Religion Unplugged

‘Racy picture’ of Liberty’s Jerry Falwell Jr. sparks curiosity and controversy

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-In” features analysis, fact checking and top headlines from the world of faith. Got feedback or ideas for this column? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at

“Wut is happening,” Houston Chronicle religion writer Robert Downen quipped on Twitter this week.

Downen’s colloquial query about an, um, unexpected snapshot of Jerry Falwell Jr. quickly went viral.

Falwell is, of course, the president of Liberty University and a prominent evangelical ally of President Donald Trump.

As noted by Julie Roys, an independent Christian journalist, the “racy picture” of Falwell and a woman was seemingly taken at a party on his yacht. Falwell posted the image to his Instagram page and then quickly deleted it.

“In the picture,” Roys explained, “Falwell and a woman, described as a friend, appear with their shirts hiked up and pants unzipped with the caption: ‘Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass.’”

UPDATE: Falwell takes indefinite leave of absence from Liberty after racy party photo

Roys added: “A video of the party also showed up on the internet, featuring Falwell and others at what appears to be a Trailer Park Boys themed party. The scenes are surprising, given that Falwell is the president of the largest Christian university in the country. One guest in the video makes a vulgar gesture toward the camera. Some are wearing tight clothes with bellies exposed. Many have cigarettes dangling from their mouths.“

At first, some questioned whether the man in the picture was actually Falwell. But it soon became clear that it was indeed him.

Later, Falwell apologized for posting the photo, Politico reported. But the same news article said he “also defended the incident as a vacation ‘costume party’ that was ‘just in good fun.’”

“I’ve apologized to everybody,” Falwell said in an interview with radio station WLNI 105.9 FM in Lynchburg, Va. “And I’ve promised my kids I’m going to try to be — I’m gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.”

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

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