LYNCHBURG, Va. — A top board member of Liberty University says he was forced out of his position for expressing objection to President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Donald Trump, as Falwell declared the presidential candidate a Christian despite showing no fruit of being converted.
As previously reported, Mark DeMoss, the founder of the Atlanta-based public relations firm DeMoss, has served as the chairman of Liberty University’s executive committee for 25 years.
In speaking with the Washington Post in February, DeMoss remarked that that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was a “mistake” as the Republican presidential candidate’s life runs contrary to the values of the school, which heralds itself as the world’s largest Christian university.
“I’ve been concerned for Liberty University for a couple of months now, and I’ve held my tongue,” he said.
As previously reported, in recent months, Falwell has repeatedly sought to assure the American people of the mud-slinging, foul-mouthed candidate’s Christianity, pointing to Trump’s charitableness as being the “fruit” that Jesus spoke of that characterizes a man who is born again.
“I’ve seen his generosity to strangers, to his employees, his warm relationship with his children,” he said on CNN’s “Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield” last month. “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,” Falwell also stated on Fox’s “Hannity.”
“Matthew 7:16 tells us that ‘By your fruits you shall know them.’ Donald Trump’s life has borne fruit,” he told students during Trump’s appearance at Liberty University in January. “Fruit that has provided jobs to multitudes of people, in addition to the many he has helped with his generosity.”
“In my opinion, Mr. Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment,” Falwell declared.
But in speaking with the Washington Post, DeMoss, took issue with Trump’s ongoing practice of name-calling and trash-talking those who stand in his way.
“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss explained. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defense, and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”
He additionally outlined that he was concerned that Falwell compared Trump to his father, the late Jerry Falwell, Sr.
“It bothered me that he said Donald Trump reminded him of his father,” DeMoss stated. “Donald Trump certainly does not demonstrate Jerry Falwell, Sr.’s graciousness and love for people. Jerry Falwell Sr. would never have made fun of a political opponent’s face or makeup or ears. He would not have personally insulted anybody—ever.”
He said that he wished to go public about the matter in order to be a voice for others at Liberty who are concerned about Falwell’s endorsement, noting that even one former student mailed back his diploma in disgust.
But now, DeMoss says that he was soon forced out of his position on the board over his remarks to the Washington Post.
“Jerry and a number of fellow Liberty University trustees expressed to me and to the other trustees their disapproval of my speaking publicly about the subject,” he told Warren Throckmorton of Patheos this week. “At our April 21 executive committee meeting, the committee voted to ask me to resign from the committee I had chaired for many years. I agreed, and did so in remarks to the full board the following morning.”
“Subsequently, on Monday, April 25, I sent a letter to Jerry and the chairman of the board and the new chairman of the executive committee, tendering my resignation from the board I had served for 25 years,” he said.
Liberty University denies that it formally asked DeMoss to resign and says that he was rather asked to stay—with an apology.
“While members of the Executive Committee individually asked Mark DeMoss to resign from the Executive Committee, no vote was ever taken by the Executive Committee to ask Mark DeMoss to resign. On Thursday, April 21, he was encouraged by members of the Executive Committee to remain on the Board and apologize to the Board,” an unidentified representative told Throckmorton.
“At the Board of Trustees meeting the following day, Mark DeMoss offered an apology to the Board and tendered his resignation from the Executive Committee. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the apology of Mark DeMoss in the Christian spirit of love and grace,” the university stated.
It said that DeMoss then submitted his resignation four days after the meeting.
“He was not removed from the Board of Trustees nor did the Board of Trustees ask for his resignation,” it asserted.
But DeMoss says this is not the case as he was never asked by the board to apologize—only by Falwell weeks earlier—but was rather contacted by the university attorney and advised that if he did not resign, he would be voted out.
“I was not encouraged by members of the Executive Committee to remain on the board; Jerry Jr. was the only committee member who spoke to me that evening—after they had the attorney [Liberty’s general counsel] call and ask for my committee resignation,” he told Throckmorton.
“The committee said nothing to me about apologizing to the board the next morning. Jerry had suggested that two months earlier and I told him I would do so in person at the April 22 meeting,” DeMoss also noted.
He said that he did not tender his resignation during the board meeting, but informed them of his action.
“I tendered my resignation the night before to the attorney who called me on behalf of the committee,” DeMoss explained. “He told me if I chose not to resign they would vote to remove me [from the committee].”