Jerry Lamon Falwell Jr. (; born June 17, 1962) is an American lawyer and university administrator. He serves as the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, appointed in 2007 upon his father's death.
Jerry Falwell Jr. was born on June 17, 1962, the eldest son of Jerry Sr. and Macel Falwell (née Pate). He attended private schools in the Lynchburg area, attending Lynchburg Christian Academy, where he graduated in 1980, and attended Liberty University, where he obtained a B.A. in religious studies in 1984. Falwell then attended the University of Virginia School of Law, where he obtained a J.D. in 1987.
From 1987 until 2007, Falwell served in private practice in Virginia and as the lawyer for Liberty University and its related organizations. He joined the Board of Trustees of the university in 2000. In 2007, upon the death of his father, he assumed the presidency of Liberty University and has served in that position since.
Falwell stated during one of the University's Convocations that he thought that, if, speaking of the 2015 San Bernardino attack, "some of those people had got what I have in my back pocket right now," that it would not have happened. He said that he was astounded that President Barack Obama's answer to the problem was more gun control. He "always thought that, if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them."
His comments were criticized by both Christians and Muslims. According to one report, Falwell was only heard saying "then we could end those Muslims before they walked in", with the "and killed them" part drowned out by applause. Falwell later said he was referring to Muslims committing terrorist attacks and not Muslims in general.
On January 26, 2016, Falwell announced his endorsement of Donald Trump for the Republican Nomination in the 2016 Presidential Election; causing some Liberty University alumni and other Christians to express concern that Falwell had "sold his soul." On July 21, 2016 at the RNC convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Falwell Jr. called Trump "America's blue collar billionaire" and "one of the greatest visionaries of our time" in his endorsement of the candidate he felt most likely to defend the "right to bear arms," "stop Iran...from becoming a nuclear power," and "appoint conservative pro-life justices to the Supreme Court."
In an August 19, 2016 editorial in The Washington Post, Falwell compared Trump to Winston Churchill: "We need a leader with qualities that resemble those of Winston Churchill, and I believe that leader is Donald Trump." A group called the Red Letter Christians, criticized Falwell for the pivotal role he played in "forging the alliance between white evangelicals and Donald J. Trump, who won 81 percent of their vote." Trump, who is a personal friend of Mr. Falwell’s, gave the commencement address in 2017 at Liberty University, Lynchburg which is "at the heart of pro-Trump evangelical Christianity".
In August, following a white supremacist terror attack in Charlottesville, Falwell defended President Trump, saying that the President doesn't have "a racist bone in his body," adding that the president is being attacked by "thin-skinned Americans". ... "You know, he's a little abrasive sometimes in the way he says things, and we have some thin-skinned Americans sometimes who ignore the substance of what he's saying because they're put off by his demeanor," Falwell said. "And I think we need to grow up as a people and stop being so easily offended."
Asked in a January 2019 interview, "is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?", Falwell answered, "no."
In June 2016, Falwell expressed support for Israel when Liberty University moved to invest $5 million of its endowment in Israel. Falwell stated, "Liberty is glad to be part of supporting the only democracy that's a close ally of the United States (in an area) that is in such turmoil right now."
In April 2017, Falwell referred to Trump as the "dream president" for evangelicals, and cited "uniting with Israel" and appointing "people of faith" in his administration as the reason why evangelicals support Trump.
Possible governmental position
In January 2017, Falwell was appointed by President Trump to chair a task force of fifteen college presidents on reforms for the United States Department of Education. In June 2017, Falwell confirmed to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Falwell was offered the position of United States Secretary of Education but turned down the offer citing personal reasons and because he didn't want to leave Liberty University for more than two years.
Falwell is married to Becki Tilley. They have three children and live on a farm in Bedford County, Virginia.