Studying ‘Abroad’ at Liberty University

Andrew Gaines

In his book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University (Grand Central, March), Brown University sophomore Kevin Roose chronicles his semester “abroad” at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty is currently the largest evangelical university in the world, with over 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Jerry Falwell, also the founder of the Moral Majority and the founding pastor of one of America’s largest megachurches, is known (especially by rampant liberals like myself) as being the man who blamed September 11 on feminists, homosexuals, abortionists and the ACLU, among others. He also said that AIDS was “God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” Needless to say, not many of Roose’s Brown classmates envied him and his decision to study at Liberty for a semester. Roose, with a fiercely liberal family and educational background, could have easily dismissed the entire Liberty student population and their conservative principles, but he did not. He took classes like Evangelism 101, Old Testament and History of Life (which turned out to be a shameless plug for creationism). He went to Bible study groups, joined the Church choir, and went on a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach. With a style that is both poignant and comedic, Roose narrates the struggles he faced with two clashing ideologies in his life and his ultimate realizations about the differences (or lack thereof) between himself and a typical Liberty student. The Unlikely Disciple, an excerpt of which is in our July issue (and not on our website, hint hint), is definitely worth picking up. Roose manages to be simultaneously humanizing and sharply critical of his peers and of Liberty as an institution, providing a viewpoint that is often left out by those of who lean to the left. For more information, check out Roose's website or this YouTube trailer for the book:

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