• Tue. Jul 26th, 2022

The nonprofit university’s think tank ran Facebook ads to “pray for our president,” with Donald Trump’s image.

Dec 14, 2020

Lamb, the Liberty spokesperson, said the Falkirk Center does plan to publish writing in the future.
While much of the Falkirk content is focused on digital branding, we have been building a pipeline of material for print publication in 2021 that includes writings from various Christian professors and researchers both at Liberty University and from around the country, Lamb said.
The ads featuring Trump and other politicians align with Falkirks mission because Falkirk needs to build an audience so it can educate and inform citizens about principles and core beliefs that are central to the Christian and Conservative worldview, Lamb said. The ad featuring Trump that said Pray For Our President will be a recurring ad or meme no matter what party sits in the White House, Lamb said, and is based on Bible verse.
One major Falkirk event, a two-day summit focused on China policy last July, was held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event featured interviews with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), among others.No Democrats werefeatured speakers at the event.
The Falkirk Center has also echoed Trumps line in dismissing governors stay-at-home orders and other safety recommendations related to the coronavirus.
The government has absolutely no authority to tell you if or how to celebrate Thanksgiving. Defy the petty tyrants and their foolish dictates, and go enjoy a time of Thanksgiving with your loved ones, read a November 19 Falkirk Center tweet.
The Falkirk Center took Liberty by storm at the same time as the university made cuts to some of its humanities programs, slashing the number of positions at its divinity school in 2019 and eliminating its philosophy department entirely in 2020. To former faculty like Baggett, the changes signaled that Liberty was trying to market itself to parents as a safety net place where [students] wont be challenged by liberal ideas.
All of these deep cuts are happening in humanities departments, departments that are dedicated to the intellectual life and thinking hard about complicated questions. Falkirk offers very very easy, simple answers, added Baggett, who taught English.
Think tanks have proliferated on college campuses in recent years as universities have looked for new ways to pull in new money from donors, especially conservatives looking for an ideological counterpoint to left-leaning academia. There is no official definition of what constitutes a think tank, but most such institutes such as Stanfords Hoover Institution focus on academics.
Over the course of the year, concerns have grown among faculty and administrators who noticed the Falkirk Center didnt seem to play much of a role on campus, two former Liberty officials told POLITICO. Its activities seemed aimed at messaging for the broader conservative movement, rather than educating Liberty students.
Some of the same faculty and administrators pointed to the universitys contributions of $2.2 million to Reeds Faith and Freedom Coalition and $300,000 each to Citizens United, the Christian activist group Vineyard Outreach America and Heritage Action, the lobbying affiliate of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
These are examples of Jerrys freewheeling, unchecked spending authority, said one former Liberty administrator. The interesting question moving forward would be, OK, so the board didnt know about these things in 2018, 2019 or 2020 would you permit them now? Should the Falkirk Center exist?
Though the organizations that received the donations have a conservative tilt, Lamb, the Liberty spokesperson, said the grants went towards a variety of activities that were nonpartisan, including voter education efforts on issues of importance to evangelical Christian conservatives, get-out-the-vote efforts for evangelical Christian conservatives, and legal action to promote government transparency, civil rights, and the proper interpretation of the Constitution.
But Liberty has a responsibility to ensure its funds help further the universitys educational mission and most universities steer clear of donations to groups that are as political as Reeds Faith & Freedom, said Marcus Owens, a nonprofit lawyer and former IRS attorney.
The organizations hes associated with are politically inclined, and thats unusual for a university, Owens said of Reed, a longtime GOP activist and former head of the Christian Coalition. It would seem to be difficult to fit that into a universitys educational mission its not promoting the education of the student body.
The IRS, however, has been reluctant to monitor donations and other activities that may reflect political agendas at institutions like Liberty. The reasons are multifold: A lack of resources, the 2013 Tea Party scandal in which the IRS was accused of unfairly targeting conservative groups and, more recently, because of the Trump administration, tax experts said.
Enforcement generally changes as the office changes. It depends on the interest of those in power, said Daniel Romano, who leads nonprofit services at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. They follow whatever marching orders they have.