Martin was on campus as a guest of Johnnyswim, a band performing at Liberty. Martin told me that he was backstage in the green room when campus police officers arrived. Amanda Ramirez, one of Johnnyswim’s two lead singers, confirmed that they invited him to attend and informed university officials that he would be joining them. She said she was “shocked” by the college’s “overboard” behavior. On Twitter, the band called the university police’s response “a ridiculous act.”
Several staff and faculty members told me they fear sanction should they publicly disagree with Falwell; none agreed to be named. But they claimed that Falwell Jr.’s growing political advocacy has been accompanied by a clampdown on speech on Liberty’s campus.
Like Trump, Falwell has taken a number of divisive positions, undeterred by broader disapproval. When Falwell became one of the first major evangelical leaders to endorse Donald Trump for president, one of the school’s longtime donors, Mark Demoss, resigned from Liberty’s board of trustees. Falwell shrugged it off.