Jerry Falwell injured in fall while drinking according to 911 call

By Bob Smietana
Jerry Falwell Becki Falwell

Less than a week after resigning as president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. was injured in a fall after drinking, according to 911 transcripts and audio obtained by the Huffington Post.

The Sept. 17 Huffington Post report said Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, called 911 on August 30 to report her husband had fallen down the stairs and was bleeding. According to the report, Becki Falwell told the dispatcher her husband had been drinking but would not say if he had been “drinking heavily.”

“I’m not going to answer that question,” she reportedly said. 

According to the Huffington Post, Jerry Falwell Jr. refused to let his wife take him to the hospital, but a first responder who went to the Falwells’ home found he had cuts on his face and slurred speech. The cuts were reportedly from a trash can that had empty alcohol containers in it. 

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Liberty officials had heard complaints about Jerry Falwell Jr. coming to campus while drunk. Falwell denied those claims.

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Faculty and students at Liberty, one of the country’s largest Christian universities, are barred from drinking. Staff are allowed to drink but could be fired if they show up to work under the influence. 

“Reporting to work under the influence of any illegal substance or alcohol will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination,” states the school’s employee handbook.

Falwell resigned in August after Reuter’s reported he and his wife had a long-term sexual relationship with a young man whom they also were in business with. Falwell had been placed on leave after posting a photo of himself with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman who was not his wife. In his hand was a glass with what he claimed was “black water.” 

“Since that time, additional matters came to light that made it clear that it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President,” the school said in announcing Falwell’s resignation last month.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. was well-known as a teetotaler and banned students from drinking when he founded Liberty in the early 1970s. The elder Falwell swore off alcohol after converting to Christianity in his youth.

His father, Carey Falwell, had been a bootlegger whose drinking cut short his life, according to a 1987 Associated Press account of the family’s history, and had shot and killed his own brother during an argument when the brother was drunk. 

″It bothered him so much he started drinking and got cirrhosis of the liver,″ Jerry Jr. told the AP.

Bob Smietana is editor-in-chief at Religion News Service.



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23 thoughts on “Jerry Falwell injured in fall while drinking according to 911 call”

  1. It hasn’t been that long since I was Adjunct Faculty at LU. I think Falwell is wrong on this – or it is a very recent change – but I don’t think faculty are allowed to drink there. Someone else may know more.

    1. Christian College Professor

      More disgraceful behavior that is entirely unacceptable. Good thing he’s gone, but too bad he was ever made President to tarnish the reputation of a Christian community with his sinful choices. No wonder the world laughs. Disgusting.

      1. The world is just as disgusted with Pharisees. Jesus was most put out with these folks. I pray that Mr. Falwell will see the end of these dark days and that the consequences will lead to repentance and change. Just remember, Noah got drunk and had sex with his daughters, Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and a murderer of the worst sort, and so it goes. God continued to use them in the way he saw fit, I pray it is the case here.

        1. Some distortion here of Biblical facts…..It was a drunken LOT who lay with his two daughters (thereby fathering the Moabites and the Ammonites). A drunken NOAH was discovered by his son Ham whose disrespect of his father’s naked state was repudiated by brothers Shem and Japheth.

  2. Sad to see this man fall so far, but also shows I believe that the university was his god and what he was worshiping rather than God Almighty. I pray that he and Becki will seek out and get some good Christian counseling.

  3. In addition to getting the physical help our brother in Christ needs, can we ALL pray for him … that the generational ties or curses (referring to alcohol spirit (s)) be broken off of his life and family.

    1. One needs to renounce the sins of fathers and not participate in them. Then they do not affect you. It’s not magical. The Lord requires us to make godly choices, flee the devil, and pursue sanctification

  4. Goosey gander has took him by the left leg. Some spirit to get slain in. I agree with Marcia, he himself probably contributed to public diminishing belief in belief. It’s strange to hear about a human and not God-like side to that couple.

    1. That’s the problem with Christian celebrities in the first place. There should not be any Christian celebrities. It’s just a greater form of deception.

  5. Julie, I appreciate the work you do to bring light to dark places in Christian leadership. But, why keep reporting on Jerry Falwell’s self-destructive behavior? He is no longer in leadership. At what point does your reporting move from bringing light to darkness to becoming gossip?

    1. J. Englberg: I agree with you. Sadly, these “watchers” or bloggers do lapse into “gossipers” at times, I’m afraid. The LU Board has enough information out there in public right now for them to begin their investigation. The Huff Post has done pretty much what Julie has done here. (I guess they did it first). Cease and desist, please. Instead of repeating what other blogs and other news reports say, some investigative journalism is in order.

      1. “The LU Board has enough information out there in public right now for them to begin their investigation”

        This and other articles serve the purpose of making clear just how badly the LU Board was violating their duty to begin with. Falwell may have stepped down, but the LU Board has yet to face its own accountability for dereliction of fiduciary duty, or address why they gave a $10M exit package to a drunk philanderer that repeatedly disgraced not just the University but the name of Christ.

        1. There is no evidence of him being a “philanderer” that I am aware of. He and Becki were obviously wrong in some of the choices they made. I do not like Jr. personally, and am glad he is gone. Some of the LU board knew he had a drinking problem and some didn’t. Those who did, were afraid to confront him, because he was ruthless when it came to retribution. As far as the $10M, it was cheaper to pay him than go through the courts, from a financial perspective. In addition, it was probably a better PR move for the university. I think the board clearly made a correct fiduciary decision. The $10M is a rounding error for the university. I hate he got a dime, but sadly, it was a part of his employment contract.

    2. Completely disagree, John. This article has of course, been covered by secular media so it is not as if Julie is reporting on something not widely known. Your definition of ‘gossip’ is clearly misapplied here.

      This report confirms long-standing rumours about Falwell’s drinking–including that it was noticed on campus–and is very pertinent to understanding the deep level of institutional cover-up that enabled him to hide his sins for so long.

      Liberty University and its board have yet to answer for their participation in Falwell’s sin as his enablers, and their shirking of their Scriptural duty to protect the students in their charge and address Falwell’s moral failings without partiality.

      Continued reporting will hopefully encourage them toward their own repentance.

      So keep the pressure on, Julie.

  6. John I disagree. Falwell’s leadership style grievously harmed many. Without a look at the man the harm has a higher likelihood of continuing.

  7. A note of sympathy: This incident probably had something to do with the distress and shame he felt after all the exposure and sudden departure from the university. Not knowing how to deal with all of the “pressures” , he took to wine for relief. He and his family need prayers, and maybe some privacy in such moments.

    Let the rest of the leaders be humble and make changes in their own lives. Let us be humble. The world is in trouble, much needs to be prayed about.

    1. If Falwell knows anything of the Christian faith, he knows that the remedy for his distress is repentance.

      It is his own choice to turn to alcohol instead of accepting the remedy that Jesus offers.

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