Falwell U

By JERE REAL  |  August 3, 2006

Falwell has outlined his approach to education in many sermons. “I want you to know that the children, the students, don’t have any vote on what’s right or wrong around here,” he has said. “We tell them what to do what time to get up, what time to go to bed, and they say ‘yes sir’ and 'no sir’ and they wear what we tell them to wear. And the boys have one head of hair, and the gals dress like young ladies, and I want you to know that the kids who come through these schools know what life is all about.”

“Jesus Christ is the example,” according to the LBC catalogue, “and each student should seek to mold his behavior into that which brings honor to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Accordingly LBC students may not use profanity, gamble, dance, or attend movies (except the Disney and religious films shown on campus). “Students are expected generally to avoid anything which tends to identify them in their own or someone else’s mind with the youth counterculture of modern society,” the catalogue says.

Such anti-“hippie” sentiment pervades Liberty Baptist’s outlook. Hair length still worries the powers that be: “Men are not to have long hair, beards or mustaches…. This regulation means that sideburns may not be longer than the bottom of the ear lobe, and that hair may not come down over the top of the ear or touch the back of the collar.”  How this shorthaired, beardless look is reconciled with the injunction that Jesus Christ be the example is never explained. One likewise doesn’t see LBC faculty or staff with beards, long hair, or mustaches. The Reverend Falwell, however, must not supply such standards to his Moral Majority staff; his vice-president for communications, former NBC news man Cal Thomas, sports a bush mustache.

LBC regulations appear in a small handbook, “The Liberty Way,” given to each new student. It tells them, “the student interested in ‘doing his own thing’ will not be happy in the atmosphere of Liberty Baptist College.” Certainly one inclined to choose his own clothing would not be, since the college has a more intricate dress code than many military academies. Men must wear ties everywhere on campus and in academic buildings until 4:30 p.m. each day. But ties cannot be worn with flannel or sports shirts. By some odd logic, coats are not required with the dress shirts and ties, unless students are attending church services or concerts. This code also says that “shorts are never acceptable,” except for “intercollegiate athletics” – and even then, long pants must be worn to and from the event. Even joggers at LBC must cover their legs, and jeans are never acceptable outside dormitories, except for work.

For women, the code is equally restrictive. The primary requirement is for dresses or skirt-and-blouse or skirt-and-sweater combinations for church, class, or social events; pantsuits are permitted after 4:30 in less-formal settings, such as the library, lounges, or sports events. Women students must consider complex distinctions. “Pantsuits,” says the catalogue, “should follow these guidelines: no skin should show at the waist at any time or at any position; color and material must be complementary; pants may not be hip-huggers; women will refrain from wearing men’s cords or men’s jeans or shorts.”

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