In a strange twist to the ongoing story concerning the alleged sale of child porn by Barnes & Noble, the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University has been accused of selling child pornography. Some Christian leaders are calling for FaIwell to repent.
The charges were brought by Jeff White, a leader in the radical antiabortion group, Operation Rescue. Under the guise of a name apparently devised for the occasion, Operation Restore Liberty, White held a press conference at the front entrance of Liberty University to call Falwell to account "for allowing child pornography to be sold on the campus of Liberty University."
A press release from the group stated, "The event is being sponsored by leaders from Operation Restore Liberty who are in Lynchburg to speak out against the jailing of pro-life leader Rev. Flip Benham, who is now serving a six-month sentence for his participation in a peaceful distribution of Christian literature at E.C. Glass High School.
"Leaders of Operation Restore Liberty discovered that Barnes & Noble recently purchased the Liberty University campus bookstore. Barnes & Noble has been the recent target of hundreds of peaceful demonstrations around the country for their selling of child pornography. In spite of the detailed warning by Rev. Benham, Liberty still sold the campus bookstore to Barnes & Noble because, in the words of Dr. Falwell, 'They were the highest bidder.'
"Earlier this week, a member of Operation Restore Liberty purchased Age of Innocence by David Hamilton at the campus bookstore. This is one of the books included in the Alabama child pornography indictment. [See Freedom Writer, September/October 1997.] Operation Restore Liberty purchased the book in order to turn it over to city and state officials for prosecution.
"It is a sad commentary that Dr. Falwell would not condemn child pornographers. In fact, he invited them onto his Liberty University campus. Yet, he has condemned Rev. Flip Benham for preaching the gospel at E.C. Glass High School. We ask Dr. Falwell to seek God and repent for this horrible injustice."
Liberty University spokesman Mark DeMoss said the pornography charge is intended to embarrass Falwell. "Their actions are disingenuous," he said. "I'd hope that Operation Rescue could somehow determine what its mission is and focus on that."
Operation Rescue founder, Randall Terry, who is running for a US congressional seat in upstate New York, started the campaign against Barnes & Noble last year. He alleged that the works of naturist photographer Jock Sturges contained child porn. As a result of Terry's campaign, many of his followers have invaded Barnes & Noble bookstores to tear pages out of Sturges's books.