Liberty University instructor resigns after Jerry Falwell Jr.'s blackface tweet

June 15, 2020
(Courtesy photo)

A day after Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Virginia, tweeted an image of a face mask depicting figures in blackface and dressed as Klansmen, Christopher House, an online instructor for the university, announced his resignation on Facebook.

House, a Pente­costal pastor and an associate professor of communication studies at Ithaca College, responded to Fal­well’s tweet: “As an African American man and Christian pastor, I am horrified and appalled that the president of the largest Christian university in the world would knowingly and intentionally use images that evoke a deep history of racial terror for people of color in the U.S., specifically individuals who look like me, for the purpose of a political statement to the Governor of Virginia.”

House joined Liberty University online last year to teach an intercultural communications class. “I was brought in to teach Liberty students about meaningful conversations around race and racism, to help them understand the very thing their president reinforces by drawing on these images of racial terror,” House told Religion News Service.

House described how recent acts of racial violence make Falwell’s tweet particularly abhorrent: “For him to use those images right now in this moment when black and brown communities are grieving the murder of George Floyd is pure evil, ungodly and immoral.”

House said that Falwell’s tweets “under­mine my very presence in the on­line classroom, because those images were created to perpetuate the presumed in­competence of black folks in any classroom.”

Liberty University has not responded to a request for comment on House’s resignation.

“I hope people realize Jerry Falwell does not represent the God of the Bible or Jesus of the Bible,” House said. “God is a God of liberation and justice, who has declared we are all created in the image of God. To use images that individuals are anything less than the image of God is inexcusable.” —Religion News Service