William Willimon, former chaplain at Duke and now a United Methodist bishop, tells about the time he invited Jerry Falwell to speak. He did it on a dare, not expecting Falwell to accept. But Falwell showed up with bells on, so to speak. The Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgendered Alliance demanded Willimon be fired for inviting a man infamous for his "close-minded, racist, homophobic, self-righteous, incendiary rhetoric."Ouch. I haven't seen a facial like that since Vince Carter dunked on that 7'2" dude.
On the appointed evening, the student crowd was baited for bear. One of the first questions was, "How many African Americans do you have at your Liberty University?" "Young lady," said Falwell, "you could not have asked a question that hurts me more deeply." He went on about how hard he had worked over the years to recruit minority students and how he regularly discussed the matter with Coretta Scott King. "She told me not to be so consumed with the problem. But I can't help myself."
He finally allowed that only 12 percent of the students at Liberty are African Americans. Then he asked, "Do you know, by the way, how many African Americans are enrolled at Duke?" No response. Falwell said, "I'll tell you. Six percent. Six percent! Your endowment is 50 times bigger than ours. You have had years to work on this issue (though admittedly you spent half your life as a racially segregated school). In fact, I struggled with whether the Lord wanted me to come here tonight to a school that, though you have been given great gifts, has such a poor record of minority enrollment. I pray that you will let the Lord help you do better in this area."
October 16, 2007
Any More Questions?
Richard John Neuhaus, writing in the November issue of First Things:
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