Liberty University announced today that Jonathan Falwell—the brother of former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. —will serve as its new campus pastor.
The announcement comes one day after David Nasser, former Liberty vice-president for spiritual development, announced his resignation in a video posted online and shared on social media.
Nasser has served in his role at Liberty since August 2014.
Falwell currently serves as the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC), the church his father, Jerry Falwell, Sr., founded. It is unclear if Falwell will continue in that role.
The board of TRBC has a supervisory role over Liberty University, at least on paper. According to Liberty’s articles of incorporation, TRBC has the power to remove Liberty University trustees if it believes they are failing to protect the school’s mission.
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Jerry Falwell, Jr., was added to TRBC’s board in April 2020. The Roys Report reached out to TRBC, asking if Jerry Falwell, Jr., remains on the board, but did not immediately hear back.
Today, Save 71, a group of Liberty alumni advocating for reform, tweeted that a “good first step” for Jonathan Falwell would be to “apologize for the spiritual abuse that Liberty has endured for years.”
The group added that Jonathan Falwell “has never once acknowledged the controversies and shame that his brother heaped on Liberty for the past half decade.” Noting that pastors are supposed to “protect their flock from wolves,” and “at LU, wolves have been in control for years,” the group urged Falwell to “lead in bold, uncomfortable ways.”
Pastors are supposed to be like shepherds — they protect their flock from wolves. At LU, wolves have been in control for years. If Jonathan takes this new role seriously, he’ll need to lead in bold, uncomfortable ways. We haven’t seen that from him before. We hope that changes.
— Save71 (@save71LU) April 8, 2021
In response to Nasser’s resignation, Jonathan Falwell yesterday on Twitter thanked Nasser for his “consistent and impactful ministry” at Liberty. Falwell added, “I appreciate Jennifer and David and look forward to seeing what God does through them in the future as they take their next steps in ministry.”
Thanks to @davidnasser for his consistent and impactful ministry at @libertyu during the past six years. I appreciate Jennifer and David and look forward to seeing what God does through them in the future as they take their next steps in ministry.
— Jonathan Falwell (@jonathanfalwell) April 7, 2021
However, Dustin Wahl, co-founder of Save 71, sharply criticized Nasser.
“David Nasser has weaponized grace at the expense of justice and he has weaponized kindness at the expense of truth,” said Wahl, “and he has quashed dissent against Falwell, Jr. for years, and that’s his legacy at Liberty.”
Save 71 also tweeted that Nasser’s statement was “dripping with the same spiritualized language he used to defend and legitimize Falwell Jr for the past seven years.”
In addition to taking a salary of $384K in 2018, Nasser also lived in a newly-built house on Liberty University’s Candler Mountain, valued at more than half-million dollars.
Nasser’s wife, Jennifer Nasser, was paid more than $96,000 by Liberty in 2018. Nasser’s son, Rudy Nasser, and his sister, Nastaran Morgan, also received salaries from Liberty.
Nasser said he is moving to Nashville to lead a nonprofit, but did not name the nonprofit.
In its statement regarding Nasser’s departure, Liberty said Nasser is moving to an opportunity where he will minister “on the behalf of orphans and foster children.” The university added that its parting with Nasser is “amicable and on good terms.”