By Elizabeth Gonzalez
This article has been long in the making. I am rather remiss still to write this, but I am so angered as a Christian that I must. I once admired Jerry Falwell, and I will not speak ill of him, as I do not believe also that speaking ill of the dead is fair if they cannot defend themselves.
Nonetheless, Thomas Road Church, which is the church begun by Falwell in 1956, though moved from its original spot to be closer to Liberty University is far from what I believe a true church of the Bible should be about.
I understand that Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, TX, who founded Cornerstone Church still to date, comes here once a year to speak. To those who do not know Hagee he is the Pastor that openly endorsed John McCain in the 2008 Presidential Election and McCain disassociated himself from him due to Hagee’s staunch religious beliefs in morality, that homosexuality is an abomination to God - as the Bible states, and his fierce support of Israel. He holds a yearly rally in Washington, D.C. in support of Israel during July and thousands attend in support.
I am a partner with Hagee’s Ministries and I can honestly say that in the 15 years I have followed the man he has always been the same. I am not so sure, I could say that about the late Falwell, but then that is not the point of this article.
First, the Falwell’s own, and when I say own, I mean own literally all of Lynchburg. Their influence is tremendously felt here. So is the greed. During this past summer 2012, the derecho that hit Virginia the hardest of all states, Lynchburg decided to use word of mouth and the television (keep in mind 99% of Lynchburg had no electricity except for the stores that are on a secured grid) to let people know where to go for cooling centers, free meals, and shelters for those that needed them.
Second, it turns out that a group of people from a church in Michigan had come down here to feed the people and set up at Sandusky Middle School. The meals were served three times a day, they were home cooked in the kitchen at the school and they were free. Liberty University “allowed” the Red Cross to come up on the mountain and give out bottled water, Gatorade, and bags of ice. There were also people from the Tide Company doing laundry for people. In addition, at both locations; showers were set up for people to use. In the interim Thomas Road Church too was serving buffet style meals three times a day and advertised on their church website in the aftermath of the derecho that they had fed thousands. What the church selectively omitted was that the meals they had served were $3.00 for each person and child for breakfast, again for lunch, and again dinner, but it was eat all you can. That equates to $9.00 per adult and per child per day for a week. Quite a raking in of money I might add. It was never mention where that money went. I have guessed, as I will let you guess! Therefore, in a disaster situation when there were many impoverished people the church of Jerry Falwell was charging to feed the people! Absolutely disgusting and despicable. It begs the questions, what would Jesus do? Better still, what does Jesus say in the Bible? Making money off the backs of people during a disaster is low, beneath low. I saw it and could not believe my eyes! Despicable!
Third, now everyone is aware that Lynchburg is a college community with at least three to four schools here serving the undergrads. Most students going to Liberty University are well off so the local Wal-Mart is expensive in comparison to other Wal-Mart stores – that goes across the board all the way down to the grocery store. Rich mommy and daddy are dishing the dollars out to the rich kids who spend it like kids in a candy store and the cash just keeps on rolling in.
There is a chain of frozen yogurt shops out here amongst many other businesses owned by the Falwell family and it is very lucrative. Everyone has the right to earn money, but here they love to earn theirs off the backs of the poor or off those that go hungry, they will seek their last penny. Read the Book of James and find the verse where James states that those in need are patted on their backs and told go on your way my brother and be blessed. James goes on to say woe unto them. (Paraphrased) The Bible is clear that if it is within your power to help someone and you do not, woe unto you! (Paraphrased)
Yes, you can read about all the accomplishments of Jerry Falwell. Was he sincere, only God knows his heart, but the people that live here do not like him or the Falwells. Many tell you that this place has been bought and owned by them for years and that it is ugly, that the Falwell’s are greedy and do not really care about the people.
I do not know the Falwells’to make such statements, nor have I lived here long enough to know if that is really true, but to be honest with all of you, from what I have seen – the Faldwell’s do own Lynchburg – coined “Libertyburg” here for the money the University racks in and their smothering presence in this town.
In all fairness, however, I did some research and did find out that if high school students attend their high school all four years that they may attend Liberty University free. Considering all the money they make I would say they could afford that and then write it off as a tax break very easily since this is all supposedly nonprofit – yet the Falwell’s have profited vastly while the flock is struggling just to make it from week to week. Rather ironic in my humble opinion.
Last, at the end of the day, I have yet to find a good Christian Church home for my family and myself. I was so disappointed with Thomas Road Church I cannot tell you – but it was sheer disappointment. Where I once had hope, instead I found a white sepulchre with dead men’s bones in it! This town needs a Holy Ghost slap in the face and a Holy Ghost revival because sadly Lynchburg is spiritually dead in the land of Falwell.
Liberty University. (N.D.). Founder. Dr. Jerry Falwell. Retrieved from http://www.liberty.edu/aboutliberty/index.cfm?PID=6921
Sandusky Middle School. (2012). Home. Retrieved from http://www.lcsedu.net/schools/sms/
Thomas Road Baptist Church. (N.D.). Teaching Pastors. Jonathan Falwell. Retrieved from http://trbc.org/visitors/teaching-pastors
(NOTE FROM DEBBIE: The opinions expressed by contributors here at Right Truth are not necessarily my opinion, nor the opinion of other contributors. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.)