In several states across America, Republican governors and legislatures are violating the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against using taxpayer dollars allocated for public schools to fund private religious schools. Founding Father James Madison wrote in 1796 that religious freedom means that “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” However well-intentioned the Founding Fathers were to protect Americans from supporting religion, that sentiment has never caught on in America. Now it appears that taxpayers are not only being compelled to support private religious “places and ministries” in Republican-led states, they are being compelled to support the largest Christian “university” in the world.
As a recent report reveals, and it is a very disturbing revelation, one of the Republicans’ most coveted welfare recipients, Liberty University, the fundamentalist “institution” founded by Baptist scam artist Jerry Falwell has become the largest “private, Christian, tax exempt” conservative candidate mill in the United States of America. The slap in the face to American taxpayers, and an affront to the Constitution’s Separation Clause, is that taxpayers are furnishing a majority of the funding, and huge profits, to the Christian madrassa in two distinct ways. First, Liberty University, and calling it a legitimate university is an abomination, brings in the majority of its revenue from taxpayer-funded federal aid, and because it is a so-called “charitable religious organization,” the bible school and its substantial staff of clergy are exempt from paying taxes.
As one religion writer noted, “evangelical students find Liberty attractive because they can take courses online and have taxpayer-funded welfare cover their living expenses. Federal aid to Liberty’s students has grown so high that it now exceeds all other revenue collected by the university.” To be clear, federal financial aid, like grants, does not go directly to the ‘university,’ but it does go directly to Christian students to pay for enrollment and tuition at the Baptist bible school. In fact, education experts say one of the reason evangelical conservatives love attending the bible college is that taxpayer money pays for all their school expenses as well as their living expenses while they “profit” from an evangelical educational experience. In return, taxpayers are now suffering from Republicans who were educated in how to legislate “the Christian worldview” as the law of the land.
The growth of the Baptist “conservative propaganda mill” is due to well-meaning Democrats who believed it was a good idea to financially assist Americans seeking to gain a real education in real educational institutions of higher learning; something that Liberty University definitely does not qualify as. To get an idea of just how rapidly a small private Baptist, tax exempt, pretend university can grow with free welfare from unknowing taxpayers, the bible-based Republican organization grew from 5,939 undergraduate students and 735 graduate students to 49,744 undergraduates and 31,715 graduate students in a little over a decade.
In fact, according to data from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, taxpayer-funded federal aid for the private Baptist “college” grew five times faster than bible school’s enrollment. At the beginning of the 21st Century, Liberty’s students received less than $20 million in total federal aid in a good year. That number has grown to well over $800 million every year courtesy of welfare from unwitting taxpayers; there is no data available for the billion-plus dollars taxpayers furnish the private Baptist school every year. Even though it is a private enterprise employing a Republican business model, Liberty University is like every church in America and is exempt from paying taxes, but it is not exempt from collecting other Americans’ tax dollars.
Using taxpayer-funded federal aid is a critical part of the Baptist “school’s” business model it employs to create a “uniquely Republican” education program for conservative evangelical extremists; particularly through the bible college’s “online learning experience.” As the enrollment numbers “increased exponentially,” taxpayer funding has grown even faster. For example, when enrollment tripled, federal aid quadrupled. When enrollment doubled again, federal aid quadrupled again and taxpayers continued picking up the tab. Being in the private religious school business is a very profitable enterprise financially and politically.
The reason American taxpayer’s should be incensed is that Liberty University was just a small bible college facing financial challenges because its curriculum focused solely on “fundamentalist Baptist theology” and indoctrinating students in Republican politics using propaganda to teach bible students to oppose federal government overreach. Now, although the curriculum remains the same, billions of dollars in taxpayer funding has allowed the private Baptist “school” to grow into an enormous evangelical Republican production facility.
One wonders why Americans are not outraged that they are funding a private “bible school” with $800 million of their hard-earned tax dollars; particularly since it teaches “university-level” creationism, evangelical fundamentalism, Republican politics, support for Koch-style capitalism and free enterprise, and theocratic conservatism. In fact, the entire curriculum is centered around indoctrinating into student’s psyche a religious commitment to promote the “Christian worldview;” the same worldview that Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are busy legislating into law.
It is truly a tragedy that an anti-government private Baptist college has exploded in size, financial resources and substantive presence on Capitol Hill where its evangelical alumni are now a very familiar sight and powerful force in government. Every single Republican presidential candidate has spoken at Liberty University that supporters say make it “the symbolic hub of conservative Christianity.” According to Baptist preacher and former Liberty University senior vice president, Johnnie Moore, “Liberty is to academia what Fox News is to the media. No one talks anymore about whether Liberty is the heart of conservatism. It is an institution that, whether you like it or not, everyone in America has to pay attention to because it exemplifies the journey of conservative evangelicals into political life.”
That there is no outcry from Americans that their tax dollars are funding a private Baptist college that is a major contributor of the recent dangerous and unprecedented rise of evangelical political power in Washington and the states. It is the fulfillment of every Christian theocrat’s dream to have at their disposal, according to fundamentalist Christians and Dominionists; “a powerful evangelical institution that is changing America through the law, medicine, and conservative politics.” The abomination is that as Americans are watching their nation being raped by religious Republican extremists, they likely do not know they are funding the indoctrination of the religious Republicans imposing evangelical theocracy, or Christian Sharia, on America.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.