Jerry Falwell Jr: Trump ally leaves university post after uproar at picture with unzipped trousers

High profile evangelical Christian said pose on yacht was just 'good fun'

Phil Thomas
New York
Saturday 08 August 2020 01:19 BST
Jerry Falwell campaigned with Mr Trump in Davenport, Iowa, in January 2016
Jerry Falwell campaigned with Mr Trump in Davenport, Iowa, in January 2016 (Reuters)

Jerry Falwell Jr, a key ally of Donald Trump and one of the country's highest profile evangelical Christians, has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from his position at Liberty University.

The move comes days after he was forced to apologise for a photograph he posted to social media showing him with his trousers unzipped, his shirt pulled up over his stomach and his arm round a woman in a similar pose.

Mr Falwell deleted the social media post following uproar over the photo, including from Republicans.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, Liberty University – a private college in Lynchburg, Virginia – said that the board had asked him to take an indefinite leave from his posts as president and chancellor, "to which he has agreed, effective immediately".

The statement made no reference to the photograph.

Mr Falwell has held positions at the university, which was founded by his father, the Rev Jerry Falwell, since 2007.

He has been an outspoken supporter of Mr Trump, who maintains enthusiastic support from evangelical Christians.

Earlier this week Mr Falwell addressed the controversial photograph in an interview with the radio station WLNI, saying the woman standing next to him was his wife's assistant and that it was taken during a costume party.

He explained the pose they were both in by saying she was pregnant and could not fix her shorts, and that the picture was just "good fun".

"I've apologised to everybody, and I've promised my kids ... I'm going to try to be a good boy from here on out," he said in the interview.

Mark Walker, a Republican congressman for North Carolina and a pastor who has previously taught at Liberty University, called the picture "appalling" and called on him to resign.

Conservative television personality Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Republican senator and presidential candidate John McCain, tweeted: "How is this Jerry Falwell Jr. photo even real?

"Also if you're running the largest Christian university in America maybe don't put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht – with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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