This (see press release, here and below) might seem like an “Onion”-style parody, but…amazingly, it’s true; Liberty University President Jerry Falwell says he supports changing the name of Lynchburg as “an embarrassment to Liberty University ever since we started.” Gotta say, I didn’t say *that one* coming! LOL
Liberty President Jerry Falwell backs move to rename Lynchburg
July 10, 2020 : Liberty University News Service
An aerial view of Downtown Lynchburg
In the wake of an online petition last month to change the name of Lynchburg, Va., where most of the Liberty University campus is located, Liberty President Jerry Falwell said he would back a name change even though the term was not derived from the act of lynching.
“I personally support changing the name of the city of Lynchburg. It’s been an embarrassment to Liberty University ever since we started,” Falwell said. “That was one of the reasons Liberty’s original name was changed from Lynchburg Baptist College to Liberty Baptist College in 1976.”
He explained that people who do not know that the city was named for its founder, John Lynch, automatically think the name has a negative connotation. He said a name change would permanently eliminate any stigma.
“So many people from Liberty have told me that when they travel and tell people where they’re from, they’re often asked, ‘Why in the world would you want to live in a racist place like that?’ It’s because people take ‘lynch’ and they think it means there were lynchings here, when the truth is it was named after a Quaker.”
City historians say John Lynch was a Quaker and abolitionist. Many Quakers had to leave the state because they were hated for refusing to fight the British in the Revolutionary War, Falwell noted. “Quakers were pacifists,” he said. “It’s easy to be an abolitionist if you’re not willing to fire a gun to end slavery. After the Revolutionary War, it only took America about 80 years to end slavery from the Old World that existed for centuries, but that’s only because U.S. patriots were not pacifists.”
Falwell said he is indifferent to any new names that have been suggested for the city.
The online petition to Lynchburg City Council was started last month by Lynchburg resident Daisy Howard.
“The name of a city should not have such violent, racist, and horrifying connotations,” Howard writes in the petition’s description. “I understand it was named after a man named John Lynch, but why do we insist on explaining that when people react to its name poorly (understandably so)? Why do we insist on defending it? We understand the power in the word. We need to erase the power that word holds over the connotation to our city.”
The petition has garnered over 5,300 signatures, and Falwell said he plans to sign it as soon as possible.