Donald Trump met with Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of a university whose honor code reportedly issues punishments for those who have an abortion or help someone obtain one, to discuss education last week under the president-elect’s administration.
Falwell confirmed Friday that he had met with Trump in New York City the day before. The two met “to discuss the U.S. Department of Education and Falwell’s potential role,” but Falwell would not say whether he was being vetted for the position as secretary of education, reported the Associated Press. He did, however, say he would “definitely play a role” in the president-elect’s administration.
Having endorsed Trump during the Republican primary in January, Falwell stood loyally behind the Republican even as he received harsh criticism from many in Liberty University’s student body over his support.
In a January op-ed for the Washington Post discussing his endorsement of Trump, Falwell noted that “my view of the world is colored by my legal and business experiences at Liberty”—a potentially alarming prospect given the beliefs apparently pushed on the university’s campus.
Become a subscriber
Press freedoms are under attack now, more than ever.
While direct access to Liberty University’s student honor code is password-protected on the school’s website, Fusion in September 2015 obtained an updated copy from a source connected to Liberty. Tucked away with rules cautioning students against watching R-rated movies and instructing women to wear dresses “no shorter than two inches above the knee” is a line prohibiting students from receiving abortion care.
Among a list of the breaches of conduct that can earn a student some of the school’s harshest sanctions is a prohibition on “procuring/financing/facilitating/obtaining an abortion.” Doing so will earn students “30 Points (+ $500.00 Fine, 30 Hours Disciplinary Community Service, & Possible Administrative Withdrawal).”
The school’s policy of punishing students who have or aid in having an abortion harken back to Trump’s comments that abortion patients should face “some form of punishment” should the medical procedure become illegal. Trump, after flip-flopping on the issue, eventually said he believed that doctors, not abortion patients, should be punished.
Elsewhere in the Liberty handbook is a section seemingly banning “sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman.” The university has hosted an anti-LGBTQ conference aimed at “addressing homosexuality and its consequences.”
Liberty University filed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, which requires health insurance plans to cover contraception as preventative care without co-pays. The suit claimed that the university’s rights were violated by requiring it to purchase insurance that it falsely claimed caused abortions, such as IUDs and emergency contraception.
Speaking at the school’s convocation ceremony last December, Falwell called on students to obtain concealed carry permits in response to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, despite the fact that there is no evidence these kinds of shootings could be stopped by a heavily armed public.
“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them,” he said.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” Falwell told the students. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”