Falwell Insurance Policy Lifts Liberty University Out of Debt

August 13, 2007

The late Rev. Jerry Falwell left a $34 million life insurance policy to the college and church he founded, ridding the financially troubled Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., of its debt, his son said.

Most of the payment, $29 million, went to Liberty, which Falwell founded in 1971, and the rest was given to Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said. His evangelical minister father died in May at age 73.

Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority political lobbying group, had worked to recover from financial troubles in the 1980s that were due to a drop in donations largely because of scandals involving evangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.

Donations to Falwell’s ministry dropped from $135 million in 1986 to less than $100 million a year later, and hundreds of workers were laid off. The school was $82 million in debt in 1992, Falwell’s son said Friday.

By the mid-1990s, two Lynchburg-area businessmen began overseeing the finances and helped get companies to forgive debts or write them off as losses. The university will now work to build an endowment, Falwell Jr. said.

Liberty expects to have more than 10,000 students this year.

Topics Education Universities

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