Tip Sheets

Falwell behavior, hypocrisy to damage religious credibility

Media Contact

Rachel Rhodes

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned this week amid several scandals that include his posting of a provocative photo and his alleged involvement in extramarital activity that some feel was not in keeping with the university’s code of conduct. Falwell Jr. has led Liberty University, founded by his late father Jerry Falwell Sr., since 2007 and is a prominent conservative Christian leader.

Landon Schnabel

Robert and Ann Rosenthal Assistant Professor of Sociology

Landon Schnabel, assistant professor of sociology at Cornell University, is writing a book titled “Is Faith Feminine? What Americans Really Think about Gender and Religion,” which will consider the ways religions are gender-typed and how religion suppresses gender differences in politics.

Schnabel says:

“Jerry Falwell Jr.'s forced resignation highlights the tensions that can arise when religion and politics are entangled. Falwell was entrenched in an almost unassailable position of authority within American evangelicalism because of a close relationship with President Trump and because his father, Jerry Falwell Sr., helped shaped the Christian Right.

“The rise of the Christian Right was a key factor in pushing many liberals and moderates away from organized religion. The restrictive and judgmental sexual politics of the Christian Right were a driving force behind the rapid rise of religious ‘nones’ disenchanted with religious institutions. The potential for perceived hypocrisy in the scandals leading to Falwell Jr.’s forced resignation will likely lead to further disenchantment with politicized religion in the United States.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.