The fox in the henhouse: Creationist leads Trump’s education task force

I’m a few days late with this news, and needn’t say much about how ridiculous this is, but last Thursday, Liberty University, a fundamentalist Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, announced that its President, Jerry Falwell, Jr. would head up an “education task force” for President Tr*mp. (Fallwell, Jr. is the son of the notorious Jerry Falwell Senior, who founded Liberty in 1971.) That task force is apparently designed to “deregulate” higher education, rolling back some changes enacted by the Obama administration.

Now both Falwells were creationists, and Liberty University adheres to creationism. That is public knowledge, but it’s also supported by this tw**t showing one of Liberty’s textbooks.

It’s not clear whether Falwell, Jr. will have any input into school curricula, but, as the New York Times reports, being on the task force may constitute a conflict of interest for him, as Liberty University has four times more online students than students who actually attend the University physically, and many of these default on their loans. The task force, by loosening the regulations that require universities to disclose default rates and dismantling other federal laws, may benefit the reputation of Liberty, a school that appears to be even more of a scam than I thought:

[Liberty] enrolls about 14,000 students, most of whom are evangelical Christians, at its residential campus in Lynchburg, Va. But it also enrolls an additional 65,000 students online. Most colleges now have a mix of residential and online students, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online students as residential students.

Because internet courses are cheap to deliver at scale, the online division is a big revenue driver for Liberty, which brought in $591 million in tuition in 2013, against $470 million in expenses. Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns a huge for-profit college.

. . . Liberty’s marketing and recruitment are driven by an 800-person telemarketing call center in a former Sears department store near the main campus.

Most of the tuition for Liberty’s online students comes from financial aid provided by the federal Department of Education, the same body that Mr. Falwell says is engaged in “overreaching regulation.”

In 2015, Liberty received $347 million from federal undergraduate grant and loan programs. Few other private nonprofit colleges receive anything like that sum. To put the amount in perspective, the highly regarded University of Virginia, a nearby state university, received $37 million from the same sources that year. Arizona State, the nation’s largest public university, received $169 million. Liberty’s considerable financial success — it has built a $1 billion cash reserve, and Mr. Falwell is paid more than $900,000 a year — was underwritten largely by the federal taxpayer.

Liberty also has a huge student loan default rate—about 1.5 times the national average—and although the “nonprofit” school pays no taxes, and is already exempt from some of the Obama regulations, rolling back those regulations will still make Liberty look better. And all that is beside the ignominy of having a fundamentalist Baptist creationist heading up an education task force.


  1. GBJames
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “…being on the task force may constitute a conflict of interest…”

    Having conflicts of interest seems to be a requirement for working in the Trump administration.

  2. Fernando Peregrin
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Don’t wory, dear Jerry. I’ll put you and others lika you in muy list for the Intercessory Prayer to Wotan that I perform every night at my bedside

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    “… an 800-person telemarketing call center in a former Sears department store …”

    Post-indictment, those are usually referred to as “boiler rooms.”

    Regarding the Liberty U student-loan default rates, whatever happened to the part about rendering unto Caesar?

  4. Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    In 2015, Liberty received $347 million from federal undergraduate grant and loan programs.

    Well, that right there tells you that putting Falwell in charge is but the least of our worries. That Liberty even got accredited in the first place is the fundamental problem; that it gets twice the money as ASU tells us that it’s dead, Jim. It isn’t that the fox is in the henhouse; it’s that the foxes are fighting each other over the last hen.

    Is it any wonder that people with fake degrees who were brought up to believe fake science can’t tell fake news from alternative facts?

    It’s no coincidence that America’s rise to greatness and its subsequent fall directly echoes the value place in and the strength of our educational system. We’re at least a generation away from any hope of a resurgence; before then, we need to invest in mandatory fact-based education for all — the diametric opposite of vouchers for religious schools where no child’s behind is left.

    Gonna be a long and bumpy stretch of road….



    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Well said. The only thing I see missing at this so-called school is a football team. Maybe they just play on line?

      • allison
        Posted February 7, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        Liberty has a football team which plays in the Big South Conference at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision level. They have been an above average team during the last decade or so.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Like Jesus (Luke 2:49), Falwell junior was clearly called to go “about my father’s business” — which, in the case of the Falwells, is politicking and the long con.

  6. busterggi
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Why not just hit every child in the head with a baseball bat when they turn four? It will have the same result as religion-based ‘teaching’ and be cheaper.

  7. Peter
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as education secretary; so you’ll have a creationist as education secretary, thanks to the tie-breaking vote vote of Mike Pence, creationist.

  8. Peter
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    The Reformed newspaper in the Netherlands (creationist of course) had no doubts about it: “Ze is overtuigd aanhanger van het scheppingsverhaal en om die reden stellen Dick en Betsy DeVos regelmatig geld beschikbaar voor de verbreiding van het creationisme”
    Roughly: “She is a full-fledged supporter of the creation story and therefore Dick and Betsy DeVos regularly fund initiatives for the spread of creationism”

  9. darrelle
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    That really pisses me off. Not that Falwell Jr is head of Trumps education task force. Liberty U bringing in $347 million in tax payer money. What happened to that wall? This is nauseating. Time to break out the enemas and deflate these scumbags.

  10. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    What more to add? The stench rises to the top, we see.

    • Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      The fish starts stinking from the head, as the proverb says.

  11. Kevin
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    What advantage is there to learning engineering + Christianity? No one will get a plane to fly or medicine to be effective with Christian dogma. The import of religious ideas is a waste of time and money, but is it any longer harmful?

    Society is so deeply entrenched with science and engineering at a fundamental level that the only place to escape with creationism is with other like-minded creationists. Mainstream America, in particular, has mostly quarantined these people.

    Polls that suggest strong numbers of supporters of intelligent design are anonymous. Public demonstration for Christian based science is virtually non-existent compared to other public demonstrations. Almost no one is proud of being a creationist. It’s a private matter, because it’s embarrassing and the majority of them know it.

  12. Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    All this is just because nobody is punching creationists in the face!

  13. Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  14. Tom
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Many states here in Europe have already made the offer to take in all your top scientists, mathematicians, engineers etc.
    Remember our promise
    “Give us your best brains yearning to be free!”

  15. Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Journal Edge.

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