Religion

Trump Picks Anti-Evolution Christian For Education Panel

| by Michael Allen

President Donald Trump has tapped Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, a Christian-based college in Lynchburg, Virginia, to lead a higher-education task force.

Falwell told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the task force was created in response to "overreaching regulation" by the U.S. Department of Education. He added that the task force will come up with changes for the department, which may be run by Betsy DeVos, a conservative Christian activist.

"The task force will be a big help to her," Falwell added. "It will do some of the work for her."

"The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs," Falwell added. "I’ve got notebooks full of issues."

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Falwell said that Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon, a supporter of the racist alt-right movement, gave Falwell permission to publicly discuss the task force on Jan. 31.

Right Wing Watch reported in November 2016 that Falwell was an early supporter of Trump, appeared in ads for Trump, compared the casino mogul to Jesus Christ and called for arming Liberty students: "[I]f more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in."

Liberty opposes the teaching of evolution and instead teaches religious creationism, noted Right Wing Watch in 2010.

While Falwell has attacked the Department of Education, Liberty students received about $445 million in federal financial aid in 2010, reported The News & Advance in 2011.

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According to Right Wing Watch, Liberty opposes LGBT rights and does not believe in man-made climate change. The school also restricts student protests on campus and student participation in off-campus demonstrations.

Like DeVos, Falwell has expressed his strong support for school vouchers that send federal money to private charter schools, which are often Christian schools.

Part of Falwell's empire includes the grade school Lynchburg Academy, which could benefit from vouchers just as Liberty has taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.

Neither Trump or Falwell have mentioned any potential conflict of interest regarding Falwell's new position.

Sources: The Chronicle of Higher Education, Right Wing Watch (2), The News & Advance / Photo Credit: Liberty University

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