Liberty U Drops Recognition of Democratic Club; Falwell Files Complaint Against AU
by Lateefah Williams*
Jun 1, 2009
Liberty University (LU), a private, tax-exempt university founded by the late Evangelical Rev. Jerry Falwell, dropped official recognition of the university’s Democrat club due to the National Democratic Party’s platform on abortion and marriage equality, according to its Chancellor Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr. Without official recognition the club cannot receive funding from the University or use the University’s name on anything affiliated with the club.
Mark Vine, LU’s Vice President for Student Affairs, sent the LU College Democrats an email on May 15 revoking recognition for the LU College Democrats chapter. The email says that the "Democratic Party Platform is contrary to the mission of LU and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, Hate Crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc)."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) sent a letter to the IRS asking the agency to review Liberty University’s tax-exempt status. AU’s letter highlights that the University allows the Republican club to receive official recognition and funding. In an AU press release, Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of AU said, "Liberty University is a tax-exempt institution and isn’t allowed to support one party over another. If the school insists on pushing policies that favor Republicans over Democrats, it should have to surrender its tax exemption." There is a gubernatorial primary in Virginia on June 9, which raises the question about whether LU’s action could be intended to affect the outcome of an election, although the issue has not been raised.
Liberty Counsel filed an IRS complaint, on behalf of Fallwell, today against AU. In a Press Release on May 28, Liberty announced its plans to file a complaint against AU today, alleging in the Press Release that AU is politically biased and files "these letters to silence churches and other conservative organizations by intimidating them."
AU has called Falwell’s complaint baseless. "Falwell knows full well that Americans United is rigorously non-partisan," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn in a Press Release. "He’s feeling the heat for a bad decision and trying to shift the focus to Americans United."back to Blog