Liberty University board member and evangelical firebrand Jerry Falwell Jr.'s fall from grace amid a decidedly un-Christian sex and extortion scandal has taken on even more heat in the wake of his resignation.
In his announcement that he was stepping down from his position, Falwell used Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous quote, taken from his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech about civil rights and racial violence against Black people, to describe his feelings of relief about the end of his sex scandal.
According to Richard Chumney, a reporter for the Lynchburg, Virginia newspaper The News & Advance, Falwell Jr. said of his departure from Liberty University:
"The quote that keeps going through my mind this morning is Martin Luther King Jr: 'free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last."
Falwell Jr.'s fall from grace began with a photo he posted to Instagram two weeks ago in which he is posed holding a glass of wine with his arm around a woman who is not his wife and both of their pants unzipped.
Like his father before him, Falwell Jr., a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, has railed against what he considers sexual immorality for years, including opposing same-sex marriage.
Many saw the photo he posted as bordering on adulterous, and running counter to Liberty University's strict code of conduct for its students, which prohibits alcohol and even the consumption of sexual content in media, let alone sexual activity itself. This resulted in him being placed on indefinite leave from his position at the university.
Things escalated dramatically this week when Giancarlo Granda, a former business associate of Falwell Jr.'s, told Reuters the had a six-year sexual relationship with Falwell and his wife, Becki, in which Granda, who was 20 at the time the relationship began, would have sex with Becki while Falwell Jr. watched. Falwell Jr. denies the allegations.
On Twitter, people were in disbelief that Falwell Jr. would have the audacity to use MLK's words in reference to something so sordid.
Falwell Jr. is the son of deceased evangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., infamous for his far-right political activity such as opposing the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa, blaming the September 11 attacks on LGBTQ people, and organizing the so-called Moral Majority that helped elect president Ronald Reagan. He founded Liberty University in 1971.