The "Christian" Mafia

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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:34 pm

The Alt Right and Russian Influence


The Alt-Right is a media created construct to convince people that White Nationalists and Republicans are different entities. This used to be correct, until the right was infiltrated by former Nazis in the Nixon years.

This is how the “New Right” was born. The people listed as part of the “New Right” went to the 1976 Convention of the segregationist American Independence Party and tried to secure the presidential nomination of fundraising magnate Richard Viguerie. The IAP was a party filled with KKK and Neo-Nazi members.

Richard Nixon united the far right with fascist elements in Eastern Europe, as pointed out in Russ Bellant’s brilliant 1991 book “Old Nazis, The New Right, and The Republican Party.” Nixon would go on to befriend Dimitri Simes from the Center for the National Interest and become a Russia apologist after the U.S.S.R fell.


The American religious right viewed the downfall of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to proselytize and create an alliance with the Russians. Phillip Yancy, in this story for Christianity Today and later the book he wrote based on this story, it is shown that the KGB welcomed this with open arms. I believe that, at some point, they came to realize that religion was a better way to control people and choose to take advantage of the religious right across the world.

With the financial backing of the notorious right-wing families Coors, Scaife, and Hunt, Paul Weyrich was able to create the Heritage Foundation in 1973. He would follow it up with A.L.E.C, The Moral Majority, the Free Congress Foundation and the Secretive Council for National Policy. Weyrich is also known for his belief that not everybody should be able to vote.


“Another one of Weyrich’s close associates at the Free Congress Foundation, Hungarian-American Laszlo Pasztor, is a convicted Nazi sympathizer who was active in the 1940s in the Hungarian Arrow Cross when it was collaborating with the Nazis (source).

Board member Charles Moser is an editorial advisor to Ukrainian Quarterly which once ran an article praising the Nazi Waffen SS and Ukranian collaboration against the Bolsheviks (source) while Weyrich has ties to neo-fascist and racist groups including the Nazi Northern League and the World Anti-Communist League via British eugenicist Roger Pearson.”

Roger Pearson was on the editorial board for the Heritage Foundation before he went on to work for the Pioneer Fund, a fund dedicated to funding eugenics studies. The Pioneer Fund was founded in 1937 and modeled after the Nazi’s breeding program.

Some of the directors of the Pioneer Fund were Tom Ellis — a former president of the Council for National Policy — and two other high-level Republican operatives — Senator Jesse Helms and Carter Wrenn. Both were members of the CNP, as well as being part of the same Eugenics society as far-right financier Nelson Bunker Hunt. Helms was also a member of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, a racist network out of Scotland tied to Joseph Coors.

Once considered the World’s richest man, he was a member of a Eugenics society. Hunt is rumored to have talked about starting death squads in order to assassinate his political opponents.

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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Sat May 05, 2018 5:10 am


By Cole Parke, on May 4, 2018


Though it’s often portrayed as an isolated element of the Christian Right’s standard fare anti-LGBTQ agenda, the #FreeSpeechBus is actually part of a much larger, multi-faceted movement against what the Right has dubbed “gender ideology.” As Gillian Kane recently outlined in The Public Eye, “gender ideology is a right-wing invention that intentionally misrepresents feminist, queer, and gender theory in order to justify discrimination against women and LGBTQ people.” The term was fabricated by the Vatican in the mid-1990s in an effort to paint gender as a newly invented concept that is dangerous and destabilizing to children, families, and society at large, as well as antithetical to science and reason.

In February 2018, HazteOir and CitizenGO hosted the first International Conference on Gender, Sex and Education, featuring a slate of anti-LGBTQ “experts,” including several representatives from American right-wing groups. Glenn Stanton from Focus on the Family argued that “gender theory” is a lie and the idea of a gender spectrum is false. Rubén Navarro, head of the Geneva office of Alliance Defending Freedom, warned of the encroachment of “gender ideology” into international laws and policies. Miriam Ben-Shalom, an American anti-trans lesbian activist linked transgender activists to pedophilia. Ultimately, the event aimed to advance the idea that “gender ideology” is a conspiracy — the latest plot designed by radical homosexual activists to destroy families, contradict biology, erase Biblical gender roles, and persecute Christians.

The irony is that both sides argue that gender is a socially constructed concept. For progressive feminists, LGBTQ activists, and gender theorists, constructs of gender that strictly prescribe roles for men and women are perceived to have been wrongly imposed on individuals who may possess myriad identities and expressions of gender, apart from one’s sex or sexual characteristics. Sources of these impositions include various patriarchal institutions that are understood to have disrupted naturally occurring gender variance and equanimity through systems of violence and domination.

For the Right, “gender theory” is perceived as a contemporary concept aimed at erasing unique and definitive feminine and masculine characteristics that are exclusively tied to one’s biological sex (and limited to male and female). This framework fails to take into account the existence of intersex people, and denies the gender variance that is most often observed in transgender and genderqueer people, but also manifests in a multitude of diverse expressions of gender among cisgender people as well. Ignoring all this, the Right suggests that the acknowledgement of these realities is an LGBTQ conspiracy designed to destroy families and sexualize children. They call it “gender ideology,” and they’re effectively using it to instigate a sort of moral panic that ultimately distracts societies from real structural issues, such as poverty, disease, government corruption, and growing inequalities. ... to-africa/
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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Mon May 14, 2018 2:04 pm

How Transphobic Anti-LGBTQ Groups Hijacked a Small Town's Fight for Equality



When I met Jocelyn, a Parkersburg, West Virginia woman in her early 20s, she was coming off her fourth job interview at the third fast food restaurant in two weeks. She’d made it to the second round with the manager, who’d just told her he wanted to know “how it looked on paper.” On paper, she looked great; her resume listed two previous management positions at fast food franchises before the age of 22. But he was referring to the other paper: the birth certificate.

Eight months into Jocelyn’s gender transition, this was her norm. Sometimes potential employers asked for a letter from her therapist affirming that gender dysphoria is a legitimate medical issue, and that she has been diagnosed with it—but by the time potential employers reached that question, she knew it was pointless. As far as Parkersburg’s anti-LGBTQ residents are concerned, Jocelyn is a “biological male.” She says that, in the end, the manager told her that her presence would scare away their mostly older clientele.

I asked Jocelyn why anyone would require a birth certificate for work in fast food. She laughed quietly and said, “I don’t know.” Jocelyn’s support system is small; her adoptive parents disowned her and, lately, even her friends began to distance themselves from her because of what everybody seemed to refer to as “it”—a way of getting around the phrase “gender transition.” In our time together, she didn’t speak much. She’s hard to reach by cell because she often needs to borrow one from a friend.

When the manager referred to an “older clientele,” he was likely referring to the many Parkersburgians who believe that Jocelyn’s gender transition is a trick to spy on women in bathrooms. Last August, the validity of trans identity was at the center of a debate over a proposed non-discrimination ordinance (NDO), which would have expanded the West Virginia Civil Rights Act on a local level by adding ethnicity, sexuality, sex, genetic information, veteran status, and disability status as categories protected from housing and employment discrimination and access to public facilities.

Far-right religious groups in Parkersburg opposed the NDO, attacking it with transphobic language and characterizing it, in essence, as a “bathroom bill.” A small-scale televised news saga began. State offshoots of national pro- and anti-LGBTQ rights groups appeared. Pastors blasted the LGBTQ “lifestyle” as Satanic and called upon their congregants to petition; hundreds of members of the anti-LGBTQ, Christian-based group Liberty for Parkersburg, or “Liberty,” packed city council meetings with hymn circles and fire-and-brimstone testimony. According to an affidavit filed with the State of West Virginia, one man testified that a pastor approached his home and said that he was working “with city council” to defeat an ordinance that would allow men to watch his daughters shower in their school locker room. A woman testified that a man had repeatedly attempted to try on a dress at the retail shop where she worked; another balked at the comparison between LGBTQ rights and the 1960s civil rights movement. Parkersburg City Council rejected the non-discrimination ordinance that month by an easy 6-to-3 vote; people on both sides of the issue have chalked it up as a victory for Liberty.

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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:49 pm

Fascistic theocrats: James Scaminaci comments on Insurgent Supremacists

By Matthew N Lyons | Tuesday, August 21, 2018 |

James Scaminaci III is an independent researcher who has done important work tracing the beliefs and activities of U.S. far rightists for several decades. In Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire I drew particularly on his research regarding the interchange in the early 1990s between Christian Reconstructionists and white nationalists, and the often-ignored role of Christian Reconstructionists in inspiring and shaping the early Patriot movement.

In the letter below, Scaminaci responds to some of the analysis in Insurgent Supremacists, mainly regarding the relationship between Christian Reconstructionism and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. Here are some passages from Insurgent Supremacists that outline some of their major features

[Christian] Reconstructionist ideology is an offshoot of Presbyterianism (itself a branch of Calvinism) that was founded by Rev. R.J. Rushdoony in the 1960s....

...Reconstructionists advocate a totalitarian theocracy based on their interpretation of Old Testament law. In their ideal society, only men from approved Christian churches could vote or hold office, slavery would once again be legal, and death (preferably by stoning) would be applicable punishment for homosexuality, adultery (by women), striking a parent, heresy, blasphemy, and many other offenses. Women would be permanently “in submission” to men and expected to bear as many children as possible. Workers would have a duty to obey their employers, and labor unions would be forbidden.

Unlike most theocracies, the Reconstructionist model does not involve a highly centralized state, but rather puts most of the coercive authority either with local government or with nongovernmental institutions, especially the family and the church

Christian Reconstructionism has always been a small movement, but has had disproportionate influence on the Christian right as a whole. Reconstructionists have been particularly influential in the anti-abortion rights movement, in Christian homeschooling, and in promoting the concept of “biblical patriarchy.”

C. Peter Wagner (1930-2016), founder of
the New Apostolic Reformation movement

New Apostolic Reformation, which is was formally launched by C. Peter Wagner in 1996, is a much larger Christian right current based among Pentecostals and Charismatics, who unlike Reconstructionists believe in miracles and divinely inspired prophecy as active components of Christian worship today. NAR is more ethnically diverse than the lily-white Reconstructionist movement, and allows women more latitude to play public and leadership roles. However,
like Reconstructionism, NAR theology declares that Christians are called to “take dominion” over all areas of society in preparation for Christ’s return. NAR leaders phrase this in terms of taking control of “Seven Mountains,” i.e., seven key societal institutions: government, media, family, business/finance, education, church/religion, and arts/entertainment.

[In contrast to Reconstructionism,] NAR is a centralizing ideology, whose leaders want to gain control of big government and make it bigger.... NAR combines a theocratic vision with an organizational structure that is far more centralized and authoritarian than most on the Christian right (38).
* * *
NAR leaders teach that their adherents will develop vast supernatural powers, such as defying gravity or healing every person inside a hospital just by laying hands on the building. Eventually, these people will become “manifest sons of God,” who essentially have God-like powers over life and death. In the End Times, too, some one or two billion people will convert to Christianity, and God will transfer control of all wealth to the NAR apostles (39).

I also argue in Insurgent Supremacists that Reconstructionists have pursued consistently oppositional politics, while NAR has tended to straddle the line between far right (rejecting the legitimacy of the established US political system) and system-loyal right. --ML

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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:55 pm

The strange alliance between Russian Orthodox monarchists, American Christian Evangelicals and European fascists


A former French militia leader who prepared youth for an impending religious war, the son of an Italian fascist, a Bilderberg-going cardinal, an aspiring king and the Italian deputy prime minister … welcome to the strange universe of the World Congress of Families.

The World Congress of Families (WCF) held its twelfth annual gathering in the capital of the small Eastern European country of Moldova from September 14-16, 2018.

A platform for virulent anti-LGBT rhetoric, the WCF unites high-profile conservative politicians and activists hostile to LGBT rights every year. As this year exemplifies, its speakers’ list is slipping ever more to the far-right.

The coalition of far-right allies at the gathering exemplifies how comfortable American Christian right evangelicals are mingling with extreme-right nationalist forces in Europe — and how the WCF is a key networking platform for this backward-looking group, as Hatewatch covered earlier this year.

WCF’s Russian representative, Alexey Komov, who has long networked with various extreme-right factions in Europe like the Italian far-right League (Lega, formerly known as Lega Nord, or Northern League), is key to the WCF’s realignment alongside the European far-right. Komov also serves as an external relations member for the Russian Orthodox Church and has seemingly helped the WCF morph into a soft-power platform for the Russian Orthodox oligarchs he is close to.

The WCF has grown central to a growing traditionalist alliance on the European continent. It helps foment local opposition to the European Union by raising the specter of LGBT rights in host countries, and instead offers Russia as a more traditionalist (read anti-LGBT) partner. This year’s meeting, for instance, was strategically held in Moldova, whose political establishment is currently split between pro-Russian and pro-European Union factions, which has led to a number of democratic setbacks.

Meanwhile, the president of the WCF, Brian Brown, happily cheers on WCF’s collaboration with the anti-LGBT European far-right.

Aspiring kings
By far the strangest appearance at the opening was Prince Louis de Bourbon, a descendant of the French royal family and a great-grandson of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Bourbon waxed poetic about the monarchy and emphasized its familial nature, despite the fact that philandering monarchs of old are hardly a model for Christian Right fathers and husbands.

He described the “bond which united the French people to each other” as “first and foremost a family tie from the humblest to the king.” France’s prominence during the monarchy, which he called a “miracle,” was due to the fact that it was ruled by “a family, a royal family” and to the “original transmission of power from male to male.” (Democratic France, as it happens, has never had a female president.) Bourbon was treated with deference by other participants. He was referred to as “your Royal Highness” by the chairman of the Georgian WCF, Levan Vasadze.

One of the alleged funders of this year’s WCF, a Russian Orthodox oligarch who reportedly funded the Crimean invasion and Komov’s business partner, Konstantin Malofeev, is a dedicated monarchist. He has even started a school in Moscow to help prepare the Russian youth for a monarchy. As he told The Guardian: “For me it’s very important to restore the traditions that were broken off in 1917.”

In 2014, a meeting to unify the European far-right was organized by Malofeev alongside ultranationalist Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin. It also included an aspiring regent, Prince Sixtus Henry of Bourbon-Parma, the leader of the Catholic-monarchist far-right Carlist movement.

Guillaume de Thieulloy, the editor of the French far-right Catholic website Le Salon Beige, spoke at the event. Also a monarchist, Thieulloy is virulently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant as well. In 2012, he called for a referendum on immigration, declaring (the below is translated from the French):

It’s not that there is a genetic basis to delinquency, but millions of immigrants without jobs who are “programmed” to hate France, despite the fact that it welcomed them with a generosity unequaled elsewhere in the world, are obviously an important resource for mafias, the bearded ones [i.e. radical Muslims], and all those who spit on France.

Brian Brown, the head of WCF, posted a picture of himself and Thieulloy palling around on his Instagram. In the caption, he called de Thieulloy his “French brother.”

Friendship with fascists continues
The anti-LGBT religious far right in Europe is never far from Christian neo-fascists, who share its opposition to LGBT rights and its affection for families composed exclusively of heterosexual married couples and their children. The spokesman of the anti-abortion group Pro Vita, Alessandro Fiore, who sat on a panel on “human life,” is no less than the son of Roberto Fiore, the self-identified fascist who heads the neo-fascist and violent Italian far-right party Forza Nuova. As a Corriere della Serra investigation revealed, Pro Vita has a remarkable number of ties to Roberto Fiore’s neo-fascist party. The two groups even share a mailing address.

As covered by Hatewatch, Roberto Fiore exchanged emails with WCF Russian representative Komov in November 2014, asking Komov for help to find lawyers for the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn and introducing him to Golden Dawn’s ally in Cyprus, far-right party ELAM. Komov forwarded his request along and referred to him as “our pro-Russian Italian friend.” His son’s speech at the WCF is therefore no surprise.

Another odd speaker at the WCF was Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the Bow Group, Britain’s oldest conservative think tank. Under his leadership, the Bow Group has slipped closer to the far right by endorsing the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party. More blatantly, it offered discounts for one of its events to the white nationalist and racist Traditional Britain Group, whose head directs the U.K. chapter of the influential white nationalist publishing house Arktos, sparking outrage in the U.K.

Radical Christian militias
Even more underground and violent Christian movements don’t scare the WCF leadership. Fabrice Sorlin, who formerly served as the WCF French representative and who is close to the WCF’s Russian faction, spoke on a panel on “the international networks undermining family and faith.”

Sorlin used to head a group of young Catholic extremists preparing for violence against Muslim and black citizens, Dies Irae (Day of rage). The group trained its members in combat for an impending religious war.

In a 2010 undercover “Les Infiltrés” documentary, “A l'extrême droite du Père” (“At the Extreme Right of the Father”), a member was caught on tape declaring that they were in a “crusade” opposing Muslims and were preparing to “bleed Muslims with our knife.” Another member cited The Turner Diaries, which the FBI has called the “bible of the racist right,” as one of the group’s main inspirations. The Turner Diaries describes racist and antisemitic militia groups taking over the country to establish a white supremacist state, subjecting Jews and black people to all sorts of violence in the process. It was found in Timothy McVeigh’s car after the Oklahoma City bombing, and his attack closely resembled one outlined in the novel.

Despite the outcry that followed the release of the documentary, Sorlin went on to a comfortable career as the French representative of the WCF a few years after its release, starting there in January 2013, according to his LinkedIn account. He even organized the WCF’s first regional conference in France in April 2017, conspicuously focused on representing Eastern European countries as having to choose between traditionalist Russia and a corrupt European Union in the hands of a “gay lobby.”

Though he is no longer ostensibly a staff member, Sorlin is still speaking at the WCF. His continued presence reveals the group’s comfort with violent far-right figures. Sorlin’s staunch dedication to spreading Russian influence to the French far-right through his former pro-Russian think tank Alliance France Europe Russie (AAFER) likely also has something to do with his WCF ties. Sorlin now lives in Russia.

The Italian League
It’s a WCF tradition that a high-ranking political official from the host country address the event — Moldovan president Igor Dodon addressed the Congress last Friday. But this year, even Matteo Salvini, the far-right deputy prime minister of Italy, sent an email to read to Congress participants. The letter, read out loud by a beaming Brian Brown, stated, “In such a time of destructive and irrational aggression towards the founding values of our cultures, your effort to defend the natural family is a vital element for the survival of the humankind.”

Komov has long been close to the far-right League party to which Salvini belongs, and the ties between the WCF and the League are likely to get closer still: At the end of the Congress, Italy was announced as the destination for next year’s gathering.

The Vatican, too, had a representative at the anti-LGBT event. When the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, addressed the crowd, he assured WCF attendees of the “spiritual closeness” of Pope Francis with the WCF. His speech focused on the importance of the family in the face of growing individualism.

Though Parolin is best known for being the first high-ranking Vatican member to attend the Bilderberg conference, which unites high-ranking figures in the government, private sector and the media for secretive meetings, his diplomatic efforts have also included creating closer ties with the Russian Orthodox church.

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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:12 pm

Religious Right’s Romanian Anti-LGBTQ Referendum Fails

By Peter Montgomery | October 9, 2018 4:24 pm

Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel's Harry Mihet on tour promoting marriage ban in Romanian constitution,
image from Liberty Counsel photo

A referendum to place a restrictive definition of marriage into the Romanian Constitution failed over the weekend, because just over 20 percent of voters went to the polls—well short of the 30 percent threshold needed for a valid referendum. The low turnout was a victory for pro-equality activists who had urged a boycott of the vote and a defeat for Romanian political and religious leaders who promoted it. It’s also a defeat for the U.S. Religious Right groups that have been advocating for the constitutional referendum for years.

The BBC reported that the leader of the only major political party that opposed the referendum said the current government should resign for “wasting” $46 million in public funds on a “fantasy.”

As we have noted, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the European affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Liberty Counsel were all involved in promoting the referendum. Last year, Liberty Counsel took marriage-refusing Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis on a speaking tour of Romania to boost the efforts.

Also providing support for the anti-equality forces was the World Congress of Families, the international network led by American anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown. The WCF convened in September in neighboring Moldova, which shares language and history with Romania. WCF has partnered with religious and political conservatives in Russian and throughout Eastern Europe to attack the European Union’s secularism and progressive social policies, and to portray Putin’s Russia as a leader of “traditional” societies and Christian civilization.

And Capitol Ministries, the group whose leader Ralph Drollinger runs fundamentalist Bible studies for members of Congress and members of Trump’s cabinet, says it established a “discipleship” Bible study this year for parliamentarians in Romania.

In a story published just before this weekend’s vote, the Los Angeles Times quoted Romanian gay rights advocate Florin Buhuceanu, writing in 2016: “With heavy support offered by their American counterparts, the religious right’s ambition in eastern Europe is to encourage, prepare and initiate a de-secularization process, dismantling piece-by-piece the most important elements of liberal citizenship.”

But the vocal support of Orthodox Church officials and many political leaders was not enough to motivate a sufficient number of voters.

Accept Association, a Romanian group affiliated with ILGA-Europe, said in a statement:

“Together, through the #boycott campaign, we showed that we, as citizens, want a Romania based upon democratic values, a country where respect, equality and common sense guides society. Today we have shown that we can not be fooled by a political agenda that urges us to hate and polarise society, we have shown that most of us believe that human rights are not to be voted at a referendum.”

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Romania in 2001, but same-sex unions are not currently recognized in Romanian law. But in late September, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that gay couples should have the same legal rights as male-female couples. In June, the European Court of Justice ruled that the country could not deny residency to the American husband of a Romanian man; they were legally married in Belgium in 2010. ... dum-fails/
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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:01 am

Blackmail likely brought Trump the Christian Right. There's now a connection between a Jerry Falwell Jr. lawsuit involving him staking a Miami pool boy w/millions & Cohen's assuredness that Falwell would endorse Trump no matter what, well ahead of 2016.

Jerry Falwell Jr. And A Young Pool Attendant Launched A Business That Sparked A Bitter Dispute

Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen helped arrange Falwell’s pivotal endorsement of Donald Trump, the first by a major evangelical.

Headshot of Aram Roston
Aram Roston
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on May 31, 2018, at 11:31 a.m. ET

Influential evangelical leader and Donald Trump backer Jerry Falwell Jr. went into business with a young pool attendant he and his wife met while staying at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach, according to a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County.

The suit, which has not been previously reported, was brought by a father and son who claim that after they helped conceive of the business, the pool attendant and Falwell wrongly cut them out of it. The suit says that while Falwell Jr. and his wife were guests at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 2012, they developed a “friendly relationship” with the pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda; flew Granda in a private jet; and eventually backed him in a business venture, setting up a hostel that offers low-cost dorm-style nightly accommodations to visitors. The pool attendant, according to public records databases, was 21 when he met the Falwells.

The building that houses the Alton Hostel.
Aram Roston / BuzzFeed News
The building that houses the Alton Hostel.
A representative for Falwell Jr. and his family emailed BuzzFeed News that Granda was “offered a share” in the Alton Hostel venture because he lived in Miami and would act as a manager. Granda, Falwell’s wife, and Falwell's son are partners in the company that owned the hostel. Falwell Jr. loaned the company the down payment to purchase the $4.65 million property but was not a partner in the venture, said the representative, who asked not to be identified. He added that Granda had flown only once in a private plane the Falwells had rented.

Granda, who is a defendant in the lawsuit alongside the Falwells, declined to comment. His lawyer, Aaron Resnick, emailed and texted to ask that BuzzFeed News stop calling Granda and to emphasize that he would not discuss Falwell or the litigation.


Falwell’s lawyer wrote that the evangelical and his family deny any wrongdoing and the allegations in the lawsuit.

Falwell Jr., the son of fire-and-brimstone preacher and political activist Jerry Falwell Sr., played a pivotal role in the 2016 presidential campaign. Right before the Republican primary season, he became the first prominent evangelical leader to endorse Trump for president. That endorsement led the way for the Christian right to back the thrice-married New York real estate developer, reality show host, and former casino mogul known for talking crassly about women and sex.

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Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen, who is now facing a federal criminal investigation, helped arrange Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Trump in January 2016, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The relationship between Cohen and Falwell Jr. has not been previously reported, but the two have been acquainted since 2012, according to a source with direct knowledge of Falwell’s decision to endorse Trump. The source, a high-ranking official at Liberty University, said that Falwell Jr. occasionally visited Cohen’s office in New York City but that there was no business relationship between the two men.

According to a separate source with knowledge of Trump’s campaign, Cohen was so confident in Falwell Jr.’s support that he and Trump assured others, even before Trump announced his candidacy, that Falwell Jr. would issue an endorsement.

Cohen did not respond to requests for comment and a list of specific questions for this story. His attorney, Stephen Ryan, also didn’t respond.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The Alton Hostel, which does business as Miami Hostel, was once profiled by Politico and has 120 beds in a warren of rooms connected to a building that houses a liquor store. During a visit this May, hostel clerks were unwilling to discuss management.

Guests, who pay just $20 per night, played pool at a table in a courtyard covered by a canopy. Some are tourists; at least one said she’s between seasonal jobs and needs a cheap place to stay.

Inside one of the spartan dorm rooms on the second floor over the liquor store, metal-framed bunk beds line the walls. Guests secure their possessions in steel gray lockers, which look like they belong in a high school, and there is a bathroom with one toilet that the room’s six guests share. The hostel provides linens and towels at the front desk.

“He was looking to purchase a business in order to provide a source of income to Giancarlo Granda.”
This is the venture at the center of the lawsuit against Falwell Jr. The suit — which was filed in 2015, dismissed, then refiled in 2017 — alleges that after Falwell Jr. and his wife met Granda in 2012 at the hotel pool, the evangelical “indicated that he wanted to help Granda establish a new career and build a business.”

Two affidavits attached to the lawsuit quote real estate agents who say that Falwell Jr. said “he was looking to purchase a business in order to provide a source of income to Giancarlo Granda.”

The representative for Falwell Jr. responded that Falwell never met either of those agents.

The suit was brought by a father and son named Jesus Fernandez Sr. and Jesus Fernandez Jr., and names Falwell, his wife and son, Granda, and the hostel company as defendants. The Fernandezes claim in the lawsuit that after Falwell Jr. offered to help Granda in business, they came up with the idea of Alton Hostel and were promised a part of the business.

Earlier this month, in response to a motion, the judge in the case dismissed the claims of the father, Fernandez Sr., and dismissed two fraud counts in the complaint. Neither Fernandez could be reached, and their attorney, Rolando Diaz, said he would not comment.

Falwell Jr.’s representative counters that the evangelical’s commercial real estate partner had been looking for properties around Miami and “found one that he thought was a particularly good deal. Mr. Falwell’s wife and son were interested in acquiring it but wanted a local partner.” Granda was brought in not to help him out but to be that local partner, the representative said.

Public records show that in early February 2013, Falwell Jr.’s son, Jerry Falwell III, who goes by the name Trey, incorporated a company called Alton Hostel. Two weeks later that company spent $4.65 million to buy the property on Alton Road in Miami Beach. It borrowed $3.84 million from a bank in Virginia, in a mortgage signed by Trey.

Falwell’s representative told BuzzFeed News that Falwell Jr. loaned the down payment, which would have been $800,000.

Inside the Alton Hostel, which also goes by the name Miami Hostel.
Aram Roston / BuzzFeed News
Inside the Alton Hostel, which also goes by the name Miami Hostel.

In January 2014, the articles of incorporation of Alton Hostel were amended to add Giancarlo Granda, who was then 22 years old, according to public records databases.

In a construction permit application in 2016, Granda signed as managing partner. Falwell Jr.’s wife, Rebecca, is also listed as a member of the corporation. Falwell Jr. himself, however, is not listed on the paperwork, and the family’s representative said he never had an ownership stake in the hostel.

Joshua Spector, an attorney representing Falwell Jr., his wife, and his son Trey, provided a statement via email: “I will not be making any comments regarding the litigation other than to state that my clients deny the allegations in the Complaint (which contains a multitude of false statements) and deny any claims of wrongdoing.”

Beds in the Alton Hostel.
Aram Roston / BuzzFeed News
Beds in the Alton Hostel.
Despite Falwell Jr.’s influence in evangelical circles, he’s not a pastor but was educated as a lawyer. He became president of Liberty University, after his father, the school’s founder, died in 2007. Falwell Sr. founded Moral Majority, a potent political force in the 1980s. He was so opposed to homosexuality and abortion that he once suggested gay people, feminists, and “abortionists” were to blame for the 9/11 terror attacks.

In the years since his father’s death, Falwell Jr. has transformed Liberty University into a massive institution. The school’s website says it now has assets of $1.8 billion, up from $100 million when he took over. Falwell Jr. is credited with revitalizing Lynchburg, Virginia, where Liberty University is based. “Almost singlehandedly, Jerry Jr. is also the man who paved the way for big-box discounters like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club to move into town,” according to the 2008 book Falwell Inc.: Inside a Religious, Political, Educational, and Business Empire.

Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Donald Trump in January 2016 was a watershed event for Trump’s candidacy. While the evangelical Christian right is now a fervent Trump constituency, it wasn’t that way when Trump first announced his run for president in 2015.

During the Republican presidential primary, the religious right had other options: candidates such as Sen. Ted Cruz, the son of an evangelical preacher; Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher; and Sen. Marco Rubio, who ran a campaign ad declaring that “the purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan.”

“In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”
In January 2016, when Trump’s candidacy was still considered a long shot and he had almost no brand-name evangelical support, Falwell Jr.’s endorsement “marked a turning point for the entire religious right,” said Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth University religion professor who studies the evangelical movement. “Until that moment, this is a movement that had trumpeted its support for family values, and I don’t need to tell you there is no way anyone could claim this was a candidate who supports family values.” Falwell Jr., Balmer said, “led the way. He led the charge.”

Even before his formal endorsement, Falwell Jr. had already spoken in flattering terms about Trump. He told students at Liberty University during a Trump visit in early January 2016, “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

It was Michael Cohen who reached out to Falwell Jr. to urge him to actually endorse Trump during that visit, according to the source familiar with Falwell’s decision. He reached out to Falwell Jr. again after the visit to remind him he had agreed to endorse Trump, the source wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News.

Cohen, who did not have a formal role in the Trump campaign, is facing intense public scrutiny because of a federal criminal investigation into his activities. Much of the recent attention has focused on Cohen’s payment of $130,000 in hush money during the 2016 election to dissuade a porn star from talking about what she says was a sexual relationship with Trump. Other business activities by Cohen have also attracted scrutiny: He reportedly arranged for a payoff to a Playboy model for her silence about an affair involving the finance chair of the Republican National Committee, and he accepted $4.4 million in consulting fees from various corporations, including Novartis, AT&T, and a company connected to a Russian oligarch.

There is no indication that federal investigators are interested in Cohen’s relationship with Falwell Jr.

The source familiar with Falwell’s endorsement decision says that he is “sure” Falwell discussed the Florida lawsuit with Cohen. ... nt-lawsuit

My Weekend at the Falwells’ South Beach Flophouse

Liberty University presents itself as a temple of virtue. But its founding family’s secret Miami hostel is a cesspool of vice.

Jack ShaferAugust 25, 2017
Politico Illustration: Getty; Brandon Ambrosino
“It’s actually that one,” our Uber driver said, pointing with one hand and shifting into reverse with the other. “Right here?” I asked, thinking he must have gotten the address wrong. All I saw was a liquor store.

“That’s it,” he said, crawling to a stop. Miami Hostel, 810 Alton Road, a dilapidated boarding house quietly hidden behind non-descript storefronts.

The trunk opened, and as my partner, Andy, pulled out our luggage, I took a deep breath and surveyed my temporary home away from home. This building in front of me, nestled quietly in a relatively rundown stretch of South Beach, contained three different businesses: an Italian restaurant, a liquor store and a hostel.

As the Uber pulled away, Andy stood, slowly shaking his head. What had I gotten him into? “It’s probably not as terrible as it looks,” I told him. “Let’s go.”

The first thing I noticed was the almost eye-level gray gate with an odd, oval sign declaring that the hostel was—for lack of a better term—a safe space.







The “no religion” sign on the hostel’s front gate.
The “no religion” sign on the hostel’s front gate. | Brandon Ambrosino
“That’s weird, right?” Andy chuckled and opened the door. By then, he and I already knew, thanks to a tipster that the owner of the Miami Hostel was none other than Jerry Falwell III, better known as Trey, who purchased the property with financial help from his father, Jerry Falwell Jr., a man who pretty much embodies everything on that sign: the fusion of religion with politics, aggressive fundraising and a slick, salesman-like approach to public faith. It was Falwell Jr. whose early endorsement of Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries—he hailed him for living “a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment”—was seen as pivotal in helping Trump secure the evangelical vote.

At Liberty University, the Christian private school at which Falwell Jr. is the president and Trey is the vice president for university operations—and from which I graduated in 2011—all manner of vice is prohibited. Students, whether on campus or off, and whether school is in session or not—cannot consume alcohol or tobacco. Co-ed sleeping arrangements are verboten. And, in the words of “The Liberty Way,” the school’s student handbook, “homosexual conduct or the encouragement or advocacy of any form of sexual behavior that would undermine the Christian identity or faith mission of the University” are strictly prohibited. Any one of these transgressions could get you saddled with reprimands, financial repercussions, and even expulsion. And yet, here we were, in perhaps the gayest 6 square miles in the United States—South Beach, Miami—staying in Falwell’s gay-friendly flophouse with an on-site liquor store.

At least that’s the story I thought I was there to report. The more I dug into it, the larger and more byzantine the story became—and the more questions it raised. Though Liberty University officials declined to comment on the record for this story, senior-level sources at the university agreed to answer many of my questions. But rather than settling the matter, the answers they provided begat new and more serious inquiries that go beyond mere charges of hypocrisy over owning a hostel, and point to dubious behavior by Liberty University—actions which, according to several tax-law experts I consulted, could violate IRS rules.


Last fall, I set out to write a story for POLITICO Magazine about the internal disagreements at Liberty University over Falwell Jr.’s enthusiastic public support for Trump. When I interviewed the university chancellor for the piece, Trey tagged along. It seemed clear that he was being groomed to carry the torch after his father hands it off to him—just as Falwell Jr., inherited his post from Falwell Sr.

As I reported the piece, it became apparent that at the core of what initially appeared to be a simple political divide over Trump was instead a more consequential dynamic: frustration over real or perceived double standards.

At Liberty, any faculty member who wishes to speak to a journalist must involve President Falwell’s office either before any contact takes place or within three hours of it ending. The reason for this policy, Liberty’s lead counsel, David Corry, told me, has to do with the school’s closely guarded nonprofit status: To keep its tax exemption, Liberty is prohibited from taking a political position or endorsing a particular candidate.

The only person who can speak on record without having to ask for approval is Falwell himself, who in 2016 endorsed Trump during the Republican primary, just ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Falwell has maintained that his endorsement was as a private citizen and is no reflection of his relationship with the school. But it’s tough to square that with the fact that Falwell was introduced at the 2016 Republican National Convention as the president of Liberty University, or that he touted his experiences running Liberty in explaining his support for Trump. As one Liberty faculty member put it to me, Falwell “would not have the public platform to speak as he does without the university.”

Falwell voices his political opinions freely, while faculty members—all of whom work without the protections of tenure—are unable to do so. Far from protecting Liberty’s reputation as a nonpartisan institution, the lack of public dissenting voices from faculty members means that when Falwell makes a political comment, he is seen to be speaking on behalf of the university, as if the two are one and the same.

A few months after my first POLITICO story published, an anonymous reader emailed me with a tip about the hostel, angry over what they viewed as Falwell’s hypocrisy. “Why does Falwell need to own an LGBT-friendly hostel?” this person wrote.

For the university’s students, staff and faculty, “The Liberty Way” is the law of the land—outlining in granular detail how they are expected to behave, act, speak and dress. (Faculty have their own handbook, but it says in boldface type that they are to conduct themselves in a manner “compatible with the Mission of the University and ‘The Liberty Way.’”) Its premise is that every person associated with the university “should avoid any activity, on or off campus, which would contradict the university’s mission or purpose, compromise the testimony or reputation of the university.”

If caught in violation of the Liberty Way, you face dire consequences, including expulsion for students or termination for faculty and staff. Unless, it seems, your last name is Falwell.

The Falwell-owned hostel encourages behavior that would get Liberty students expelled—the drinking, the smoking, the advertising for strip clubs, the free shuttles to local bars, the possibility of co-ed sleeping arrangements, and so on. And they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything from the adjoining liquor store on Falwell’s property—an amenity the hostel touts in the self-description it provides to travel sites like TripAdvisor: “There is a liquor store connected to the hostel with almost anything you need for partying!”

For most people, this probably seems like no big deal. But there’s a more substantive concern here than simple hypocrisy: For two years, the Falwell-controlled LLC that owned the hostel (as well as the land containing the liquor store and neighboring Italian restaurant) was based on property in Virginia owned by Liberty University.

At left, a gate to Miami Hostel, located behind M.B. Liquors and Macchialina, an Italian restaurant.
At left, a gate to Miami Hostel, located behind M.B. Liquors and Macchialina, an Italian restaurant. | Brandon Ambrosino
The hostel is at 810 Alton Road in Miami Beach, on the same parcel of land housing Miami Beach Liquors and Macchialina, a better-than-average Italian restaurant. Documents with the Miami-Dade County Recorder show that on February 21, 2013, that parcel was purchased by Alton Hostel LLC for $4.65 million. At the time, the LLC—which had formed just two weeks earlier, on February 7, 2013—listed Trey Falwell, then 23, as the sole manager of the company. A high-ranking Liberty University source with extensive knowledge of the deal confirmed to POLITICO Magazine that Jerry Falwell gave his son money for the $4.65 million purchase. The same source maintains that the elder Falwell has no business dealings with the property—which may be true, but a May 21 Facebook post shows that Jerry Falwell and his wife, Becki, dined at Macchialina with Giancarlo Granda, Trey’s business partner in the hostel’s LLC.

In its February 2013 articles of organization in Florida, Alton Hostel LLC listed 3200 Sunnymeade Road in Rustburg, Virginia, as its mailing address. According to records filed with the county of Campbell, Virginia, the Sunnymeade property, which is 21 acres in size and includes a three-bedroom house, is currently owned by Trey Falwell and his wife. But at the time of the LLC’s formation in 2013, the property was owned by Liberty University—Trey Falwell and his wife were renting the house from Liberty for $600 a month, according to a high-ranking source who works for the school. The university continued to own the property until it was sold to Trey Falwell in May 2015 for $225,000. Speaking on background, sources at Liberty University told POLITICO Magazine that this price was fair-market value, and was assessed as such by a neutral third party.

While it is possible for a nonprofit such as Liberty University to engage in financial transactions with a senior officer or close family member of a senior officer, a number of legal limitations and restrictions apply, according to Lloyd Mayer, a professor at University of Notre Dame Law School who specializes in taxation and nonprofit law. The most obvious regulation involves the nonprofit disclosing that the sale took place—which, in this case, did not happen.

Speaking on background with POLITICO Magazine, a senior Liberty University official claimed that the disclosure was unnecessary because it did not result in an “excess benefit transaction.” But instructions from IRS Form 990 say otherwise: Any “business transactions” that exceeded $100,000 during the tax year had to be reported if they were with an “interested person.” According to legal experts consulted by POLITICO Magazine, Trey Falwell—who is Liberty University’s vice president of university operations in addition to being the son of the school’s president and grandson of its founder—would surely count as an interested person.

Members of Liberty University’s legal team declined to speak on the record with POLITICO Magazine. In an email exchange made on the condition of anonymity, one senior university official familiar with the matter stated that the university does not find that the single sale of a home under these circumstances amounts to a business transaction. Instead, the university sees it as a “one-time personal transaction.” When asked to explain the difference, this official said that was “a fact-specific question dependent on many things.” Responding to repeated requests for clarification, Liberty University officials refused to answer this question on the record.

Several tax experts say the distinction Liberty has offered is not supported by IRS instructions.

“It’s bullshit,” says Eve Borenstein, an attorney and recognized expert on nonprofit tax law who is sometimes known as the “Queen of the 990,” as she was introduced before giving testimony at a congressional hearing in 2012. Borenstein says Liberty does not get to decide whether the sale of land to Trey Falwell constitutes a business transaction that needs to be disclosed: “That would moot the whole point of the schedule.”

According to the 2014 instructions for Schedule L, “business transactions,” which include “contracts for sale,” that exceeded $100,000 during the tax year have to be reported if they are with an “interested person.” Further, Mayer clarifies, “a transaction does not have to be part of operating a business or obtaining services for it to be reportable.”

Borenstein says that Liberty officials’ use of the word “personal” offends her, because the school is “suggesting that they could be doing something personally with their money that I don’t have a right to inquire about.” The point of these tax filings, she says, are to expose these kinds of insider transactions to the court of public opinion. “The whole reason for the disclosure is so that people have the opportunity to say, ‘Falwell sold something to his kid—did he do it right?’”

The university says it followed protocol by having its board of trustees vote to approve the sale—a vote ahead of which Jerry Falwell excused himself from the room, university officials tell POLITICO Magazine. But a brief look into the board’s history suggests that the board, not unlike the faculty, serves largely at the whims of Jerry Falwell. For example, last year, Mark DeMoss, a Liberty alum, longtime board member and chair of its executive committee—a man whose dedication to Evangelical Christianity is beyond reproach, as evinced by his years of service to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom he likened to a “second father” and for whom he served as chief of staff—was pushed off Liberty’s board after he voiced his disagreement with Falwell’s endorsement of Trump to the Washington Post. Trump, said DeMoss, does not represent the “Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.” Falwell quickly accused DeMoss—the son of the Liberty benefactor whose name graces DeMoss hall, the main building on campus—of being, in DeMoss’ words, the disloyal “political pawn of a rival campaign.” He was gone about a month later.

Perhaps DeMoss is an exception, but his ordeal does suggest that board members, like faculty members who wish to give media interviews, don’t enjoy complete freedom to disagree with Falwell. And in such an environment, the interests of the Falwells and those of Liberty University cannot help but to blur.

“This scenario just feels wrong,” says Kimberly Reeve, an associate professor of business at King’s College and an expert in nonprofit management. She notes that Liberty is in a unique situation: It’s a huge nonprofit organization with significant real estate holdings. For Reeve, the primary question “should be whether or not the sale of this property was in the best interest of the university and helped it fulfill its mission. If questioned, the university should be able to indicate exactly how this sale did that.” Otherwise, such a land sale would suggest that the university was not acting primarily in its own best interests, but instead, acting to the benefit of other parties.

There’s smoke,” says Borenstein. “The logical next question is, what else has the school left out of its tax filings?”
Asked by POLITICO Magazine how specifically this sale of land to Trey Falwell was in the best interests of Liberty University, senior university officials again refused to speak on the record. In a statement given to POLITICO Magazine with the condition that it not be attributed, one top Liberty official explained that “the small house that Trey bought is located on the outer fringes of about 7,500 acres owned by the university” and is located “several miles from campus.” According to the university official, “the board decided that [the property] had no use to the university in the fulfillment of its mission.” (As a matter of public record, the Campbell County Assessor’s office shows that the university still owns the land abutting three of the four sides of Trey Falwell’s Sunnymeade property, part of a sprawling Liberty-owned lot that stretches further away from campus for nearly another half-mile.)

Someone could argue that a $225,000 sale is a drop in the bucket for an institution with assets valued in the billions. But that justification misses the point, says Borenstein. “Liberty says they did this transaction correctly, but [POLITICO Magazine] had to uncover it—so there’s smoke. And you don’t know if there are other transactions to ask about. The logical next question is, 'What else has the school left out of its tax filings?'”


Inside the Falwells’ hostel, the stench of general decay and cigarette smoke is overpowering. Walking to the lobby, Andy and I passed down narrow hallways as spatterings of people milled about, smoking, talking to each other, playing billiards, staring into their phones. There’s an ashtray on every table—two at the red bar, above which shone a Miller Lite sign.

As we approached the reception desk, the older of the two men behind the counter cocked his eyebrow, as if to ask us what the hell we wanted. “We’re checking in,” Andy explained. “Oh,” said the younger one, his burly biceps bulging out from his tank top. “Give us five minutes. You can go into the kitchen.”

The kitchen was also what you might call the business center: Two computers lined a wall, next to which stood a bookcase with a Bible hidden on the second-to-bottom shelf, buried amid the kind of fiction your fourth-grade teacher might read at the beach. Across from the books was a wall display of Minicards advertising local entertainment and other venues for tourists and offering coupons for their business. One of them caught my eye: a closeup of a redhead with entirely too much eyeshadow, sporting a wide choker around her neck. Tootsie’s Cabaret: 74,000 square feet of adult entertainment and FULL NUDITY.

I took a seat at a hightop, and tried to figure out the situation at the only other occupied table in the kitchen. A guy and girl were seated across from each other. The girl stared blankly at the guy, who was very angry at whomever he was on the phone with. I couldn’t understand anything he said except a few shouted fucks.

Andy grimaced at the stench of the room. “I have to breathe through my mouth,” he said quietly, before heading back to the lobby to check in. Minutes later, he returned holding two frayed towels and a folded pile of formerly white bedding. The employees had advised him that we should go to CVS and buy locks to keep our belongings secure while we slept. There’d been thefts, and management took pains to remind us that they weren’t responsible for what happened to our stuff. “Seriously, Brandon, there’s a Hyatt just up the street,” Andy said.

We made the way to our room, climbing up a narrow green staircase and passing through a hallway straight out of a slasher film—long and narrow, with a dim light flickering at the end of it.

As soon as we unlocked the door, I smelled incense, which masked the unmistakable scent of marijuana. Two guys were conversing in Spanish, while another sat on a lower bunk fidgeting with his fishing rod. Everyone quickly, almost imperceptibly acknowledged us, and we returned the greeting. There were six bunks, two of which were reserved for us. Andy took one top bunk and I threw my stuff on the only other open top bunk, in the opposite corner of the room.

I introduced myself to the stranger who’d be sleeping 3 feet below me. “Hi, I’m Brandon.”

“Alejandro.” He extended a hand. He said he’d been here for a few days and usually stays here when he’s in the area—he travels a lot, picking up one-off construction jobs. “My home is everywhere and nowhere.” Last week he was in Cuba, which he guaranteed I’d love.

“Just go now,” he said, “before your … Trump.” He rolled his eyes as he said the name, with more derision than scorn. Alejandro took a quick peek around and then pulled his suitcase out from underneath his bunk. “I want to show you something.”

He pulled out a T-shirt featuring a caricature of the president, surrounded by the words Fuck El Payaso.

“Do you know what it means?” he asked, wearing a huge grin. “Means clown! Your president! I got it in Mexico—it’s how they call him there.”

So much for the NO POLITICS rule.


In January 2016, when Falwell hosted a speech in Iowa by then-candidate Trump, he engaged in a bit of Trumpian self-aggrandizement, crediting his own wizardry with saving the once troubled Liberty University. “We spent the ’80s and ’90s struggling to survive,” Falwell told the audience in Davenport, referring to the school’s past near bankruptcy and $100 million debt. “One of the things that attracted me to Donald Trump is that I see our country at a stage now where we’re approaching $20 trillion in debt, and it reminds me of where Liberty University was in the 1990s,” he said before endorsing the candidate for president.

When Trump came onstage, he returned the favor. “The job Jerry’s done at Liberty University is amazing,” Trump said. “One of the things I noticed the other day looking over numbers … looking at different colleges, and you’re one of the most financially solid, financially sound universities in the entire United States, with a tremendous endowment and tremendous amounts of money,” Trump proclaimed. “You don’t have debt.” (Falwell responded to Trump’s flattery with a caveat: “That’s why I have to make it clear that it’s not Liberty’s endorsement, it’s my personal endorsement—because the IRS would love to get their hands on that, too.”)

President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell on stage during Liberty University’s commencement ceremony on May 13, 2017.
President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell on stage during Liberty University’s commencement ceremony on May 13, 2017. | Getty Images
Liberty University may not have debt, but its students and graduates do. A lot of it. And that’s how the school—and the Falwells—made their money.

Liberty bills itself as the world’s largest Christian university—and that’s true. But once you start breaking down its numbers, as Kevin Carey recently did for the New York Times, a much more complicated picture emerges of a place that sells itself as an educational Eden.

“Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns a huge for-profit college,” Carey wrote. Although Falwell boasts that his school has tens of thousands of students, his residential program has only 14,000, a small fraction of the overall figure. Liberty’s online program has about 64,000, nearly four times as many, making it second only to the University of Phoenix in terms of the size of its online student body. On paper, the only difference between the two online schools is that Liberty’s is tax-exempt. In 2015, it received $345 million from federal undergraduate grant and loan programs—more than twice the amount received by the largest public university in the country. “Liberty’s considerable financial success—it has built a $1 billion cash reserve, and Mr. Falwell is paid more than $900,000 a year,” Carey wrote, “was underwritten largely by the federal taxpayer.” That money has blessed the Falwells with a life of considerable plenty, giving them the financial means to, among other things, purchase a $4.65 million property in Miami Beach. (A university spokesperson disputes that characterization but repeatedly refused to speak on the record about the matter.)

Liberty University may not have debt, but its students and graduates do. A lot of it. And that’s how the school—and the Falwells—made their money.
Some of the federal funds Liberty students receive pay for an education that is not only explicitly religious, but which requires proselytizing. At Liberty, perhaps the two most controversial examples of this are the school’s Creation Studies 290 and Evangelism 101 courses.

According to Liberty’s website, the purpose of the university’s Center for Creation Studies is to “research, promote, and communicate a robust young-Earth creationist view of Earth history. Beginning with sound biblical interpretation, we seek to understand how science can inform us about God's magnificent creation.” The Center operates Creation Hall, which boasts fossilized bones from an Allosaurus, which according to young-Earth science, are 6,000 to 10,000 years old—as old as literally everything else in the universe.

At the 2010 dedication of Creation Hall, Rev. Jonathan Falwell, Jerry, Jr.’s brother and the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, hailed the exhibit as an opportunity for Christians to “stand up for the truth.” Liberty University, he promised, “will always hold to the truth accounted in Genesis.” That probably explains why the course was a graduation requirement from at least 2004, when I began as a student there, until the 2016-2017 school year, when it was no longer required for certain degree programs.

Evangelism 101, on the other hand, continues to be a graduation requirement for residential Liberty students. The very first line of the course syllabus describes it as “an in-depth study of how to lead people to Christ.” The course rationale is even more clear: “This course was designed in obedience to the biblical mandate supported by Liberty University to evangelize the lost. Its purpose is to train the student to evangelize and to equip others for evangelism in today’s culture.” To pass the course, students are required to write a “witness report,” a two-page paper that documents a “face-to-face encounter” they have with one “unbeliever” to whom they evangelize. (I imagine the Miami Hostel would provide ample opportunity for this kind of proselytization, if only its owners allowed it on property.) If you’re a non-believer, you’re still required to take the course, but can opt for a slightly different path: “If not a Christian, the student will instead write a paper of the same length for equal grading consideration explaining why he or she is not a Christian and elaborating on the teachings presented in the course.”

There’s little doubt that Liberty’s intent in requiring these courses is idealistic, as I well know from attending the university for my undergraduate degree. The school is, after all, premised on the fervent shared beliefs of all those in its orbit. But some employers seem to not think much of it—which may be why so many students have a hard time landing decent salaried jobs and paying back their loans. Within three years of graduating from Liberty University, almost 10 percent of students default on their loans, well above the national average of 6.5 percent among recent graduates of private nonprofit four-year colleges (its default rate is nonetheless slightly lower than the national average graduates of all colleges, profit and nonprofit). While most don’t default, many make almost no effort to reduce their balances, says Carey, who notes that “only 38 percent of Liberty borrowers manage to pay down as little as one dollar on their student loan principal within three years of leaving school.”

Were Liberty a for-profit school, it would have to note its lousy loan repayment rates on its promotional material, thanks to borrower protections put into place during the Obama administration. It’s not unlike a lung cancer warning on cigarette packaging, says Carey: “U.S. Department of Education Warning: A majority of recent student loan borrowers at this school are not paying down their loans.”

The rationale was that the requirement would protect students from taking on a lifetime of debt from fraudulent schools. In a March 2016 news release announcing debt relief for students defrauded by 91 campuses of Corinthian College, the Department of Education said it was committed to “aggressive and comprehensive action to address fraudulent, illegal and abusive practices in higher education.”

Last January, Falwell told the Chronicle of Higher Education that Trump assigned him to a task force to identify changes that should be made in the Department of Education. Among those items on his list, said Falwell, were “overreaching regulation” and “borrower defense” rules. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues,” Falwell told the Chronicle.

Students and guests sing songs of praise ahead of Donald Trump’s appearance any Liberty’s January 18, 2016 convocation.
Students and guests sing songs of praise ahead of Donald Trump’s appearance any Liberty’s January 18, 2016 convocation. | Getty Images
Undoubtedly some of these issues are ones whose repeal could help Liberty continue raking in dough. According to its tax documents, Liberty’s “primary mission” is to provide “quality collegiate education” (language that no doubt satisfies federal requirements). While plenty of its residential programs fulfill this mission, some might question if the school’s insanely profitable online programs provide the same educational quality. One online graduate-level religion course, for example, Strategic Prayer and Spiritual Warfare (Evangelism 670), requires students to write a 7- to 10-page final paper outlining “a plan for growth in various aspects of his/her prayer life.” For full-time non-divinity students pursuing a master’s degree online, the cost of this three-credit course is $1,695. (Divinity students, however, can take advantage of special block rate pricing of $2,750 per semester.) The core of most of Liberty’s online classes is the group discussion board, in which students are expected to discuss class content. Each discussion board assignment consists of an initial 200 to 400 word thread and two 150-300 word replies to two other threads; many do not require students to use sources. These discussions constitute a large portion of a student’s final grade. (In Torts Law (JURI 560), for example, students of Liberty’s online law school can earn three times as many points for their discussion board participation than their semester-capping “Biblical Torts Research Paper.”)

With this in mind, it’s not a stretch to view Liberty’s online business model—which saved the school from ruin and brings in most of its profit—as something of a slumlord scenario: Keep costs low, bring in struggling customers looking for a bargain, and give them a low-quality product. Not unlike the Falwells’ Miami hostel.

When questioned about the quality of Liberty’s online education offerings, university officials declined to speak on the record with POLITICO Magazine. In an email sent on the condition of anonymity, a Liberty spokesperson said that the school had just received a 10-year accreditation renewal “after an exhaustive review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools[,] … a tough regional accreditor that requires Liberty to meet the same academic standards regardless of the method of course delivery.” The official also said that educational outcomes are best measured by Liberty’s students, and as evidence, referred POLITICO Magazine to a page on the school’s website titled “What Alumni Say,” featuring positive testimonials by select alumni.

Other graduates have a decidedly different view of not only the quality of a Liberty education, but the moral character of the school’s leadership.

For some alumni, displeasure with Liberty University has been growing for a while, but Chancellor Falwell’s recent defense of President Trump’s remarks about the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—there were “very fine people on both sides,” Trump said; “he’s not politically correct … and that’s one of the reasons I supported him,” Falwell told Martha Raddatz on ABC News’ “This Week”—led them to organize a more public expression of their disapproval of Falwell.

On September 5, dozens of Liberty graduates are planning to return their diplomas to Falwell “to protest the university’s departure from its core mission and values and to communicate our strong disgust with both the chancellor, and the university that continues to employ him,” according to a letter penned by the group. The signatories allege that by failing to disavow Trump’s “open disrespect for ostensible Christian ideals,” Falwell has “degraded [Liberty’s] core mission and defiled its core beliefs, substituting the worship of power and influence for the worship of God. Ten years after [Rev.] Jerry Falwell’s death, the decades-long criticisms of the concept of a Religious Right have been proven true.”

Calling the mail-back a “joke” and “publicity stunt,” Falwell told the Independent Journal Review, a conservative news website, that the graduates are merely “grandstanding to gain five minutes of fame.” “Shame on the media for even reporting,” he said.

But for many alumni—and, based on my previous reporting, quite a few current faculty and students—Liberty University has come to represent what happens when religion commingles with soliciting, fundraising, politics and salesmen.

Maybe that’s why those activities aren’t welcome at the Miami Hostel. From experience, the Falwells know what strange bedfellows those pursuits often prove to be.

Brandon Ambrosino is a writer living in Delaware. His pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, The Atlantic and the BBC, among other outlets. ... ell-215528
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby American Dream » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:37 am

Jerry Falwell, Wally Hilliard, & Transnational Organized Crime

By Daniel Hopsicker - October 13, 2019


Kurds are being slaughtered in Syria, there’s a tsunami in Japan, hundreds of ISIS fighters have escaped from jail, and Attorney General Bill Barr, who according to numerous witnesses while working for the CIA enabled cocaine trafficking through Mena, Arkansas during the 1980’s, was delivering a speech at Notre Dame blaming “the decline of religion” and the “destruction of moral order” in the U.S. for the drug abuse he helped create.

ImageSo why should anyone care about the latest corrupt conservative Christian evangelical, Jerry Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University, his wife, and a pool boy in Miami? Or give a second thought to the imbroglio over his continued leadership of the influential Bible college in Lynchburg, Virginia?

Two reasons: Falwell is currently instrumental in shoring up Donald Trump’s base of evangelicals, eighty-one percent of whom still plan on voting for Donald Trump, despite his flouting of their “traditional values.”

Falwell is also backing Trump’s ‘controversial’ decision to abandon the Kurds. He said Trump was simply “keeping his promise to keep America out of endless wars.”

“The president has got to do what’s best for the country, whether it helps him with this phony impeachment inquiry or not,” Falwell said in an interview.

Moreover, evangelical Christians have been among Trump’s most loyal supporters. They stood with him through the “Access Hollywood” tape and the Stormy Daniels payoff, through public vulgarity and blasphemy, through cruelty to migrant children and abuses of power for personal gain. In exchange, they can point to policies and judges restricting abortion and gay rights.


But I like the second reason: It’s not every day that a controversy over the latest Christian evangelical’s involvement in rampant corrupt and seemingly criminal activity reveals new information about the 9/11 attack.

But that’s what recently happened.

ttps:// ... zed-crime/
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Re: The "Christian" Mafia

Postby thrulookingglass » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:10 am

Read the rest of Hopsicker's article. If we only knew then what we know now. Is there anything worse than false piety? For some reason, there's not even a wikipedia page for Wally Hilliard. Anyone wonder why Wally lent Falwell the funds and how he earned the million dollars lying around to lend someone?

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