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The Badly Misnamed Liberty University

Right Wing Watch did a really interesting series of posts last week about the badly misnamed “Liberty” University, founded by Jerry Falwell. They got their hands on a copy of the Liberty U student handbook, which contains some of the most intrusive and onerous policies this side of Bob Jones. Like getting fined and reprimanded for attending a dance of any kind.

In fact, you can get that merely for “visiting alone at an off-campus residence” with a member of the opposite sex (presumably, gay students are free to break the rules — wait, what gay students?). And then there’s the mandatory drug testing of all students. I’m especially amused by the absolute ban on possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages of any kind. Didn’t their savior allegedly turn water into wine? Maybe so, but even owning a bottle of it will get you thrown out of “Liberty” U.

Of course, it’s a private university and has every right to impose whatever rules it wants on students. What I find incredible is that anyone would agree to submit to such an authoritarian regime. Then again, the students are mostly fundamentalists, so a preference for authoritarianism may be a given.

Comments

  1. Gregory in Seattle says

    “Slavery is Freedom” means that true liberty can be had only by voluntarily giving up all claim to liberty.

  2. rmw1982 says

    I’m especially amused by the absolute ban on possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages of any kind. Didn’t their savior allegedly turn water into wine? Maybe so, but even owning a bottle of it will get you thrown out of “Liberty” U.

    Perhaps they’re trying to differentiate themselves from the Catholics?

  3. Phillip IV says

    And despite of all the stringency, it seems Liberty U has failed miserably at the task Jerry Falwell founded it for: raising the next generation of religious conservative leaders. Tony Perkins seems to be the only alumnus within the top ranks of the right-wing leadership, there are a handful of mid-rankers, but that’s about it.

  4. says

    I’ve heard the reason Southern Baptists are prohibited from attending orgies is because of the possibility that dancing could break out.

    I know it’s old, but IMHO it’s a good one.
    I wonder what the good christianists in “Real America” thought of Sarah Palin’s daughter (the slutty one who had a child out of wedlock and is now shacking up for a reality show) appearing on Dancing With the Stars.

  5. says

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the urine of obedient and disobedient students.

  6. Trebuchet says

    What I find incredible is that anyone would agree to submit to such an authoritarian regime.

    I’d guess that a considerable percentage of the students are not there of their own volition but were sent there by their parents, perhaps because of previous rebellion.

  7. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    You must learn to follow before you can lead.

    _____

    Or, in this case, must learn to be oppressed before you can oppress others.

  8. godlesspanther says

    I read the series that was posted on RRW. I thought it interesting that someone managed to get the sacred handbook for publication despite LU’s efforts to hide it. What? A university chose to hide their handbook — the book that all the students are expected to refer to? That, right there, is really weird.

    I thought about this. “Then again, the students are mostly fundamentalists, so a preference for authoritarianism may be a given.” Good observation. Sure, it is a source of personal pride (yes, they would not approve of my choice of words there) for these students to go through something like this for four years and actually adhere to an extremely restrictive set of rules. Four years adhering to rules that are almost impossible, if not literally impossible, to uphold to a tee.

    Ah — think about that — literally impossible to go for four years without breaking the rules. But, I have no doubt that there is a portion of students who do make it through that system without reprimand. Is it because they never broke a rule? Of course not — it’s because they didn’t get caught. Either that or they are good at bullshitting their way out of things. Most likely both.

    So what are these kids REALLY learning?

  9. naturalcynic says

    5th: Palin’s daughter (the slutty one who had a child out of wedlock and is now shacking up for a reality show) appearing on Dancing With the Stars. What makes you think that they watch [or are are allowed to watch] DWTS? It must be a secret sin for the, uh, avant-garde at LU.

  10. nobonobo says

    Of course, it’s a private university and has every right to impose whatever rules it wants on students.

    OK…it’s their legal right.

    Last year the school banned students from accessing the local Lyncburg newspaper, the News & Advance, after it reported on the half-billion dollars that the school received in 2010 from the federal government, which runs counter to the school’s anti-government ideology.

    But wait! My tax dollars support a private, religious institution that doesn’t adhere to constitutional rights?

  11. JustaTech says

    What planet do these people live on? My mother went to college in Lynchburg in the ’60s and her women’s school wasn’t nearly this repressive!
    “Spend a completely chaste night with your parents or siblings of the opposite sex.” Expeled!

    And what about anyone on ADD medication? That can come up in a drug test as amphetimine. Do you get to explain that, or are you just toast?

    The exercise clothing requirements for women, in Virginia? Can we all say, heat-stroke?

    And here’s the big question: if all these students are such good little Christians, why does the school need all these rules? Surely kids who choose to go to Liberty (or whose parents send them there) wouldn’t be doing heroin, so why test for it?

  12. slc1 says

    The frightening thing is that this piece of shit school has the largest on-line enrollment of any university in the country.

  13. raven says

    What I find incredible is that anyone would agree to submit to such an authoritarian regime.

    And pay for it!!!

    NoLiberty nonU. students pay money for that sort of Big Brotherism. IIRC, a lot of money inasmuch as NoLiberty is private.

    They could pay the same or less and get a real education at a US college or university, many of which are among the best in the world.

    Old joke. Why do Southern Baptists forbid premarital sex? Because it might lead to dancing.

  14. DaveL says

    One of my favourite offenses, which apparently rates up there with conviction of a felony:

    Two or more individuals of the opposite sex together in motel room

    How can you have three people all of the opposite sex?

  15. regexp says

    None of this is new information. A guy by the name of Kevin Roose spent a year there and wrote a book about his experience. If I remember correctly – Kevin was the last person to interview Falwell before he died.

  16. Mr Ed says

    I wonder if Liberty U and the like are the first step in fundamentalist becoming like the Amish or Hasidic Jews in closed communities. As an employer when I see a bible university on a resume I think that the person spent more time reinforcing religious ideas and less time learning new ideas and leaning how to think. People with these degrees will only be able to find work among like thinkers.

  17. cptdoom says

    And what about anyone on ADD medication? That can come up in a drug test as amphetimine. Do you get to explain that, or are you just toast?

    You don’t even need to be on meds for a false positive test. There was a case here in DC a few years back in which a woman tested positive for heroin because she ate poppy seed bagels and rolls every day.

  18. d cwilson says

    What? A university chose to hide their handbook — the book that all the students are expected to refer to? That, right there, is really weird.

    If gives them something in common with Scientology.

  19. d cwilson says

    People with these degrees will only be able to find work among like thinkers.

    Bush famously packed the Justice Department with graduates from Liberty U and Pat Robertson’s Regent University. That’s another fun thing about these schools. Despite their claims at being anti-government, they spend a lot of effort preparing students for a life working for the government. Presumably so that they can destroy it from the inside. Or at least “take our country back to its Christian roots ™”.

  20. d cwilson says

    What I find incredible is that anyone would agree to submit to such an authoritarian regime.

    Liberty is one of those words that has a completely different definition on Planet Wingnuttia. In their dictionary, liberty means to be able to make as much money as possible, even at the expense of other people’s health and safety, and not have to pay taxes on it. It also means everyone else is free to live exactly the way they tell them to. It combines the worst elements of authoritarianism with vulture capitalism.

  21. krc106 says

    They’re not alone for sure. I worked with a guy that attended a similar school. No dancing, no talking to the opposite sex without chaperones(or physical contact at all), no music or movies(complete with nightly room inspections). Any restaurant that serves alcohol is supposed to be off limits. He sent us all this paragraph copied straight out of their handbook:

    “This student handbook will govern much of student life. We realize that following rules do not produce spirituality, but if we will allow the Holy Spirit to produce self-discipline and a submissive spirit as we follow these standards, we will grow to be spiritual people. My wife used to own a beautiful horse with excellent blood lines. Though she was a beautiful horse and could have been very valuable, she never truly submitted her will to anyone else. In two months of top professional training, the trainer was unable to mount her. A highly experienced wrangler worked for three hours to load her into a horse trailer, all to no avail. Her veterinarian quit. Finally, on the advice of some of the best experts we could find, we put her to sleep. People can be like that horse. Self-discipline and submission make us useful and valuable.”

  22. raven says

    Finally, on the advice of some of the best experts we could find, we put her to sleep.

    That means killed her.

    Xians are famous for their homicidal violence. The Abigensian genocide killed around 1 million people, every one of them. Even today they sometimes beat their kids to death. It’s very biblical, Deuteronomy says disobedient children are to be stoned to death.

    One wonders what NoLiberty nonU.’s penalties for violating their Orwellian manual would be without US laws, law enforcement, DA’s, and prisons.

    Odd factoid. The Catholic priest who killed Giordano Bruno and almost killed Galileo, Cardinal Saint Bellarimo, has a Catholic college in Kentucky named after him. I’ve always wondered just how strict they are. I can imagine the stack of firewood and stake in the quad probably deters most students from getting out of line.

  23. kermit. says

    Why don’t Southern Baptists screw standing up?
    Someone might mistake it for dancing.

    The reason the university tests students for all drugs and searching their rooms, etc. is because we humans are a depraved lot. Ask any southern Baptist preacher – I was told over and over growing up that humans are despicable in every way from near-infancy.

    Fundamentalists are taught to continually think of all the perversions they would be doing if they weren’t being kept in line by threats of eternal punishment. Like being challenged to not think of a white elephant, they eventually fall into a habit of it. I was under the impression growing up with them that they didn’t know what they were really tempted to do; their desires kept getting mixed up with their imagined desires.

    The only think more dangerous than joy to the young soul’s salvation is the possibility of hearing different ideas and worse, understanding them.

  24. DaveL says

    I own a horse, and started him under saddle myself. I’d like to know who this trainer was and who these experts were who told them to have the horse put down. Notably missing from this story is any mention of earning the horse’s trust.

  25. Chiroptera says

    Justatech, #14: Surely kids who choose to go to Liberty (or whose parents send them there) wouldn’t be doing heroin, so why test for it?

    It’s to get people inured to the idea of mandatory drug testing so that when someone finally proposes mandatory drug testing for all US citizens, the response will be, “what’s the big deal? I was tested in college.”

    -

    Bonus quote: from Liberty [sic] U.s drug policy, as quoted in one of the links in the OP:

    Attendance is a privilege.

    Lol.

  26. grumpyoldfart says

    Those kids don’t give a stuff about the harshness of the rules. Liberty University is just a means to an end. With LU credentials they expect to step over the mere congregants and gain positions of power within the church – and that means more money in a year, than most people can earn in a lifetime. They may not all succeed, but that’s the dream.

  27. whatchusaye says

    It isn’t just the students who are subjected to such extreme limitations of their “liberty.” My whole in-law clan lives near Liberty U, and my brother in law works for the K-12 arm of LU, “Liberty Christian Academy.” He signed a document, as part of his employment contract, promising to abstain from drinking, drugs and dancing. His wedding to my husband’s little sister was one of the dullest affairs I’ve ever been to. No alcohol was served, not even a champagne toast. Music played during the reception, but it was not a dancing event. Not even a first dance for the bride and groom.

    My husband, father-in-law, and I kept sneaking out to the parking lot, to sip beers out of the cooler my FIL had conveniently remembered to pack.

    I shudder to think that my nieces and nephews are students at LCA. They remind me of Rod and Tod Flanders, the way the repeat what they’re taught, with that brainwashed smile plastered on their faces.

  28. dan4 says

    “Students may not enter the residence halls of the opposite sex.”

    Not even if you’re a man/woman who has a sister/brother staying in one of these halls, and you just want to say hello to them, see how they’re doing, etc? So much for being “pro-family.”

  29. wheatdogg says

    raven @26:
    Odd factoid. The Catholic priest who killed Giordano Bruno and almost killed Galileo, Cardinal Saint Bellarimo, has a Catholic college in Kentucky named after him. I’ve always wondered just how strict they are. I can imagine the stack of firewood and stake in the quad probably deters most students from getting out of line.

    That would be the Cardinal Inquisitor Roberto Bellarmino, anglicized to Bellarmine. The university (founded in 1950) named after him is in Louisville, and does not resemble either the Inquisitor or Liberty U. I’m not sure about its student rules and regulations, but from my friends and associates who have attended it, it seems fairly laid-back for a Catholic school. No stakes or firewood supplies in sight.

  30. wheatdogg says

    Forgot to tack on another comment.

    I’ve known a few fundie-types from my long years spent in Kentucky. Many operate under the presumption that young men and women (or anyone, really) are pre-wired to sin, and so therefore they welcome all those overly intrusive and draconian rules at Liberty U. Other unis, especially those seething hotbeds of sex and secular thinking, state universities, would offer too many temptations and lead the youngsters astray.

    On the other hand, I don’t anyone personally who would want to attend Liberty U, who goes there, or who has graduated from there. I wonder how they handle the “real world,” once they leave the sheltered cloisters of their alma mater.

  31. martinc says

    the absolute ban on possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages of any kind.

    If I were there and was found in possession of a bottle of wine, I’d keep a straight face and say: “that was water when I bought it”.

  32. joeina2 says

    Oh, are we telling jokes now?

    So here’s one of my favorite called the three fundamental religious truths.

    1.) Jews do not recognize Jesus as the messiah.
    2.) Protestants do not recognize the authority of the Pope.
    3.) Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.

    Seriously, about the alcohol thing, I remember at my old baptist church the pastors giving some run-around that the aramaic word for “wine” could mean either wine or grape juice, and that Jesus probably just made grape juice. Never mind that everyone was surprised that Jesus made good wine, because normally the good wine was used up to get everyone drunk. In other words, Jesus made more booze when everyone else was already pretty boozed up, and people were pumped about that.

  33. says

    Notably missing from this story is any mention of earning the horse’s trust.

    That’s the same thing that’s missing from the entire abusive-authoritarian mindset.

    Oh, and STFU with your worldly knowledge and experience. Thinking for yourself and asking questions makes you a tool of the Devil!!!

  34. says

    I wonder how they handle the “real world,” once they leave the sheltered cloisters of their alma mater.

    By freaking out and looking for someone else to blame when everything they learned turns out not to work in the real world.

  35. NoVaRunner says

    I wonder how they handle the “real world,” once they leave the sheltered cloisters of their alma mater.

    By freaking out and looking for someone else to blame when everything they learned turns out not to work in the real world.

    Well, if they’re like me, they become atheists.

    I went to religious schools (SDA) from first grade through high school. High school was at an SDA boarding academy–I lived there, under rules pretty much identical to the ones promulgated by Liberty U. I was immersed in SDA teaching, essentially an entirely separate subset of society, until I graduated. Ed wonders why “anyone would agree to submit to such an authoritarian regime” as that at Liberty…well, when that’s all you know and all you’ve ever known, you don’t know how NOT to submit.

    Anyway, I was fortunate enough to avoid SDA university (they have them, too) and it didn’t take a whole lot of contact with the “real world” before I began to realize just about everything about my belief system was nonsense. The adjustment wasn’t even all that difficult (I think in that sense I was lucky, as others I know have had a much more difficult time shedding old thought patterns).

    Perhaps my youthful love for science, even science as censored as I got from the Adventists, kept a little part of my mind open so that when I departed that environment I was better able to escape it? I don’t know. But every day, I’m very happy I did.

  36. left0ver1under says

    Stupid rules? What else would one expect from a guy (Falwell) whose church had to be sued to allow blacks to join – AFTER the equal rights amendment had become law?

    If those rules seem asinine, look up the rules of unaccredited religious colleges. Any violation at such “colleges” can lead to the loss of all “earned credits”. But considering that you can’t transfer and credits from such third-rate colleges, you’re only out the thousands of dollars in tuition. 9_9

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-life/159088-pensacola-christian-college-article-scary.html

    It would really be interesting to see someone test how stupid the idiots are at LU, whether they would punish even after knowing the rules weren’t violated. I wonder what they’d do if they learnt one male student was visiting a woman of a similar age…and AFTER they try to punish him, he reveals that she is a cousin or aunt. Some people don’t check facts until they’re shoved back in their faces.

  37. dingojack says

    I know it’s kind OT but:
    I just finished watching a movie called Pleasantville(1998).

    During one of the ad breaks I read an article about marriage equality in New Scientist (19 May 2012 p28) that says that studies have shown that conservatives have a stronger disgust response than liberals, so have a stronger emotional response that they ratioalise as ‘moral’ response, realative to more dificult to disgust liberals.
    But the most interesting thing is that conservatives value group cohesion (loyalty, patriotism, obedience and conforming to group mores and morals) over personal autonomy (independence, familial or friend loyalty, questioning of and dissent from group mores, creating their own moral code). This resonated strongly with the movie.
    Then I realised while this was true in one sense, but if one asked conservatives and liberals which they valued more in regard to assets and income:
    a) free individual choice in how and where they spend their money to maximise their own personal happiness
    OR
    b) maximising the happiness of the community as a whole by limiting individual choice in how and where they spend their money,
    you can guess which conservatives would value more.
    Strange how humans are, isn’t it?
    Dingo

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