Earlier today, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his campaign for president at Liberty University (LU), the ultraconservative school established by Jerry Falwell. His decision to choose Liberty is rather telling, considering that LU is a radically right-wing university with a law school staffed by some of the most viciously anti-gay Religious Right activists operating today.
Of course, given that LU itself was founded by Falwell, who blamed gay people for 9/11, this should not come as much of a surprise.
From the founding of Liberty’s law school in 2004 until last year, Mat Staver served as dean while also serving as chairman of Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group, which has deep ties to the university. Staver is among the leading anti-gay Religious Right activists today and has a long anti-gay record, having blamed the 2008 financial crisis on banks that “actively promoted the homosexual agenda” and has said that lawmakers who support marriage equality “are not competent for public office.” He has repeatedly called for a “revolution” to protest gay equality and warned that gay rights laws will increase violent crime, kill people, lead to “forced homosexuality,” and eventually destroy America and western civilization.
Staver continues to call for a revolution to fight gay marriage and is currently leading an effort to get anti-gay Christians to ignore any Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans, saying that refusing to obey such a ruling is like refusing to turn a Jew over to the Nazis:
When Staver announced his resignation from Liberty’s law school last year, LU President Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced that Rena Lindevaldsen would take over as interim dean. Lindevaldsen previously served as senior litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel, where she was the lead attorney in a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an “ex-gay” woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner. Lindevaldsen even wrote a book about the saga while she and Liberty Counsel continue to insist that they have no knowledge of Miller’s whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working at the Liberty University Law School.
Furthermore, Staver and Lindevaldsen even reportedly taught a class at Liberty based on the Miller case in which students were instructed that the “right” thing for a Christian lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in “civil disobedience” to uphold God’s law. In 2012, the school was hit with a lawsuit over its alleged involvement in Miller’s kidnapping.
When Lindevaldsen spoke at a right-wing conference earlier this month, she told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds that “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:
Matt Barber is another Liberty University/Liberty Counsel crossover. He formerly served as vice president of Liberty Counsel Action and still co-hosts Liberty Counsel’s daily radio program with Staver, while also holding positions as associate dean and adjunct professor at Liberty.
Baber happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it “love.'”
He has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act was necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens end their own lives because they “know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral,” proclaimed gay adoption to be “tragic,” “unconscionable,” and “reprehensible,” and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are “running interference for the pedophile movement.”
Barber has called marriage equality the “bidding of the Devil” and warned that by legalizing same-sex marriage, America is ” tempting the wrath of God.” He claims that HIV/AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality. He has described homosexuality as a “cancer” that prompted Noah’s flood and will ultimately lead to Communism. Barber has said that Satan is behind gay rights efforts, asserting that demonic “spiritual pressure” was driving the campaign to end the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members.
He has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he’d like to see a ban on “gay propaganda” in the U.S., as well as defending Uganda’s harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.
Several other anti-gay activists also hold teaching positions at Liberty University, including Shawn Akers, who has said that measures to prevent the bullying of LGBT youth are “a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and Communist countries” and accused gay rights advocates of bullying Christians and persecuting them in the same way as Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews.
Judith Reisman is also a professor at Liberty – that is, when she is not busy fighting to criminalize pornography or claiming that schools are brainwashing children into becoming gay and that gay rights advocates are emulating the Nazis. Reisman has claimed that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Gay-Straight Alliances are modeled after the Hitler Youth and promote pedophilia.
Ken Blackwell, who earlier this month blamed gay activists for racist chants and blamed shooting sprees on gay marriage, likewise holds a teaching position at the university. Blackwell has previously compared gay people with arsonists and kleptomaniacs and same-sex couples with farm animals.
Any way you cut it, it is clear that Liberty University is home of a slew of anti-gay bigots. The fact that Ted Cruz chose this as the venue at which to announce his presidential campaign speaks volumes.