Author denies book claims Falwell died broke


Falwell Inc. details how the Rev. Jerry Falwell built a business empire from his home base in Lynchburg.
COURTESY OF LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

On Wednesday, August 6, the New York Daily News published a cautionary tale about how the Rev. Jerry Falwell died $20 million in debt thanks to a failed real estate deal. Now it appears the Daily News and other media outlets who reported on the story, like the Atlantic Monthly, New York gossip site Gawker.com– and yes, even the Hook– are the ones who need to be cautioned.

The misinformation was reported in an article about the forthcoming book Falwell Inc. by Forbes reporter Dirk Smillie. The next day, Falwell's son Jerry Jr. went on local television to deny the report that Falwell had lost even a dime on Liberty Village–- a planned Christian community of 1,135 homes that served for a while as training grounds for the Lynchburg police SWAT team, and presently houses some students of Liberty University.

"The reporter never bothered to call us, to ask for verification or comment," Falwell told Roanoke's WDBJ-TV. "It's even more egregious because it's about someone who's deceased and can't defend himself."

Reached by the Hook today in his New York office, Smillie confirmed Falwell's statement. "They goofed," says Smillie of the Daily News. "It's false."

"I think what happened," he continues, "is that they connected what Falwell was marketing with Falwell himself. The developer to whom he sold the land lost $20 million and declared bankruptcy, but he hadn't invested in it, nor did his ministry."

Still, while Falwell didn't lose any money on the deal, his university did stand to gain if the Candler's Mountain development turned a profit. "The deal was that Liberty University would have gotten either 2.5 percent of each sale or 10 percent of the net income, whichever was larger," says Smillie, "but, of course, that never materialized."

The New York Daily News had not returned the Hook's call for comment at the time of this post.

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10 comments

Let me get this straight, a tabloid newspaper printed an inaccurate story? Shocking.

The liberty newspaper published an article several months ago indicating that Rev Falwells life insurance policy was used to pay the College out of debt - $29.5 million dollars. Yes he died broke, why do you think his wife turned to book writing...

Let's not distort the facts. He never paid his bills, neither did his school. They have been in financial trouble for well over 10 years.

He taught his students to do the same - pay the church first. He expected free food at local eating establishments, and usually got it, and left little, or no tips in most cases.

Pay the church First, he taught ALL his students. If other bills don't get paid, that isn't a problem - including rent, electric bills, credit cards etc.

You can ask any contractor in the Lynchburg area, none would work for Rev Falwell, due to not every getting paid for project after project.

How many kids came to lynchburg last year, to go to school at Liberty, but got sent home, due to lack of available student housing ??

What are the standards to get into Liberty - NONE...

They admit anyone, that applies, that has a way to pay....

That real estate project you mention, how many bet their life savings only to get NOTHING in return... no one ever mentions that.

He was paying close to $500,000.00 a month for a life insurance policy ($20+ million policy) for the past 2 years. Where do you think the money came from ??

Let's think a moment, just what is a degree at Liberty worth - it costs $15-35K a year to go their, but how many job offers, do graduates get, their senior year...

Would you believe, the numbers are well under, 1 in 100.

What? There's not a bit of truth in that post. LU has been under construction for the last 10 years at least and not one contractor has gone unpaid. He didn't get free meals when he went out. That's absurd. There is no such life insurance policy for $500k per month. That's called uninsurable. That entire post is just 100% fiction.

no lies, all is easily provable.

The life insurance did exist, and he was uninsurable, that is why it was so expensive.

The local contractors can verify non-payment.

I was one of the ones that ate at food establishments with falwell. I paid for my meals, and left tips, he did not.

Ever wonder who paid for all the new student housing - a investor from the Bahamas - no local contractors were used

The previous post is nonsense. Who has the time to post such crap?

that guy.

Dude, you just wasted a bunch of time bashing a dead guy, how great do you feel?

I wonder what Jesus would say about all this wealth?

I think Jesus would be pretty proud considering how many people Jerry both directly and indirectly brought to him...

using the wealth 0: )

Yes, Jesus would say "make more $$$, Jerry make more $$$, I like money"! But then again if Jesus was so materialistic he would not have worn a simple clothe and kicked the merchants out of the temple would he. Jesus' net worth was zero. How ironic in his name others are worth millions.

Marketing religion for $$$ is NOT what Jesus was about.