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Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr. takes leave after social media uproar

Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from his role as president and chancellor of Liberty University, the school announced Friday.The private university issued a one-sentence statement making the announcement. The statement said the Executive Committee of Liberty’s board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met Friday and requested that Falwell take leave, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.” After a photo of Falwell was posted on his Instagram account, showing his underwear with his pants unzipped, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., called for him to step down, The Washington Post reported. The photo was deleted.The university’s statement did not indicate what prompted the request by the trustees.An early and high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, Falwell has served since 2007 as president of the university founded by his evangelist father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.In an interview this week with Lynchburg radio station WLNI, Falwell said the woman in the photo was his wife’s assistant and that the picture had been taken during a “costume party” while on vacation.“Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht,” the caption of the photo said, in part. “I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”He said the woman — who also had her midriff exposed — was pregnant, couldn’t get her pants zipped and he imitated her, saying it was all in “good fun.”“I’ve apologized to everybody, and I’ve promised my kids … I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out,” he said in the interview.In addition to Walker, some pastors who graduated from Liberty spoke out earlier this week calling for a change in leadership at the school. Mark Davis, a Texas-based pastor, tweeted that “the name of Christ and the reputation of Liberty will continue to be dishonored” without action against Falwell by the board. Colby Garman, a pastor who has served on the executive board of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, tweeted on Monday that it was “bewildering” to see Falwell maintain the board of trustees’ support. He responded to Friday’s news with appreciation.“How is this Jerry Falwell Jr. photo even real?” tweeted conservative TV personality Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “Also if you’re running the largest Christian university in America maybe don’t put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht — with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical.”The late Falwell founded Liberty in 1971 with just 154 students. Under the leadership of Falwell Jr., who is an attorney and not a minister, Liberty has grown into a leading evangelical university, with an immaculate campus and a significant endowment. Students must follow a strict code of conduct that includes modest dress and a ban on alcohol consumption.Hearst TV contributed to this report.

Jerry Falwell Jr. has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from his role as president and chancellor of Liberty University, the school announced Friday.

The private university issued a one-sentence statement making the announcement. The statement said the Executive Committee of Liberty’s board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met Friday and requested that Falwell take leave, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”

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After a photo of Falwell was posted on his Instagram account, showing his underwear with his pants unzipped, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., called for him to step down, The Washington Post reported. The photo was deleted.

The university’s statement did not indicate what prompted the request by the trustees.

An early and high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, Falwell has served since 2007 as president of the university founded by his evangelist father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

In an interview this week with Lynchburg radio station WLNI, Falwell said the woman in the photo was his wife’s assistant and that the picture had been taken during a “costume party” while on vacation.

“Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht,” the caption of the photo said, in part. “I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

He said the woman — who also had her midriff exposed — was pregnant, couldn’t get her pants zipped and he imitated her, saying it was all in “good fun.”

“I’ve apologized to everybody, and I’ve promised my kids … I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out,” he said in the interview.

In addition to Walker, some pastors who graduated from Liberty spoke out earlier this week calling for a change in leadership at the school. Mark Davis, a Texas-based pastor, tweeted that “the name of Christ and the reputation of Liberty will continue to be dishonored” without action against Falwell by the board. Colby Garman, a pastor who has served on the executive board of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, tweeted on Monday that it was “bewildering” to see Falwell maintain the board of trustees’ support. He responded to Friday’s news with appreciation.

“How is this Jerry Falwell Jr. photo even real?” tweeted conservative TV personality Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “Also if you’re running the largest Christian university in America maybe don’t put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht — with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical.”

The late Falwell founded Liberty in 1971 with just 154 students. Under the leadership of Falwell Jr., who is an attorney and not a minister, Liberty has grown into a leading evangelical university, with an immaculate campus and a significant endowment. Students must follow a strict code of conduct that includes modest dress and a ban on alcohol consumption.

Hearst TV contributed to this report.

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