Unlike many incoming students at Liberty University, Kevin Roose didn’t start school merely to learn from his instructors. Instead the Brown student went prepared to dig up material for a book deal he’d already signed to write about his experiences at Jerry Falwell’s Christian school.
He lined up a publisher — Grand Central Publishing — and arrived at the Lynchburg campus prepared for “hostile ideologues who spent all their time plotting abortion clinic protests and sewing Hillary Clinton voodoo dolls.”
Instead, he found that “not only are they not that, but they’re rigorously normal.”
He met students who use Bible class to score dates, apply to top law schools and fret about their futures, and who enjoy gossip, hip-hop and R-rated movies — albeit in a locked dorm room.
A roommate he depicts as aggressively anti-gay — all names are changed in the book — is an outcast on the hall, not a role model.
Yet, some students also grilled him about his relationship with Jesus and condemned non-believers to hell.
After a gunman at Virginia Tech killed 32 people in April 2007, a Liberty student said the deaths paled next to the millions of abortions worldwide — a comment Roose says infuriated him.
The friends Roose made while on the Liberty Campus seem to have forgiven him for his deception, a generous act on their part that was perhaps made easier because the book was not unfair, according to former student body president Brian Colas. Understandably, the Liberty administration is not persuaded.
Happily, Kevin walked away from his time at Liberty with something more meaningful than academic credits or the approval of his instructors:
Once ambivalent about faith, Roose now prays to God regularly — for his own well-being and on behalf of others. He said he owns several translations of the Bible and has recently been rereading meditations from the letters of John on using love and compassion to solve cultural conflicts.
He’s even considering joining a church.