Religion

Trump Could Pick Jerry Falwell Jr. As Sec. Of Education

| by Michael Allen

Jerry Falwell Jr. recently confirmed that he met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City Nov. 17.

Falwell, who heads the Christian conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, told The News And Advance that he talked to Trump about the U.S. Department of Education, but didn't say whether or not he was up for secretary of education.

Falwell, who is part of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, said, "I will definitely play a role, and we’re still discussing exactly what that role will be," but added that nothing has been officially decided.

Liberty University teaches creationism, and opposes evolution.

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Falwell told The News And Advance that he wants to stop "overreaches" by President Barack Obama over student loan debt.

"I just want to do whatever I can to get the overbearing bureaucracy of the Department of Education off the backs of colleges and universities," Falwell said. He added that he does  "have a lot of concerns about the way the Department of Education is operating."

In 2015, the Obama administration created the Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) program.

Inside Higher Ed reported at the time that under this new program, "all federal direct loan borrowers will be able to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and have any remaining undergraduate debt forgiven after 20 years of making payments."

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Falwell signaled to the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he wanted to redirect taxpayer money away from public K-12 education to school vouchers which, in his words, could "transform the country and the inner cities" with an educational choice that would give "a whole generation of young people a new lease on life."

Falwell added that he and Trump agreed, when Trump was a candidate, on repealing the "Johnson Amendment," which would allow religious institutions to basically become political action committees for candidates and still keep their valuable tax breaks.

Falwell, who asserts that he is a devout Christian, slammed universities that provided counseling for students after the election, which Falwell termed as "having these little cry sessions and canceling classes and basically saying the wrong guy won."

"Those are nonprofit schools," Falwell added. "They are subject to the 'Johnson Amendment' ... and they’re saying, 'We’ll help you mourn since the wrong guy won.' If Liberty had done that after Obama had won, we would have been called on the carpet on the Johnson Amendment and our tax exemption would have been at stake."

As a matter of record, the "Johnson Amendment" does not ban colleges from counseling students after elections.

Sources: The News And Advance, Richmond Times-DispatchInside Higher Ed / Photo credit: Liberty University

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