Why is this ‘school’ accredited at all? And why does graduation from it quyalify someone to take a bar exam? Yes, the students who came forward and blew the whistle on this should be commended, but that doesn’t change what the ‘school’ actually is: A manufacturing plant for fake legal credentials, to be weilded by people who have as little use for reality as they do for the Constitution or any other of “man’s” laws.
From Religion Dispatches:
Late last month, after federal authorities arrested a Tennessee pastor on charges of aiding and abetting an international parental kidnapping, students at Liberty University Law School saw one of their exam questions come to life.
The pastor was charged with helping Lisa Miller, an “ex” lesbian, abscond to Nicaragua with her young daughter Isabella after she flouted a series of court orders requiring Isabella’s visitation with Miller’s former partner, Janet Jenkins. According to the criminal complaint and FBI affidavit, Miller has been in hiding with Isabella since September 2009, living in the beach house of Christian right activist and businessman Philip Zodhiates, whose daughter Victoria Hyden works as an administrative assistant at Liberty Law School.
Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially… civil disobedience was the answer.”
This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”
Sorry kids, but however much King invoked his religion, the legal matters – the only substantive issue that actual, existing government in any form has any right to address – were just that: legal matters.
Legal matters such as the legal matter of the U.S. Constitution – the supreme law of the land (I wonder what Staver and his christianist psychopaths have to say about that part of the Constitution, eh?) – taking precedence over statutes, rules and whims of state government officials and entities who, however much Staver, et. al., want to spin it, are the politico-legal predecessors in interest to Staver, et. al.?
That semester’s mid-term exam, obtained by RD [see excerpts of the actual exam here], included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her “as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.” After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, “Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?”
Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. “People were appalled,” said one of the students, adding, “especially as lawyers to be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.”
Again, while those who have come forward should be thanked for doing so, I have a question for them: What exactly did you expect from that ‘law school’? Were you totally oblivious to the reality that it is part of a ‘university’ founded by one of the worst hatemongers of the twentieth century, Jerry Falwell? And founded largely with money that he got poor white people to shovel into his over-stuffed coffers by scaring them with images of marrauding interracial gay couples infecting the entirety of the Virginia countryside with AIDS by buttfucking cows, seducing their manly sons and hypnotizing southern belles into hating men?
The law school, founded in 2004, “upon the premise that there is an integral relationship between faith and reason, and that both have their origin in the Triune God,” claims a vision “to see again all meaningful dialogue over law include the role of faith and the perspective of a Christian worldview as the framework most conducive to the pursuit of truth and justice.” The law school received accreditation from the America Bar Association last year.
The Foundations class is unlike anything offered at secular law schools, its purpose being to guide students toward a “Christian worldview” of the law. In the 2008-09 academic year, the required texts included David Barton’s Original Intent, which Barton’s website describes as “essential resource for anyone interested in our nation’s religious heritage and the Founders’ intended role for the American judicial system,” and Francis Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto.
But the students who spoke to RD worry that these Christian credentials will not serve them well after graduation. “If you walked into court and argued what Liberty wants you to,” said one, “you’d be laughed out of the room.”
So again I ask: Why is this ‘law school’ even allowed to exist, much less issue credentials that entitle people to sit for bar exams?
Staver’s views, they said, are “militant” and “fundamentalist.” He brooks no criticism from students or faculty. “He rules the law school like Moammar Gaddafi runs Libya,” said one of the students.
In “Revolutionary Hall,” alongside likenesses of King, Reagan, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and others, the school has installed a painting of Staver arguing before the Supreme Court. It depicts him arguing McCreary v. Kentucky, defending a constitutional challenge to a public Ten Commandments display—which he lost.
What’s more, the fundamentalist worldview imposed on students there may be having the opposite effect than Liberty intends. One of the students told RD, “I came in the type that watches Fox News all the time and was a pretty hardline right winger.” But the law school “changed my viewpoints and now I would consider myself a conservative-leaning moderate.”
Yes, but essentially students such as others mentioned in the piece – who knew the adoption law question was bullshit but barfed out an answer that they knew the ‘professors’ wanted to hear – were learning a time-honored legal strategy: Winning by being dishonest. ‘Academic dishonesty’ isn’t simply a synonym or plagiarism; it covers all forms of academic dishonesty – and everyone who passed that class by giving an answer that they not only didn’t believe in personally but also knew to be contrary to the actual supreme law of our land, ultimately are no better than Staver. They were simply paying their minor league dues in anticipation of the true major leagues of dishonesty – politics – when saying whatever someone in front of them wants to hear is rewarded with money, prestige and power.