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Tag: Jerry Falwell Jr

Liberty University Ignores Counseling Intern Sarah Leitner’s Abuse Claims, Expels Her Instead

sarah leitner

Sarah Leitner is a regular commenter on this blog. What follows is her story about being abused while a counseling intern and how Liberty University ignored her personal and legal appeals for help. You can read more about Sarah’s story at the Thou Art the Man blog.

From Fall 2015 to February 2016, as a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision student [at Liberty University], I was a counseling intern at a Navy brig. Due to my site supervisor’s actions, I feared for my life on two occasions, leading to PTSD. Many other occasions were filled with lower levels of abuse. Simultaneously, my daughter’s mental crises worsened leaving me with constant crises at an abusive internship site and constant crises at home.

Dr. [Melvin] Pride, the Clinical Supervisor at Liberty University and part of the leadership of the Counselor Education and Supervision program, refused to assist, even as I described the unsafe situation in multiple emails, including an email in mid-February 2016 where I explicitly stated I was not safe. Often it seemed as if Dr. Pride did not read my emails as he responded late or not at all. Sometimes he would respond to crises with irrelevant statements, such as how busy he was, instead of responding and/or removing me from the internship site. When I resigned from the site in February 2016, Liberty University continued to deny the abuse had occurred. I wondered how a professor who was supposed to have at least some experience with counseling trauma could miss the traumatic experiences I was undergoing, experiences that made me feel as if I was an indentured servant at the internship site.

In Fall 2016, after asking for an investigation from the department, Title IX, and multiple other departments of the University, I reluctantly went to a second internship site. Simultaneously, in Fall 2016 I filed a complaint with the Inspector General for the Bureau of Personnel (IG BUPERS) and again attempted to file Title IX within Liberty University. The Interim Dean of the School of Behavioral Sciences, Dr. [Steve] Warren, agreed, in writing, to postpone the final grade appeal until the IG Report was complete.

However, Dean [Lisa] Sosin, part of the Ph.D. program’s leadership, falsely told the IG that I had not reported abuse until I left the internship site. Based on this as well as statements from the offenders, the IG closed the complaint in late December 2016.

Simultaneous to the IG investigation, in November 2016, I attempted to withdraw from the internship course, now taught by Dr. [Mary] Deacon, due to the PTSD and my daughter’s quickly deteriorating mental health. The request was quickly denied. I was forced to continue the internship. I would find out later that Dr. Sosin had told the Investigator that I had not said I had been abused at the site while I was at the internship, despite the many emails I had sent to her and the department.

Around December 5, 2016, days after I found out my child was not safe at school and had been assaulted daily at camp in Summer 2015, Dr. Sosin and the leadership of the Ph.D. program – likely Dr. Deacon and Dr. Pride – sent me a letter of concern with many inaccurate statements. The letter also stated that all of my grade appeals were over even though one was remaining. When I emailed Dr. Sosin, I was not allowed to dispute the inaccuracies. I abandoned the last, final appeal with Dean Warren because I believed I would be expelled if I continued that appeal.

From late November 2016 to January 2017, I was an intern for Win4Life, working at Shield Ministries. This was arranged because most Shield Ministry clients lacked transportation to come to Win4Life. Dr. Deacon and Dr. Pride were notified of this in December 2016 and did not reply. In December 2016, my supervisor at Win4Life and I met with Shield Ministries discuss how Win4Life could work with Shield Ministries in the future beyond my internship. At that point, my supervisor at Win4Life, myself, and Liberty University did not know that David Truluck was a sex offender as he was not forthcoming with this information. In late January, David Truluck of Shield Ministries texted me, telling me that he had to get board approval for me to be an intern there.

February 2017: My licensure supervisor and I notified Dr. Deacon that the Win4Life partnership with Shield Ministries would be dissolved due to the actions of an erratic individual (David Truluck). Even though Dr. Deacon and Dr. Pride had previously been appraised of the situation in two emails, and had responded to one of the emails, in February 2017 Dr. Deacon and Dr. Pride chose to expel me from the Ph.D. program when David Truluck at Shield Ministries denied a contract with Win4Life existed. Liberty University decided that Shield Ministries had been an “unauthorized” internship site, even though at that time Liberty University gave no guidelines or examples in the course manual that would give me, Win4Life, or any other individual any reason to believe I was at an unauthorized internship site. Although my supervisor at Win4Life and my licensure supervisor both spoke to Liberty University on my behalf, Liberty University refused to change its decision.

In Fall 2017, the official grade appeal process was completed. I attempted to file with Title IX on at least two more occasions. In early Spring 2019, due to a FERPA request, I received additional documentation from Liberty. The documentation I received from Liberty University due to my FERPA request was extensive, repetitive, often incorrect, and missing key details. Thus I do not believe this documentation was in compliance with federal law. I also found out, much to my surprise, that Liberty University had decided I had been “unethical” because I didn’t have a license as a counselor – when I did have one!

As my attempts to seek justice and to ensure the safety of future Liberty University students, I emailed Jerry Falwell on October 21, 2018, notifying him that I had been “ordered to return to an internship site where I was not safe,” and “was not allowed to withdraw from the internship course when I found out my child was not safe at school and had been sexually assaulted every day at camp 15 months earlier.” Furthermore, I asked Jerry Falwell, “How is it okay that mentioning a safety issue means I went round and round with the university and no department at the University has authority to do anything?”

Jerry Falwell responded on October 25, 2018, stating: “I have looked into this situation and understand that there are several trustworthy people at the University that have already been diligent in working with you. …” — which left me wondering who these people were.

On October 26, 2018, David Corry, general counsel for Liberty University, responded to me via email, stating: “…I am also aware of your allegations regarding our faculty interactions with the Inspector General… We are satisfied that at this time all your concerns have been handled and addressed appropriately…. Under the circumstances, any future communications you send may not be responded to by the University. We wish you well.”

Sarah is taking legal action against Liberty University. You can read Dr. Charlotte Murrow Taylor’s report about Sarah’s claims here.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Why Jerry Falwell, Jr. Has an Ongoing Bromance with Donald Trump

trump aftershock stephen strang

For over two years now people have been asking me why I supported Donald Trump as a candidate for president of the United States and why I continue to support him now in his role as the chief executive of our great nation. After all, I was one of the only people from the evangelical camp who endorsed Mr. Trump even before the Iowa caucuses. I determined early on that what ailed the United States would require more than a PR and policy bandage. And if Trump were to get elected, he would need more than bandwagon support.

But to answer the question about my support, much of my motivation came from my background in business. My father came from a family of businesspeople who were not Christians, including my grandfather. But a series of personal tragedies resulted in his early death at the age of 55. My dad was only 15 at the time, and he became a Christian because of those sorrowful events. I think he might have gone into the family business if those things hadn’t happened. The point is that though the world knows the Falwell name chiefly in the context of my famous clergyman father, most Falwells have been successful entrepreneurs—businessmen and businesswomen.

Even in the context of a nonprofit organization such as Liberty University, I have seen firsthand what applying business principles can do to save an organization. In the late 1980s and 1990s, when donations dried up, we had to create a business model that would keep Liberty alive. In the end not only did we eliminate the debt; we also prospered enough that we’ve now fulfilled many of the original visions my father had for this university. But Liberty’s success didn’t come through hazy or lazy leadership.

So that’s why I supported Donald Trump early, because the United States is drowning in $21 trillion of debt. Trump is a businessman. We haven’t had many businessmen who have become president. Instead, we get career politicians who are short on transformative thinking and long on political career preservation. Even though Trump hadn’t even decided what all his political views were at that time, I knew that a pragmatic businessman with common sense would come down on the right side of issues. Trump wanted to do what was best for the country. And if you start with that desire—to do what’s best for the country and for the common man—then you have no choice but to be a conservative. It’s that simple.

I’m proud I supported Donald Trump. And since he’s entered the White House, I’ve stayed in close touch with him, talking to him about once a month. It has become a close friendship. I’m so pleased with how he’s kept his promises. He’s appointed justices to the lower courts and the Supreme Court who I believe will uphold the Constitution. On matters related to religious liberty, the president has been a godsend. And his deregulation strategies have brought about prosperity for businesses and the American worker. He’s done all the things he said he was going to do—even with all the attempts to thwart his administration by fake Republicans in the Senate and all the folks on the left who will stop at nothing to overthrow a duly elected president.

You see, we needed somebody with resolve and backbone. Republicans and Democrats—the parties had become so much alike that you really couldn’t tell the difference. Many of them were—and still are—so scared of their shadow and criticism from the press that they waffle on every issue. They put their finger up and see which way the wind is blowing.

But Trump just marches ahead. He doesn’t care how much criticism comes his way. And the people don’t care either. The people don’t care what the press say anymore because they’ve lost all credibility. That’s what Americans have longed to see in their president—somebody who will stand up for the country, stand up for what’s right and not back down in the face of adversity.

Like Stephen Strang does in this book, I compare Trump to Winston Churchill during World War II. Everything looked lost in the face of the onslaught of Hitler’s military might. Churchill had to resolve to move ahead anyhow and to never quit. That’s what I see in Donald Trump, and I think that’s why people support him in spite of all the negatives that get thrown at him.

In this new book by my friend Stephen Strang, you will come to a great understanding of all that has been happening since election night. Strang shows how President Trump has exceeded the expectations of his supporters. And Strang reveals how the left, instead of acknowledging the genuine successes of the Trump administration, are growing in their animus toward the president. Refusing to acknowledge the roaring economy and a renewed sense of optimism and national pride, some on the left (and some on the right) are succumbing to “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” And so the rift between the left and the right has grown deep, and our national politics are more polarized than ever.

But Strang’s book strikes a chord of hopefulness because he believes (as do I) that these days are some of the most extraordinary times in the life of our nation. You’ll enjoy Trump Aftershock. But even more, it will prompt you to pray and work in your own community to “make America great again.”

Jerry Falwell Jr.
President, Liberty University
Lynchburg, Virginia

— Jerry Falwell, Jr, Forward to Stephen “I’ve Got a Book to Sell” Strang’s newest book, Trump Aftershock

You can buy Trump Aftershock here. I am sure regular readers of this blog will want to run out and buy themselves a copy. That’s sarcasm, by the way.

Video Link

One Year Later: How Many Pastors Have Been Forced to Marry Same-Sex Couples?

jerry falwell jr and donald trump
Fundamentalist Baptist Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Christian Donald Trump

A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, invalidating federal and state laws that defined marriage solely as the union of a man and a woman. Evangelical, Catholic, and Mormon culture warriors warned that the Supreme Court’s ruling would pave the way for forcing pastors, priests and elders to marry same-sex couples. Warning that pastors would soon be jailed for refusing to perform such marriages, these defenders of heterosexual marriage began working at the state level to pass laws that would exempt pastors, priests, and elders from marrying gay couples. These hysterical laws were/are little more than lame attempts by conservative (Republican) legislators to show Evangelical voters that they are still battling the secularists and atheists who want to outlaw Christianity.

Remember Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, saying:

That [refusing to perform same-sex marriages] may mean we experience jail time, loss of tax exempt status, but as the scripture says, we ought to obey God rather than man, and that’s our choice.

Or Baptist pastor Rick Scarborough telling a radio audience:

…[the clergy must] resist all government efforts to require them to accept gay marriage, and they will accept any fine and jail time to protect their religious freedom and the freedom of others.

And former Presidential candidate and Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee warning pastors:

If the courts rule that people have a civil right – not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage – then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor, who believes in Biblical marriage, who says, ‘I can’t perform that wedding,’ will now be breaking the law.

Ominous, indeed. Surely, a year later scores of pastors have been arrested and jailed for refusing to perform same-sex marriages, right?

Just today, Americans United For Separation of Church and State — a group I proudly support — posted a list of those pastors arrested and jailed for refusing to marry same-sex couples. Are you ready to see the list? Here it is:

number of pastors arrested

That’s right, not one pastor has been arrested or jailed for refusing to marry a same-sex couple. Why? Because it has NEVER been against the law to do so. Pastors, priests, and elders have always been free to refuse to perform the marriage ceremonies of couples who do not meet their personal or ecclesiastical marriage standards. Sects, churches, and pastors are free to marry whomever they wish. As long as the U.S. Constitution remains in its current form, conservative Christian churches will have the legal right to not only refuse to marry same-sex couples, but also to bar gays from being members of their congregations. Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons — along with every other religious sect — are free to discriminate at will.

Evangelical blowhards such as Robert Jeffress, Rick Scarborough, and Mike Huckabee are shameless liars for Jesus. These culture warriors only care about one thing, political power. This is why these very same men spent yesterday on their knees — not praying — but performing fellatio on Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. These warriors are so shameless that they have convinced themselves that Trump is a Christian. Several months ago, Jerry Falwell, Jr. stated unequivocally  that Trump is a member of Team Jesus®:

I’ve seen his generosity to strangers, to his employees, his warm relationship with his children. I’m convinced he’s a Christian. I believe he has faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve had conversations with him just within the past few weeks about his faith, and I have no doubts he is a man of faith and he’s a Christian.

Evangelicals are busy now with plans to put “Christian” Trump in the Oval Office. Once their candidate is thoroughly trounced by Hillary Clinton, these liars for Jesus will return to the culture battlefield, once again trying to capitalize on the fears of their constituents. War on Christmas! Transgender Bathroom Use! Homosexuals Preying on Children! Prayer in the Public Schools! Creationism! President Clinton Taking Away Religious Freedom!

As in past years, pastors and church leaders will indeed be arrested, but not for marrying same-sex couples. These men of God will make the front pages of their local newspapers, arrested for crimes such as child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, sexual misconduct, and sundry other crimes. These issues will be shoved under the rug, replaced by fake outrages and boycotts. These liars for Jesus will continue to reveal that at the heart of conservative Christianity lies hatred, bigotry, homophobia, and racism.