Liberty University’s board of trustees allegedly asked fellow board member Mark DeMoss to resign because his public disagreement with the school’s president. He submitted a letter of resignation a few days later.
DeMoss rocked the university boat when he publicly criticized president Jerry Falwell Jr. for endorsing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. DeMoss, now a PR executive, is no stranger to Liberty: From 1984 until 1991, he was Jerry Falwell Sr.’s chief of staff, and he served on the board for 25 years. The events surrounding DeMoss’s departure from Liberty are fuzzy, with a lot of he-said-she-said going on between him and the university. Each party maintains a different sequence of events, particularly about which side initiated DeMoss’s resignation. Blogger Warren Throckmorton interacted with both. After a fairly generic statement from the university, DeMoss told Throckmorton:
On March 1st a Washington Post article appeared in which I expressed my disagreement with Jerry Falwell Jr’s formal endorsement of Donald Trump. Jerry and a number of fellow Liberty University trustees expressed to me and to the other trustees their disapproval of my speaking publicly about the subject.
At our April 21 executive committee meeting the committee voted to ask me to resign from the committee I had chaired for many years. I agreed, and did so in remarks to the full board the following morning.
Subsequently, on Monday, April 25, I sent a letter to Jerry and the chairman of the board and the new chairman of the executive committee, tendering my resignation from the board I had served for 25 years.
Then, at the blogger’s request for comment, the university responded to DeMoss’s account:
Liberty University does not typically give details of the occurrences at its Board of Trustee meetings but since Mark DeMoss has contradicted the University’s response and offered a different version, here is a clarification:
While members of the Executive Committee individually asked Mark DeMoss to resign from the Executive Committee, no vote was ever taken by the Executive Committee to ask Mark DeMoss to resign. On Thursday, April 21, he was encouraged by members of the Executive Committee to remain on the Board and apologize to the Board. At the Board of Trustees meeting the following day, Mark DeMoss offered an apology to the Board and tendered his resignation from the Executive Committee. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the apology of Mark DeMoss in the Christian spirit of love and grace. Mark DeMoss sent an email with his resignation on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, four days after the Board of Trustees meeting. He was not removed from the Board of Trustees nor did the Board of Trustees ask for his resignation.
And there’s more: According to Throckmorton, DeMoss still rejects several aspects of Liberty’s latest statement. Specifically, he is adamant that he was not encouraged to stay and that he did not “tender” his resignation; he was “informed” about it.
It’s a strange saga that raises all kinds of questions about the Liberty University’s relationship to Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Trump. At the very least, this highlights the messiness of the school’s affiliation. More broadly, this whole episode points to the growing rift among Christians concerning the controversial candidate. Is it a sign of more divisions to come?
Aaron Cline Hanbury is a contributing editor for RELEVANT. You can follow him on Twitter at @achanbury