CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A county school board in Virginia recently sent a letter to the Virginia High School League (VHSL) to urge the organization to discontinue hosting state championships at the Liberty University over President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s recent statements about “ending Muslims” with guns.
“We are deeply disturbed by the comments of Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. … urging more than 10,000 of his assembled students to obtain handguns and stating that ‘we could end those Muslims before they walked in,'” the letter from the Fairfax County School Board to the Charlottesville-based organization, dated April 28, reads.
As previously reported, some raised concern over the spirit of Falwell’s comments this past December, which were made in light of the San Bernardino massacre in California. Falwell urged students to obtain concealed carry permits so that they would be ready to take out Muslims intent on murder should they show up at Liberty University.
“I’ve always thought, if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them,” he stated, receiving unreserved applause.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
He went on to reTweet social media posts in support of his remarks, including one that read, “S*CK IT, Muslim extremists,” adding a link to the school’s gun course. The account of the original Tweeter is now unavailable.
But some, while noting that they support the Second Amendment, disagreed with the spirit and nature of how Falwell expressed his views.
“I think Falwell has made the situation more tense rather than less tense by his choice of language,” one online commenter wrote.
“I’m trying to imagine Jesus saying what Jerry Falwell Jr. said,” another stated. “I’m having trouble. I don’t think Jesus would be big on the tough talk or brag about the gun he’s carrying.”
The Fairfax County School Board especially took offense at Falwell’s remarks, and noted in its letter to VHSL that some students in the district recently chose to boycott the Virginia Debate Championship because it was held at Liberty University.
“We stand in solidarity with our students who chose to boycott the State Debate Championship on April 22-23 as a result of these comments,” it wrote. “At the same time, we find it unfair that our students were put in a position of forsaking their participation in a state championship because of the unwelcoming environment of the host institution.”
While the League ultimately voted on Thursday to move state championships from Liberty University, it says that the school board’s letter was not a deciding factor.
“The discussion was more about cost and travel time,” said Robert E. Lee Principal Mark Rowicki told the News Leader. “If one charges you $25,000 to use it, but another charges $15,000, most would vote for the less-expensive option.”
“We were trying to do this economically,” confirmed executive director Ken Tilly. “We were looking at moving events around, for geographic purposes to balance the events.”
However, Waynesboro High School Principal Tim Teachey did mention Falwell’s comments in telling reporters, “I think the VHSL has a history of working with Liberty, which has nice facilities and has always taken care of people at our event, but it’s hard to ignore comments from its leader that caused so much angst, and I understand the concerns of people around the state.”
Neither Rowicki or Teachey were present Thursday for the vote.
“I take the VHSL at its word when it stated … neither Liberty’s gun policy, nor my statements about the terrorist attack in San Bernardino had anything to do with the VHSL’s decision,” Falwell said in a statement following the decision.
He told reporters in December following controversy over his remarks that he didn’t regret his statements per se, but would have inserted the word “extremists” to clarify.