By Vic Sizemore
In an evening church service at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1979, Jerry Falwell explained the academic foundation for Liberty Baptist College (which became Liberty University in 1984). He said, “We give all kinds of academic freedom, as long as it agrees with this book.”
Picture, if you will, Falwell behind his massive pulpit, holding up a black floppy Bible. “If it doesn’t,” he said, “it isn’t academic.” He continued, “I want you having all the academic freedom you want, as long as you wind up saying that the Bible account is true and all others are not.”
In 2008, a little over a year after Falwell’s death, I was in the midst of a career change. I had a chance encounter with a dean from Liberty University who told me of an opening in their English department. The rumors around town were that things were changing, loosening up, so I sent the dean my CV.
Several days later, I spent the morning touring Liberty’s campus and talking to various members of the administration. Before lunch, my faculty escort dropped me back in the English department for a meet-and-greet. After introductions and small talk, the lone woman in the group of teachers asked if I was ready for “The Inquisition.” The other professors laughed.
“What’s The Inquisition?” I asked.
“The doctrinal,” one of the men said.