even those who fear have their breaking points.
In speaking out, said one longtime current university employee with close ties to the school’s first family, “I feel like I’m betraying them in some way. But someone’s gotta tell the freakin’ truth.”
“We’re talking about the difference between right and wrong,” a current high-ranking university official said. “Not even ‘being a Christian,’ but being a good person, versus people who manipulate the system”
Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. looks around the inside of an auxiliary sanctuary at the new Thomas Road Baptist Church in June 2006. | AP Photo/Steve Helber
PART I: The Kingdom
Long before his May 2007 death, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.—the Baptist preacher who founded Liberty University and whose creation of the Moral Majority marked the emergence of white evangelical conservatives as a national political force—made clear how he wanted the empire he’d built to be divided when the time came.
His two sons, Jerry Jr. and Jonathan, had each inherited different aspects of their father’s persona. For Jerry Jr., the elder of the two by four years, it was the stomach for partisan politics, ability to throw an elbow and the savvy to court influential friends. For Jonathan, it was the calling to ministry, his easy way with people and charisma as a public speaker. Jerry Jr. would preside over Liberty University, and Jonathan would lead Thomas Road Baptist Church. Each son had worked under their father at the respective institutions; each knew well what those positions would require.
A bigger question remained: Who would step into Falwell Sr.’s unique role as a national figurehead at the crossroads of evangelical Christianity and conservative politics—a man who counted presidents and senators as friends, a public figure whose outspoken statements riled critics and endeared him to conservatives, and whose endorsement carried real weight with a certain segment of voters?
Jerry Falwell Jr. and Jonathan Fallwell with Mike Huckabee
Left: Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Right: At Thomas Road Baptist Church, Rev. Jonathan Falwell introduces then-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in Feb. 2008. | AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, AP PHOTO/The News & Advance, Jill Nance
After the death of Falwell Sr., many within his tight-knit community expected Jonathan to pick up the mantle. A preacher by training, Jonathan had pastoral sensitivities and a personable nature that his brother Jerry lacked.
“Jonathan’s a great speaker and orator, a people person,” one current top Liberty employee close to the Falwell family told me. “Jerry can’t complete a sentence in person. … He’s nervous. It’s just not him, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
But Jerry had a passion for politics, a talent for riling up a certain type of cultural conservative and a spouse, Becki, who, while publicly playing the role of the quiet, supportive, Baptist housewife, knew how to get her way.
“You know, there’s a head of every family,” said a former university employee who worked closely with Becki Falwell for many years. “But what turns the head? The neck. She’s the neck that turns the head wherever she wants it.”
“Until Big Jerry died, you wouldn’t have known [Becki] if she walked up and slapped you,” said a former longtime Liberty official. “Big Jerry dies, and all of a sudden, [if] you’re walking down the hall and you didn’t greet her right, you’re fired.” As if to underline this point, one longtime university employee shared a 2012 email in which Becki contacted four school executives at 7:06 p.m. to complain that a low-level university employee had posted a Facebook status on her personal account criticizing a lack of adequate parking on campus. “Someone needs to talk to this girl. I don’t think that we allow employees to post negative remarks about Liberty,” Becki wrote to the school officials in a message that included a screenshot of the employee’s post. Shortly before 9:00 p.m., one senior official replied, “We are attempting to call her at home right now.” The woman in question did not respond to requests for comment, but according to her Facebook profile, she is no longer an employee of Liberty University.
In an email obtained for this article, Becki Falwell tells several high-level Liberty officials that "someone needs to talk to" a low-level university employee who complained about parking availability on campus in a post on her personal Facebook feed. (Email addresses and surname of employee have been redacted.)
In an email obtained for this article, Becki Falwell tells several high-level Liberty officials that "someone needs to talk to" a low-level university employee who complained about parking availability on campus in a post on her personal Facebook feed. (Email addresses and surname of employee have been redacted.) | Obtained by Brandon Ambrosino
A half-dozen people with inside knowledge of the Falwell family said that, after Falwell’s death, Becki pushed to shrink Jonathan’s role at the university—a move current and former Liberty officials described as the start of Jerry and Becki consolidating power.
Right after his father died, Jonathan held a position with Liberty University that was limited but which allowed him “to make sure [Liberty] kept its compass,” as one former longtime Liberty official put it. According to a 2008 statement announcing Jonathan’s appointment as the school’s vice chancellor for spiritual affairs, his responsibilities would include upholding the “doctrinal integrity of the university” and advising his brother on “matters of faith.”
“We need to make sure … that we never go in any direction that we as a university shouldn’t go,” Jonathan said in the statement at the time. “That’s the area that I’m going to focus on and do everything I can to ensure that my dad’s life’s work stays continuing to fulfill the mission that he had in 1971,” the year the university was formed.
But now, top Liberty officials say Jonathan doesn’t hold any sway—spiritual or otherwise—over the university that grew out of the church he leads. “As a general rule,” said a former high-ranking university official with longstanding ties to Liberty and the Falwell family, Falwell Sr. “spoke every Wednesday in [convocation] all year long. His desire was that whoever was the pastor of Thomas Road would [continue the tradition and] speak at Liberty. I think Jonathan speaks … maybe a few times per year.”
“Jerry never removed Jonathan,” a former top Liberty official said. “He just kind of pushed him aside.” For one, Jerry used Liberty’s abundant resources to bring his father’s diffuse properties under his control. “He bought all the [Thomas Road Baptist Church] properties, [Liberty Christian Academy], Jonathan’s building at the airport, and a couple of others. Jonathan complained but never stood up to [Jerry] because he knew [Jerry] controlled the purse strings,” the former top official said. Jonathan did not respond to requests for comment.
While longtime confidants of the Falwell family make clear that Becki loves Jonathan—“they’re family after all,” said one former longtime Liberty employee—many feel that she worked hard to make sure that everyone knew it was her husband, and not her brother-in-law, who would assume the elder Falwell’s mantle as a leading figurehead in the conservative evangelical movement. Becki’s message to Jerry, one high-ranking university official said, was simple: You are Jerry Falwell Junior.
As in: the new Jerry Falwell—the new leader of the Religious Right.
A Liberty student prays during convocation at the university in February 2013. | AP/Norm Shafer
Liberty University has transformed under Jerry Falwell Jr.’s leadership. When he took over as president in 2007, the school, which is a nonprofit, had listed assets of just over $259 million on its then most recent IRS Form 990; in its filing for the fiscal year ending in June 2017, its assets surpassed $2.5 billion. That number is now more than $3 billion, according to public statements Falwell made in 2018.
That growth is driven largely by a vast increase in the number of online students at the school, who now number some 95,000. Many Falwell confidants are concerned with where they see that university tuition money going: into university-funded construction and real estate projects that enrich the Falwell family and their friends.
Among these projects is a Lynchburg shopping center that is owned by Liberty University but which members of the Falwell family have a personal financial stake in operating, according to emails obtained by me.
In an email dated July 18, 2012, Falwell informed several university executives that his son, Trey Falwell, was “starting a new company to do the management” of properties owned by the school, including the shopping center. Trey Falwell, whose given name is Jerry Falwell III, is now a vice president of Liberty University. On August 7, 2012, Trey registered that privately owned company, JF Management LLC, with Campbell County, Virginia. As the address of its principal office, he gave the location of a house where he and his wife, Sarah, resided.
In a July 2012 email obtained for this article, Jerry Falwell Jr. tells several high-ranking Liberty University officials that his son, Trey, is starting a new company to manage a property owned by the school. (Email addresses, phone number and names of cc-ed employees have been redacted by Politico.)
In a July 2012 email obtained for this article, Jerry Falwell Jr. tells several high-ranking Liberty University officials that his son, Trey, is starting a new company to manage a property owned by the school. (Email addresses, phone number and names of cc-ed employees have been redacted by Politico.) | Obtained by Brandon Ambrosino
Experts on tax law and nonprofit organizations said that having the president of a nonprofit university directing university business to a company led by his son would be troubling.
“It raises red flags to have your kids being able to profit off the activities of the organization,” said Philip Hackney, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School who specializes in taxation and nonprofit management. As a general matter of law, “a nonprofit director or officer owes a ‘duty of loyalty’ to the nonprofit. What this means is he cannot take unfair advantage of the nonprofit he controls to his advantage.”
It’s the responsibility of nonprofit leaders to look out for the best interests of their organization, Hackney said, and as a standard practice, those leaders should be able to show how their financial transactions further the nonprofit’s mission in some way.
Asked how the property-management arrangement furthers Liberty’s mission, Falwell said the shopping center was donated to the school in poor condition. “Frankly, there are fewer professional property managers who would be interested in running it for us.”
A stone’s throw from the shopping center is a LaQuinta Inn whose ownership also raises questions about whether Falwell is directing business to family and friends.
The LaQuinta is owned by Comeback Inn LLC, which is registered to Chris Doyle, who manages real estate for the university. In a December 2018 affidavit, Falwell Jr. described Doyle as his “partner in … real estate ventures in Virginia.” Multiple current and former university officials with knowledge of the LaQuinta arrangement said Trey Falwell is a silent shareholder in Comeback Inn.
In an email responding to questions, Doyle declined to discuss the issue. “If my personal and business relationships are of value and interest to the public, I should write a book and [see] no reason to comment at this time,” Doyle said.
Emails obtained for this article show that on at least one occasion, university employees were asked to promote the LaQuinta on the school’s website—what several current and former high-ranking Liberty officials and employees described as part of a process where the school “funnels business” to the hotel.
Falwell denied having a financial interest in Comeback Inn. “I have not financially benefitted from Comeback Inn’s business and I have never owned any interest in Comeback Inn, LLC,” Falwell said in a statement. He did not answer for his son. “I will let Trey Falwell respond separately on his own behalf if he has any comment regarding your question.” Trey Falwell did not respond to requests for comment.
“What I have found over the years is if something doesn’t make sense and Jerry really wants it to happen, he in some form or fashion has a personal interest,” said a current high-ranking Liberty employee with knowledge of Falwell’s financial dealings.
A large, boxy building on Liberty University's campus
The line between where the Falwell family’s wealth begins and Liberty’s finances end is blurry.
University officials describe Liberty loaning money to the Falwells’ friends, even when these loans arguably are not in the school’s financial interests. According to emails and loan documents obtained for this article, in 2014, the university gave loans of at least $200,000 to Prototype Tourism LLC, a “destination marketing” company founded by Liberty graduate Josh Oppenheimer, whom Jerry Falwell Jr. described to me as “a friendly supporter.” According to emails I’ve reviewed, several high-ranking Liberty officials knew about the loan, including Vice President Trey Falwell. The graduate had difficulty repaying the loan—“not surprised,” Trey wrote in an email.
When asked about the loan, Jerry Falwell Jr. clarified the school’s role with Prototype Tourism. “Liberty University was not simply a lender, but was a minority investor in Prototype Tourism, LLC,” he wrote. Falwell described the company’s goal as promoting tourism to Lynchburg. “Due diligence was performed by multiple individuals who discussed the pros and cons and the consensus was that it was worthwhile to proceed,” Falwell wrote. “In the end, I reluctantly agreed with the recommendation and allowed the transaction to proceed. In hindsight, it was not a good decision. … LU lost its investment and the loan portion of the deal was only partially paid back.”
Other loans were precursors to massive contracts. In 2013, Robert Moon, a friend of Falwell’s with deep family ties to the Falwells, founded Construction Management Associates Inc., a construction company devoted to work on and around campus. Previously unreported is the fact that Liberty gave Moon a loan of $750,000 to form the company before awarding it more than $130 million in contracts and selling it land owned by the university.
When I described this arrangement to Hackney, the associate professor at Pitt Law, he said: “This is not standard or good practice. … A nonprofit that is not in the business of loaning money has little reason to be conducting such activity. It raises issues of whether these are in fact charitable activities that further the nonprofit’s mission.”
Asked whether such loans were a common practice for the university, Falwell wrote in an email that “Liberty has considered investments in other local start-up businesses that would help the University’s business model and the local economy.”
“On the other hand,” Falwell continued, “Liberty University has one of the largest unrestricted endowments in the nation and frequently invests in hundreds, if not thousands, of companies across the world purely for the return on investment whether the company has any nexus to Liberty’s mission or not. The same is true of every major university.”
Moreover, Falwell continued, “I have not personally benefited financially from CMA’s or any other contractor’s work for Liberty University nor has any member of my family.”
At the outset, some in Falwell’s inner circle were not so confident in the arrangement with Moon. Before his CMA Inc. became Liberty’s go-to contractor, the school bid out its construction work through an office on campus. (“Free enterprise tends to do pretty well,” one high-ranking university official said.) The prospect of changing that—giving CMA control over campus construction and its associated costs—rankled some senior university officials.
Early on in the CMA partnership, before CMA became the university’s single-largest contractor, Charles Spence, the school’s then-vice president of planning and construction, expressed unease about the high costs Moon was quoting for certain school projects. “Jerry I am very concerned about cost control on all the projects,” he wrote to Falwell in a November 2014 email. “Over the last couple of weeks we have had a lot of meetings and conversations on cost and cost overruns. We are just seeing the information begin to trickle in and there really don’t seem to be good answers just a response that the cost we are seeing are fair, and being handled appropriately.”
“I hope that I am over reacting,” Spence continued, “but I assure you I am concerned.”
“I am fine with going back to bidding every project out if CMA can’t run with the big dogs!” Falwell replied. “Let’s hold their feet to the fire!”
In each of the two years that followed, Liberty paid CMA more than $62 million, part of at least $138 million in contracts from Liberty since the company was formed, according to publicly available tax documents.
Senior Liberty officials might whisper about the propriety of these business deals, but they told me that Falwell’s decisions on campus are rarely ever challenged by the school’s board of trustees. “There’s no accountability,” a former high-ranking university officer said. “Jerry’s got pretty free reign to wheel and deal professionally and personally. The board will approve an annual budget, but beyond that … he doesn’t go to the board to get approval. … It simply doesn’t happen.”
In his statement, Falwell said he and Moon “are on friendly terms and [have] interacted socially in past years but neither of us would list the other on their list of close friends and associates. It is completely a typical arms-length business relationship.”
But there is evidence to the contrary—much of it documented on the Falwells’ own social media accounts.
In June 2013, for instance, the year CMA was formed, Falwell shared a photo on Instagram showing him, Becki and Trey joining Moon for a cruise down the James River on Moon’s private boat. When asked about the photographs, Falwell admitted to joining Moon on his boat “about five or six times.” “These afternoon outings did not cause me to lose my negotiation skills or abandon my fiduciary duties to enter into deals in the interest of the University,” Falwell wrote.
An Instagram post from Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Instagram account of him on a boat with Becki Falwell and Robert Moon
In this June 2013 Instagram post by Jerry Falwell Jr,. Falwell and his wife Becki pose for a photograph with Robert Moon during a boat ride on the James River. | Instagram: jerryfalwelljr
In July 2014, Falwell, Trey and Moon traveled to Miami together. Falwell said in his statement that he recalls “discussing University business” on the trip.
During the trip, photos were taken of Jerry and Trey Falwell partying at a Miami nightclub—photos that multiple Liberty University officials said Jerry Falwell tried to make disappear.
A photo inside of the club, WALL, in Miami Beach, Florida.
In this July 19, 2014, photo from Miami Beach's WALL nightclub, Jerry Falwell Jr. (circled here in red) can be seen among the clubgoers. | Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com
PART II: The Fixer
On July 19, 2014, popular Swedish DJ John Dahlbäck performed at Wall, a nightclub in Miami Beach, Fla. That night, the club happened to have a photographer on-site to grab candid shots of the revelry. The photos were shared online by World Red Eye, an outlet that documents Miami’s nightlife scene, and Jerry and Trey Falwell were visible in some of the pictures—the outlet identified Trey by name.
In a statement on August 21, Jerry Falwell denied the existence of any photo of him at the club. “There was no picture snapped of me at WALL nightclub or any other nightclub,” Falwell wrote. “I’m sure you already knew that though.”
When told that I had obtained a photo of him for this article, Falwell said I was “terribly mistaken.” “If you show me the picture, I can probably help you out,” he wrote. “I think you are making some incorrect assumptions, or have been told false things or are seeing something that was photo--shopped.”
After I sent him the photo, as well as a photo of Trey at Wall, Falwell responded: “I never asked anyone to get rid of any pictures on the internet of me and I never have seen the picture you claim is of me below. If the person in the picture is me, it was likely photo-shopped.” In a second email sent 23 minutes later, Falwell wrote: “But the bigger question, Brandon, is why would I want a picture like that taken down if I had seen it?”
Left: A zoomed-in close-up of Jerry Falwell Jr. in the crowd at WALL nightclub in Miami Beach, taken from the photo at the start of this section. Right: Also at the club that night were Trey Falwell and his wife, Sarah.
Left: A zoomed-in close-up of Jerry Falwell Jr. in the crowd at WALL nightclub in Miami Beach, taken from the photo at the start of this section. Right: Also at the club that night were Trey Falwell and his wife, Sarah. | Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com
According to several people with direct knowledge of the situation, Falwell—the president of a conservative Christian college that frowns upon co-ed dancing (Liberty students can receive demerits if seen doing it) and prohibits alcohol use (for which students can be expelled)—was angry that photos of him clubbing made it up online. To remedy the situation, multiple Liberty staffers said Falwell went to John Gauger, whom they characterized as his “IT guy,” and asked him to downgrade the photos’ prominence on Google searches. Gauger did not respond to requests for comment.
Gauger has worked at Liberty since earning his MBA from the school in 2009. In 2016, he was promoted to become the school’s chief information officer about a year and a half after he was named deputy CIO. To several university sources, his rapid rise to the C-suite was shocking.
“I’m not being disrespectful, but John was a nobody,” one longtime Liberty official said. “And the next thing you know, he’s high up in IT.”
Longtime Liberty officials describe Gauger as a sort of fixer for Falwell, a man promoted because he would do what Falwell asked of him without complaint. But Gauger is more than just a university employee: Since 2009, Gauger has also run RedFinch LLC, an online business he founded that specializes in search-engine marketing and does lucrative contract work for Liberty. Tax records show Liberty paid RedFinch $123,950 during 2016, for what sources described as search-engine recruitment of online students for the university. Gauger did not respond to requests for comment.
RedFinch’s online work for the school goes beyond typical SEO marketing. In an email from August 2013 obtained for this article, Falwell asked Gauger to defend him in the comments section of a local news article that Falwell felt reflected too negatively on him. Falwell even emailed Gauger the exact wording to post.
“I’m having my RedFinch guys blow this up right away,” Gauger responded. “I’ll tell you how it goes.”
When Falwell told Gauger a different employee already chimed into the conversation, Gauger insisted that he’d “have a few accounts turn the conversation elsewhere just for good measure.”
According to several longtime Liberty employees, it’s extremely unusual for university employees to be allowed to own side businesses that do contract work for the school. “I’ve always had a problem with RedFinch because there never was any clear and distinct lines,” one former Liberty employee told me. “You can’t work at Liberty 8-5 on the clock and get paid from somebody else for the same hours.”
Multiple university officials said Gauger is very close, both personally and professionally, with the Falwells, especially Trey. At Liberty, Gauger reports to Trey, and Trey answers only to his dad.
In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2014 and 2015, Michael Cohen hired Gauger’s side business, RedFinch LLC, to rig online polls in Donald Trump’s favor while he considered a run for the presidency. Gauger’s work consisted of writing a computer script to repeatedly vote for Trump in two online polls; his company would get paid $50,000 in return. Instead, Gauger told the Journal that after a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Cohen paid Gauger roughly one-fourth of that amount—between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash—and gave him a boxing glove worn by a mixed martial arts fighter.
Through his lawyer, Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for tax fraud, making false statements to Congress and violating campaign finance laws, declined a request to comment for this article.
Previously unreported about this incident is that Trey joined Gauger on the January 2015 trip to New York, and posted a photo to Instagram showing a large amount of cash spread atop a bed in a hotel room. Liberty officials who saw the since-deleted post and described its contents said it raised questions about Trey’s involvement in the pro-Trump poll-rigging effort.
“The idiot posted [a picture of] money on a bed?!” one current senior Liberty official said. “Why do that if you’re not involved with it?”
Liberty officials also pointed to a tweet sent out by the university’s Twitter account on January 23, 2014, linking to one of the polls that the Wall Street Journal reported Gauger had rigged. The poll was conducted by CNBC and asked readers to vote for the top American business leaders.
On Jan. 23, 2014, Liberty University's official Twitter account asked its followers to vote for Donald Trump in an online poll hosted by CNBC. The online poll was among those Michael Cohen, Trump's attorney, paid John Gauger, a Liberty employee and owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, to manipulate. | Twitter
As a nonprofit, Liberty University is legally prohibited from engaging in “political campaign activity,” to use the IRS’ phrase, at the risk of losing its nonprofit status.
When asked about the tweet, Falwell told me he authorized the university’s marketing department to send it as way of thanking Trump for speaking at Liberty. “A representative of the Trump business organization asked for Liberty University to use Twitter to encourage followers to vote for Donald Trump in the annual CNBC poll. We often get requests from Convocation speakers to promote their books, movies, music and other projects. And we do it all the time,” Falwell said. “After speaking for free at [a 2012 Liberty] Convocation and being so complimentary to our University in his remarks, I considered Donald Trump to be a friend of Liberty University and was happy to publicize the poll in hopes that Liberty followers would be willing to vote for him on the heels of his very positive recent campus appearance.”
Falwell noted that at the time the tweet was sent, “Donald Trump was not a candidate for president and no one at Liberty even knew he would run for President.” However, as the Wall Street Journal reported—and as several sources independently confirmed in the course of my reporting for this article—Cohen had hired Gauger, a Liberty employee, to rig the poll in Trump’s favor for the purposes of garnering support ahead of his presidential bid.
“A 501(c)(3) organization trying to influence a poll so that a candidate’s fortunes are promoted or demoted is not permitted,” said Eve Borenstein, an attorney and tax expert known as the “Queen of the 990,” a moniker used to introduce her ahead of congressional testimony she gave about the IRS Form 990 in 2012.
While 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to “do objective analysis of [an] electoral horse race,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, “tweeting out a rigged poll if Liberty knew it was rigged probably does not fall into that safe harbor.”
Liberty officials said that the arrangement is characteristic of how Falwell wields power. “This paints a picture of how Jerry operates,” one former high-ranking university official said. “Gauger gets promoted, [Liberty] contracts for RedFinch for online recruitment … and [Gauger] gets hooked up with people like Cohen to make more money via RedFinch.” And in the end, Falwell gets what he really wants: “A guy that will do whatever he is told.”
rule for section breaks
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, leaves federal court in Dec. 2018. | AP
Michael Cohen’s connection to Jerry Falwell Jr., veers into deeply personal territory.
In May 2019, Reuters reported that Cohen helped Falwell contain the fallout from some racy “personal” photos. Later that month, Falwell took to Todd Starnes’ radio talk show to rebut the claims.
“This report is not accurate,” Falwell said. “There are no compromising or embarrassing photos of me.”
Members of Falwell’s inner circle took note of the phrasing.
“If you read how Jerry is framing his response, you can see he is being very selective,” one of Falwell’s confidants said. Racy photos do exist, but at least some of the photos are of his wife, Becki, as the Miami Herald confirmed in June.
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.
More than simply talking with employees about his wife in a sexual manner, on at least one occasion, Falwell shared a photo of his wife wearing what appeared to be a French maid costume, according to a longtime Liberty employee with firsthand knowledge of the image and the fallout that followed.
Falwell intended to send the image to his and Becki’s personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite, as a “thank you” for helping his wife achieve her fitness goals, the employee said. In the course of texting, Falwell accidentally sent the message to several other people, necessitating a cleanup.
In a statement, Falwell denied this. “I never had any picture of Becki Falwell dressed in a French maid uniform, and never sent such a non-existent photo to Ben Crosswhite.”
Crosswhite did not respond to requests for comment.
The Falwells’ close relationship with Crosswhite is the source of consternation for some of Liberty’s top brass because of what they characterize as a sweetheart business deal Falwell had the university offer Crosswhite.
On July 23, 2013, Liberty University began renting space to Crosswhite for use as a fitness center. “The facility was specifically built into the old Racket Club for Jerry and Becki to train privately” with Crosswhite, a longtime university official familiar with the arrangement said. Over the course of the Falwells' private training, Liberty began to pay for expensive upgrades to the facility, according to documents reviewed for this article. Eventually, in 2015, Falwell had a university executive draft a proposal for Liberty to sell the property to Crosswhite at a discount, paying him up front for Liberty’s use of the facility for the next seven years.
“We raised his rent some to cover the investment. LU then sold it to Ben,” one senior university official said. “Nobody else was allowed to bid on it.”
In a Dec. 10, 2013, Instagram post, Becki Falwell and Michael Cohen pose for a photograph during a visit to New York City. "Wonderful seeing my great friend @michaelcohen84 in NY," Falwell wrote. "He's the best."
In a Dec. 10, 2013, Instagram post, Becki Falwell and Michael Cohen pose for a photograph during a visit to New York City. "Wonderful seeing my great friend @michaelcohen84 in NY," Falwell wrote. "He's the best." | Instagram
In a September 2015 email, Liberty University Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Smith wrote Crosswhite to let him know the terms of the deal. The university would sell Crosswhite “the club and all real estate associated with it” for $1,216,000. Liberty employees would be allowed to use the facility, Crosswhite could decide what the value of that was—roughly $82,000 per year, he decided—and the school would pay in advance for seven years of use.
At closing, per Falwell’s approval, Liberty would pay Crosswhite approximately $575,000, which effectively cut Crosswhite’s total cost for the $1.2 million property in half. “The net amount that you would need at closing is $641,062 more or less,” Smith wrote. “After reviewing, if the terms are acceptable to you, then I will get final approval from Jerry to proceed,” Smith wrote Crosswhite.
“Hell of a deal,” a former high-ranking Liberty official told me. “We gave Ben everything he asked for.”
In emails obtained for this article, David Corry, lead counsel for Liberty University, expressed concerns about the appearance of the deal. “Please note, though, that Ben Crosswhite enjoys a close working relationship with several LU administrators, including the President, so I suggest whatever course of action is taken, it is done cordially and professionally with knowledge ahead of time that it may be second guessed,” Corry wrote in a September 2017 email to top Liberty staff.
When asked for comment on August 22, Corry four times asked me to turn over to him the email thread. When Corry was provided the exact wording along with the date he sent the email, he replied that he wasn’t shown his “signature block,” perhaps suggesting he had not sent the email in question. When Corry was presented with a screen shot of his email, including his signature block, he said his comment was taken out of context and alleged the sources for this article “are intentionally feeding you partial facts in hopes you will do their dirty work in a very public way.” On August 27, Reuters broke the news of Liberty’s property sale to Crosswhite.
In a statement for this article, Falwell wrote that the athletic facility had been donated to Liberty University and was “a drain on University resources that was disproportionate to its value.” “I wanted to reverse that and allow the University to get what it needed from the facility but eliminate the annual costs of maintenance, staffing and operations,” Falwell said. “Since Ben Crosswhite would not be receiving full use of the entire property” given the university’s continued use of the facility, Liberty decided “Crosswhite never received full value of the whole property and thus should not pay full price.”
“Unless you are approaching this with some sort of pre-determined outcome, the transaction is very easy to understand,” Liberty COO Smith wrote in an email responding to questions for this article. “It is VERY common practice for the university to dispose of an asset that is in financial and operational distress … especially if it can do it in a fashion that is advantageous to the university. To accomplish that while still making the facility available for the university to use is what most would consider to be a win-win situation.”
Smith said the idea for the financial arrangement used to sell the athletic facility to Crosswhite was his. “I proposed that the university commit to renting … from him for a number of years and we could pay that in the form of a credit at closing,” Smith wrote. “To answer your question, yes, creative deals are commonplace at Liberty University.”
“When I hear the laundry list of interested transactions and the questionable use of Liberty University’s assets … I hear a nonprofit that is not well-governed in a sense that I would hope and expect from a sizable nonprofit,” Pitt Law’s Hackney said. “It has the sense of being managed for a charismatic leader and his family and friends rather than for the mission of Liberty.”
Liberty University graduates celebrate after the school's May 2007 commencement ceremony.
PART III: The Power and the glory
It will surprise no one that Jerry Falwell Jr. is a Republican. He has that in common with the vast majority of people connected to Liberty. But sometimes his partisan allegiances manifest in ways that directly influence the governance of the school—which, as a nonprofit, must not endorse or oppose candidates for public office.
Just days after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, top university officials were already considering ways to ensure that Liberty students voted in 2010 local elections in Lynchburg. Falwell and university officials weren’t simply talking about the sort of voter-registration drives common at many college campuses; they wanted students to tilt the balance of the election.
In emails obtained for this article, top school officials shared a local newspaper article documenting “concerns in some quarters [of Lynchburg] about the overwhelmingly conservative LU students and the possibility they could alter the balance of power on council and change the course of the city.”
“FYI - The challenge we will have in 2010 is [Lynchburg’s local Election Day] is finals week,” a top Liberty official wrote in a November 9, 2008, email to Falwell and other school leaders. “We would either need to get a polling station at LU or try and make this a reading day to get the kids out to vote.”
Falwell responded to the message just under four hours later, announcing that the problem was now solved: “We changed the calendar by one week. School will now let out on May 14 instead of" May 7.
This wasn’t a fluke. According to a former high-ranking university official who participated in some of these discussions, Falwell often takes “aggressive efforts … to register students in an effort to gain political influence.”
Similarly, in a 2014 email exchange, Falwell complained that Liberty’s commencement date meant that most students would be gone for the summer by the time voting began for Lynchburg’s local elections. “Why did we schedule commencement a week earlier this year?” he wrote in an email to several school executives. When one replied that commencement usually happened during the same weekend each year, Falwell pushed back. “We need to get that corrected for the 2018 graduation or else we will have no students in town to vote in local elections again,” Falwell wrote. “Let’s work on it.”
In the past, Falwell has defended any political actions he’s made as personal stances disconnected from his leadership of Liberty University. “I think our community is mature enough that they understand that all the administrators and faculty have their own personal political views,” he told the Washington Post after endorsing Trump. But it is as the president and chancellor of Liberty that Falwell changed the academic calendar to influence local politics.
In a statement, Falwell admitted to amending the academic calendar “so that students would not be prevented from voting in local municipal elections that used to be scheduled after their spring term exams.”
“They and their parents pay some of the highest taxes in the nation when it comes to the City meal and hotel taxes,” Falwell said. “It’s only fair that they have some say about who is elected to represent them.”
When I shared my reporting on the school’s date changes, legal experts reached different conclusions as to its propriety.
“This paints a picture of an organization that is intervening on campaigns more than it should,” said Pitt Law’s Hackney, although he added that other universities have “presumably” taken student voting into consideration when creating their schedules.
“Doing anything with the resources of a 501(c)(3) organization to promote or oppose candidates for elective public office is not a permitted operation by a 501(c)(3)-qualified organization under federal tax law,” Borenstein, the tax attorney specializing in nonprofit organizations, wrote in an email.
Still, Falwell’s actions here are “likely fine,” said Torres-Spelliscy, the law professor at Stetson University. “Many schools try to cancel classes or hold no classes on Election Day to encourage students to vote or be poll workers or engage in election protection activities. Though the IRS might consider Falwell’s stated partisan motivation if the IRS investigated Liberty to challenge its 501(c)(3) status, this type of investigation is highly unlikely.” In fact, according to Ellen April, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School, a very small number of 990 Forms are ever investigated. “The IRS is able to do very little enforcement of the rules applicable to 501(c)(3) because of their limited" resources.
President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr. onstage during Liberty's May 2017 commencement ceremony. | Getty Images
Observers snickered when Donald Trump visited Liberty’s campus in 2016, veered off script and infamously referred to the Bible's Second Corinthians as “two Corinthians”—making it appear as if he were learning of the biblical book for the first time. But his promises to religious conservatives—chief among them, his guarantee that he would fill Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court empty seat with a justice who opposed abortion rights—and his choice of Mike Pence as his running mate mobilized evangelicals to support him in 2016. In CNN’s exit poll from that November, 26 percent of the electorate described themselves as white born-again or evangelical Christians; 80 percent of them voted for Trump.
In 2017, with Trump in office and evangelicals strongly supporting him, the Falwells saw a branding opportunity, according to emails obtained for this article.
That spring, after Trump was invited to deliver the school’s commencement address, Becki Falwell asked university counsel Corry to look into whether Liberty could “permit third-party vendors to sell t-shirts and hats [on campus] during commencement weekend.” Corry advised that because of a contract between the university and Barnes & Noble, which had the exclusive right to sell “clothing, including any and all such items bearing Liberty University emblem, logo, insignia, or other identifying mark” on campus, the answer “depends upon who is selling them and whether Barnes & Noble consents.”
“I want to make sure that we have a lot of options available to purchase,” Becki Falwell replied, adding additional Liberty officials to the email thread. “It’s great advertising for Liberty to be on products with Trumps name.”
In a follow-up email to the Liberty officials, Becki wrote, “I spoke to Michael Cohen and he said to make sure any shirts we buy are made in America! He loved the designs!”
The school ended up printing and selling Trump T-shirts and hats. The shirts, in MAGA red with white type, read “TRUMP” in large block letters and “Liberty University Commencement 2017” in a much smaller font size. Another design, used on both hats and T-shirts, borrowed Trump’s campaign slogan and signature style: an all-caps “Making America Great Again,” then in a script font: “One degree at a time.”
Mockups of merchandise proposed for Liberty University's commencement in 2017
Ahead of Trump’s speech at Liberty’s 2017 commencement, Becki Falwell wrote an email to several high-ranking Liberty officials: “It’s great advertising for Liberty to be on products with Trumps name.” The school ended up printing and selling Trump t-shirts and hats. The shirts, in MAGA red with white type, read “TRUMP” in large block letters, with “Liberty University Commencement 2017” in a much smaller typeface. Another design, used on both hats and t-shirts, borrowed Trump’s campaign slogan and signature style: an all-caps “Making America Great Again,” then in a script font: “One degree at a time.” | Obtained by Brandon Ambrosino
“Liberty University actually benefited by having President Donald Trump speak at commencement and by associating his brand with the University’s brand,” Jerry Falwell said in a statement, expressing his disappointment that the emails were shared. “Because Donald Trump is conservative, there is a benefit for a conservative Christian school to be associated with him, so long as the association does not cross the legal line set by the federal government.”
Told about the merchandise, experts suggested that the Trump-Liberty T-shirts might cross that line. “A 501(c)(3) organization cannot be selling those shirts or gifting space to someone selling t-shirts with a candidate’s name on it, since that is advertising for a candidate,” Borenstein said.
Ever since Falwell endorsed Trump ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucuses, political pundits have speculated that Trump was simply using Falwell to achieve his own political ends. That might be true: From his regular appearances at evangelical events to his claim that he single-handedly brought back the phrase “Merry Christmas,” Trump seems to be keen on shoring up his evangelical base. What better way to do that than to cultivate a very public relationship with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.’s son?
But multiple associates of Jerry Falwell Jr. said the popular narrative is backward: It’s not Trump who has the most to gain from the relationship, it’s Falwell. Trump just went along with the arrangement.
Falwell has become known as a Trump loyalist who is willing to put his—and his school’s—reputation on the line to defend the president from any critic. In Trump, Falwell said in 2017, “evangelicals have found their dream president.” When asked by the Washington Post late in 2018 if there were “anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders,” Falwell said “No.” In a May 2019 tweet about the Mueller investigation, Falwell appropriated the language of reparations for descendants of slaves to argue Trump’s term should be lengthened: “I now support reparations. Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”
In Trump, Falwell has found the opportunity to secure his own status as one of America’s preeminent Christian political leaders—the chance to finally obtain the national relevance of his father. Now, Falwell is a national figure—a friend to a president, a man prone to outspoken statements that rile critics and endear him to supporters, a major leader on the religious right despite not being a pastor. He is closer than ever before to the kind of status the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. wielded.
But for those at Liberty who know both Falwell Jr. and his late father, there’s no comparing the men.
"Jerry’s daddy was a respectable, honest, decent, hardworking man,” said a longtime Liberty official who worked for both father and son. “Big Jerry hired people that were smart and capable and put them around himself. He made sure you knew you were appreciated. There was never an ego involved. You knew you were working for a higher calling. Jerry’s father was very generous and promoted all of us in an enlightening way.”
With Falwell Sr., "you could feel his passion and love for the Lord and others. He knew everyone’s names, their stories and struggles. He was genuine and loving. And that love bled from the campus,” a former longtime university official said. “It’s a cold place now.”
“With [Jerry’s] dad, there were never questions about his business dealings or whether he was profiting from a business deal,” said still another former longtime high-ranking Liberty official who worked closely with both men. “There was never a hint or suspicion of that because Falwell Sr. was only doing things that were for the benefit of the university or church—not for himself.”
The feeling is different with Junior in charge.
One source pointed to a tweet Jerry Falwell Jr. sent out in June 2019 criticizing David Platt, an evangelical Virginia pastor who apologized for welcoming Trump to his church. “I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honors every man and woman made in the image of God,” Platt said. “Sorry to be crude,” wrote Falwell in a since-deleted tweet, “but pastors like [David Platt] need to grow a pair.”
After Falwell came under criticism for his tweet about Platt, he responded to critics with a two-part Twitter thread, which, in the words of one current high-ranking Liberty official, “a lot of people found troubling.”
“I have never been a minister,” Falwell tweeted. “UVA-trained lawyer and commercial real estate developer for 20 yrs. Univ president for last 12 years-student body tripled to 100000+/endowment from 0 to $2 billion and $1.6B new construction in those 12 years. The faculty, students and campus pastor @davidnasser of @LibertyU are the ones who keep LU strong spiritually as the best Christian univ in the world. While I am proud to be a conservative Christian, my job is to keep LU successful academically, financially and in athletics.”
To those who worked for Liberty under the late Rev. Falwell, the sentiment appeared to signal a serious departure from his father’s legacy. “Bragging about business success and washing his hands of any responsibility for spiritual life at the university—that was frankly a pretty Trumpian line of commentary,” said one former university official with longstanding ties to both Liberty and the Falwell family.
Under Falwell Jr., Liberty University is “a totally dysfunctional organization,” one board member wrote in an email reviewed for this article. “Very similar to Trump’s White House.”
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... ans-227914
For the last several years, I've been reporting on Liberty University and the #Falwell family. During that time, I've connected with many high-ranking Liberty officials (current and former) who have been more than willing to tell me what they know. /1
(202) 224-3121 CONGRESS
Wendy Siegelman added,
(202) 224-3121 CONGRESS
"We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying…
Wendy Siegelman added,
https://twitter.com/WendySiegelman/stat ... 2591904768
When Gauger traveled to Trump Tower to collect payment for online poll rigging from Cohen, he was joined by Trey Falwell, Liberty University VP. During that trip, Trey posted a photo to IG of around $12K in cash spread on a hotel bed.
The Pattern Leading To Michael Cohen Visiting Prague
Jan 30 · 6 min read
Prague, Czech Republic
Rigging Online Polls
Around January 17, 2019, it was revealed that Presidential candidate Donald Trump directed Trump Organization EVP Michael Cohen to pay evangelical christian Liberty University CIO John Gauger for computer software to rig online polls, via voting multiple times to boost Trump’s popularity before his campaign. The first online polls targeted for rigging by Donald Trump, (that are known of), were the CNBC online poll of the 100 best business persons in 2014, and a Drudge Report online poll of the most popular Republican candidates for President in early 2015.
These immoral attempts at rigging online polls emerged because Michael Cohen billed the Trump Organization for $50,000 for “tech services” for the computer scripts from Gauger. Then, Cohen only paid Gauger $12,000 — $13,000 of the $50,000, when Gauger visited Trump Tower to collect the payment for the illegal services. Cohen also included a boxing glove, (from a famous Mixed Martial Arts fighter), in the Walmart bag that contained the all-cash under-payment. Interestingly, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. was subsequently considered for the position of Secretary of Education by the Trump Transition Team.
Presidential Debate Online Poll Reliance
During the campaign, Trump frequently boasted about online polls and bashed any poll that showed him behind. After the CNBC poll in 2014 and the Drudge poll in 2015, Trump then proceeded through the Republican primary debates consistently bragging of winning online polls. For example, in August 2015 Trump said, “I have a lot of money and I’m not getting out. I’m going to win,” Trump said. “You watch, when this campaign is over, I win. As good as I’m doing, and I’m leading the polls, it’s just the start.”
Via only illegal online poll rigging, Trump, Cohen, & Gauger are guilty of Computer Fraud & Abuse (18 USC 1030), Defrauding the USA (18 USC 371), RICO (18 USC 1962), Money Laundering (18 USC 1956(h)), and Campaign Finance Violation (52 USC 30116).
Free Republic Freeping Polls
During the primary and presidential debates, unethical Republicans engaged in “freeping”, (for “Free Pinging”), online polls via coordinating with other unethical Republicans in the “Free Republic” online forum. The process of “freeping” involves accessing the online poll, voting once, then getting the latest poll results, then clearing the last hour of web browser history, hitting the back button, then getting a new online poll page that is available for voting again.
Free Republic’s Freeping Method
By 2016, online services like http://www.buycontestvotes.com offered computer scripts to manipulate online voting at the rate of $15,000 per 100,000 votes. Even though this would invalidate the online contests, buycontestvotes.com offered the unethical the opportunity to cheat in Facebook, Twitter, and other online polls in the same manner as Donald Trump had schemed in 2014 and 2015. buycontestvotes.com’s capabilities included online voting with thousands of authentic appearing social media accounts, and thousands of internet addresses to disguise the fake votes generated by a single computer script.
buycontestvotes.com home page
Rigging Online Business, Primaries, Presidential, And Approval Polls, then….
Free Republic forum participants engaging in freeping were a known liability of online polls during the 2016 Presidential election cycle. However, the Trump Campaign paying for computer scripts to vote in online polls multiple times for Donald Trump was not suspected.
List of 2016 Presidential Debate Online Polls
In addition to Michael Cohen paying for illegal poll rigging in 2014 and early 2015, (detected by tax fraud discrepancies within Cohen’s SDNY plea agreement), it is very possible Cohen continued to pay various operatives for further fraudulent poll rigging during the Republican primaries in late 2015 and early 2016, the Presidential Debates in 2016, and even after Donald Trump illegitimately became the USA’s President on November 8, 2016. If this existed, and Cohen accounted for the “tech services” legitimately, then the revealing of this practice will possibly only occur during a future indictment.
Paying For Election Hacking Software In Prague, Czech Republic
Therefore, in August 2016 did Michael Cohen visit Prague, Czech Republic in order to pay for voting machine, and Board of Elections, computer hacking malware to hack the USA Presidential Election, including Election Day hacking?
What has been determined, outside of secrecy by the Trump-Russia Special Counsel investigation, is that cellular network signals from Cohen’s cellphone were detected outside Prague around the time of the Russian hacker’s meeting purported by the Trump-Russia Dossier.
After the pre-dawn FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office and residence, Cohen has admitted then denied that he traveled to Prague in August, 2016. The reason for the changing story is possibly because of investigation secrecy demanded by the Special Counsel. Post-FBI raid Cohen admitted visiting Prague and Donald Trump knowing about the Trump Tower Meeting. Then, denied these admissions. Interestingly, George Papadopoulos admitted, then denied that Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump knew about his Russian contacts. Then finally re-admitted when those revelations were included in Papadopoulos’ Sentencing Memorandum.
With Michael Cohen possibly visiting Prague, MI6 Moscow bureau chief Christopher Steele’s Trump-Russia Dossier mentioned three associates that accompanied Cohen on the trip. The identity of these possible three associates is still not known. Are they possibly Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump travelling to Prague with Cohen in order to manage the invisibility of the Russian election hack, post-resignation of election hack planner Paul Manafort? Or were the three associates possibly Carter Page, and other lower level Trump operatives?
Several candidates for the Russian hackers that Cohen met in Prague have been arrested by Interpol and extradited to the USA from 2016 — Present. The possible authors/marketers of the 2016 election hacking software include Evgeny Nikulin, Pyotr Levashov, Alexander Vinnik, Yury Martyshev, and Stanislav Lisov.
Trump 2016 Black Ops Digital Roadmap
Paul Manafort might have planned the Trump 2016 Black Ops Digital Roadmap involving election rigging via computer hacking, however it is possible Michael Cohen’s duty was to use Donald Trump’s financial resources to pay for the software needed to meet the Digital Roadmap’s goals.
My analysis of Trump Campaign Hacking Ops Delegation
Incidentally, and suggesting further incrimination, the financial resources of Donald Trump applied to Manafort’s Black Ops Digital Roadmap could have traitorously originated in the Russian Federation’s Oligarchy.
My analysis of the origins of Donald Trump’s finances
Considering the pattern of Michael Cohen financing unethical activities committed by Donald Trump, and the proven involvement of the Trump Campaign in cheating online polls, it is only a matter of logical, linear deduction to presume the Trump Campaign also targeted the 2016 Presidential Elections itself for malware that would ensure the contest was decided in Donald Trump’s favor.
Thank you very much for reading this blog. The above analysis is a product of the author’s deductive reasoning only. The accuracy of the conclusions will be revealed as the final documents produced by the Trump-Russia Special Counsel, and Congressional investigations, are released.
Contributions: https://fundly.com/institute-of-societal-conditions or Ethereum to 0x8727d306494CfF418FD17Bf920f5ce5a5a784bAf.
https://medium.com/@j363j/the-pattern-l ... eed929a9ad
Giancarlo Granda and Jerry Falwell Jr
Jerry Falwell Jr has settled the lawsuit tied to the “pool boy”/Miami dive hostel story. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the terms of the settlement are not being disclosed. To remind everyone, the suit was brought by yet another guy, Gordon Bello, a high friend of Giancarlo Granda, the pool boy. He claimed that he’d been promised 25% of the hostel business.
One additional complexity: Bello originally sued under the name Jesus Fernandez, Jr., which was his name. Be and his father changed their names to Gordon and Jett Bello during the litigation allegedly because of threats against them tied to the lawsuit.
What I hadn’t been aware of is that Bello apparently also claimed or at least suggested a relationship with Rebecca (Becki) Falwell as part of his lawsuit. The article in The Miami Herald which reported the settlement includes this paragraph.
Bello said in court papers that he first met Rebecca Falwell through Granda, and formed a “personal relationship” with her before he met Jerry Falwell in the lobby of the Loews Miami Beach for the alleged pitch meeting in 2012.
This whole story is filled with hints and suggestions that are never quite spelled out. But if I’m understanding this correctly, Bello and Becki Falwell started a “personal relationship” after being introduced by Granda and Jerry only came into the picture later when money started flowing from the Falwells to Becki’s young male friends in Miami.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/je ... re-1254296
Christian TV host: Hillary Clinton looks better these days because ‘she’s been drinking a lot of blood’
By Sky Palma October 3, 2019
The “spirit cooking” conspiracy theory emerged during the 2016 campaign, and like most anti-Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories, it lived and died within the bowels of the far-right blogosphere. Unsurprisingly, it’s still alive in the brain of TruNews host Rick Wiles.
On the Wednesday edition of his TruNews TV show, Wiles mentioned that Hillary Clinton is looking much better these days than she did when she was on the 2016 campaign trail.
“Physically, she’s looking much better,” Wiles said to his co-hosts. “She must be drinking a lot of blood. … I mean, because she’s definitely getting transfusions because she’s stronger.”
Wiles went to say that Clinton was “definitely pretty weak back there in 2016.”
“That woman was falling apart. Obviously, they’ve been taking her to a lot of spirit cooking events, and she’s been revived.”
Right Wing Watch
Rick Wiles notes that physically, Hillary Clinton is "looking much better. She must be drinking a lot of blood."
9:15 AM - Oct 3, 2019
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As New York Magazine pointed out back in 2016, Wiles’ sinister interpretation of “spirit cooking” first debuted on InfoWars, which referred to it as “a sacrament in the religion of Thelema” founded by Aleister Crowley. In reality, spirit cooking was conceived by world-renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic, and it “included absurdist recipes featuring such ingredients as ‘fingertips of the artist’ and ‘a ruby that has been soaking for three days.'”
When Wikileaks dumped a series of hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, an email from Abramovic to Podesta’s lobbyist brother, Tony, was stumbled upon by some impressionable individual.
“Dear Tony,” the email read. “I am so looking forward to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place. “Do you think you will be able to let me know if your brother is joining?”
The message was a playful reference to Abramovic’s art, but don’t tell that to conspiracy theorists.
Pretty stupid, huh? This is the reality Rick Wiles lives in.
Featured image via screen grab
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