Head of university that bans gay students on the grounds of ‘morality’ apologises for looking like a ‘drunk, unzipped mess’

Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of one of America's largest Christian colleges, was abraded by right-wing criticism for a photograph of himself and a woman at a party. (Instagram)

The head of a major anti-LGBT+ evangelical university in the US apologised after a photograph of himself, his face flushed and his jeans unzipped, caused a stir online.

Jerry Falwell Jr, an ardent supporter of Donald Trump and president of Liberty University, fielded criticism after he uploaded a photograph of himself on a yacht with his arm around a woman, both their midriffs exposed, onto Instagram on Sunday (1 August). It was swiftly deleted.

Liberty, a private Christian university, has come under some scrutiny in the past for its staunch opposition to LGBT+ rights.

The university banned all LGBT+ groups in 2006 on the grounds of ‘morality’, and in 2014 secured an exemption from federal anti-discrimination laws to allow it to discriminate against LGBT+ people. Drinking alcohol is also prohibited by its guidelines.

Falwell Jr tried to tamper criticism Wednesday (5 August) in an interview with radio station WLNI FM 105.9. He claimed that the woman pictured was his wife’s assistant, and then gave an elaborate explanation as to why he posed for the picture.

Jerry Falwell Jr: ‘I’m gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.’

Fawell Jr captioned the since-deleted post, which consisted of several photographs according to screen captures: “More vacation shots.

“Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass,” he added, referencing the glass he was holding in the second image: “It was a prop only.”

According to the Pulpit & Pen, video footage appeared to indicate that Fawell Jr was hosting a party on his boat that was themed after the Trailer Park Boys, a raunchy Canadian comedy series.

The photograph quickly became a lightning rod for criticism among conservative circles. “How is this Jerry Falwell Jr photo even real?” tweeted Meghan McCain.

“Also if you’re running the largest Christian university in America maybe don’t put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht – with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical.”

In the radio interview, Falwell described the scene leading up to the photo: “She’s pregnant so she couldn’t get her… she couldn’t get her pants up.

“And I was like, trying to like, my, I had on pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn in a long time so I couldn’t get mine zipped either.

“And so… and so, just put my belly… I just put my belly out like hers.”

How… very specific.

Addressing complaints, Fawell Jr said: “It was a costume party and we were on vacation and anyway, long story short it was just in good fun. That’s it.

“She’s a sweetheart and I never should have put it up or embarrassed her,” he added.

“I’ve apologised to everybody and I’ve promised my kids I’m going to try to be better. I’m going to try to be a good boy.”