Liberty U Executive Committee Chair Asked to Resign After Criticizing Falwell Jr.'s Trump Endrosement

Donald Trump, Jerry Falwell Jr.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. at a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, January 31, 2016. |

Liberty University executive committee board chairman Mark DeMoss, a former aid of the late Jerry Falwell Sr., claims that he was asked to resign months after he voiced opposition to Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr.'s endorsement of Donald Trump.

In early early March, the former executive committee chairman of Liberty University's Board of Directors criticized Falwell's endorsement of Trump. Evangelicals who back Trump, such as Falwell, will have a hard time explaining their support because Trump does not exhibit the "Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students," he added.

DeMoss, who worked for Jerry Falwell Sr. from 1984 until 1991, was concerned about the direction of the Lynchburg, Virginia school, and was troubled that Falwell Jr. would compare Trump to his late father while introducing the Republican presidential candidate for his Liberty University speech in January.

DeMoss' comments quickly received backlash from Falwell Jr.'s wife, Becki Falwell, who took to Facebook to defend her husband's endorsement. She later told The Christian Post that Christians shouldn't attack one-another over their political views.

Noticing DeMoss' name was removed from the list of Liberty University trustees, Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton asked the school to clarify what had happened to DeMoss and was told that DeMoss had resigned on April 26.

Liberty University's statement to Throckmorton said DeMoss resigned four days after Liberty's most recent convening of the board of trustees. The statement added that he was not removed from the board, nor did the board ask him to resign.

However, DeMoss told Throckmorton that after his comments on the Trump endorsement were published, Falwell Jr. and a number of Liberty trustees expressed their disapproval with him expressing his opinion on the matter. He added that he was asked to resign from the executive committee.

"I agreed, and did so in remarks to the full board the following morning," DeMoss was quoted as saying. "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."

Donald Trump, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. after speaking in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. |

Throckmorton asked Liberty to issue a statement on DeMoss' claim that he was asked to step down from the committee. The school then acknowledged that some of the executive committee members personally asked DeMoss to resign but it was never a formal request by the committee as a whole.

"On Thursday, April 21, he was encouraged by members of the Executive Committee to remain on the Board and apologize to the Board," the statement reads. "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."

In another statement to Patheos, DeMoss claimed that although he was not asked to resign from the board, he was "not encouraged" by committee members to remain on the board. He added that the committee never asked him to apologize.

"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," DeMoss wrote. "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."

In an interview with Religion News Service, DeMoss further clarified his resignation by asserting that the decision to leave the committee he chaired was not his, but the decision to resign from the board was. DeMoss, a former senior advisor to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, added that he was accused of being too "political" in his Washington Post interview.

"The president/chancellor and the board chair and new executive committee chair were suggesting my motive for speaking to the Post was entirely political (that I was a political pawn of rival campaigns), rather than a genuine concern for the reputation of the university we trustees have (had) a fiduciary responsibility to protect," DeMoss explained. "I concluded if they could not accept the reasons I gave them there was not sufficient trust to continue serving together."

As the school has maintained that Falwell's endorsement of Trump does not represent the views of the school, Throckmorton points out an apparent hypocrisy displayed by the committee members in asking DeMoss to resign.

"As I consider the matter, I wonder why it is acceptable to the Liberty board for Jerry Falwell to endorse a candidate as an individual not speaking for the university, but it is not fine for a board member to express an opinion as an individual not speaking for the university," he states.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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