A group of 35 black alumni from Liberty University has issued a letter to President Jerry Falwell Jr criticising him for the "inappropriate statements" he has made over recent years.
The signatories of the letter added that Falwell's remarks, which are often divisive and unpleasant, “hurt the ability of Liberty alumni to obtain jobs and have a voice in the culture.”
They wrote: “For several years, you have said and defended inappropriate statements that represent Liberty and our faith very poorly. You have belittled staff, students and parents, you have defended inappropriate behaviours of politicians, encouraged violence, and disrespected people of other faiths.”
Recently, Falwell announced on Twitter that he had designed his own facemask, emblazoned with a picture of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam wearing blackface. Falwell has repeatedly refused to wear a mask after Gov. Northam announced a statewide requirement for people to wear the piece of personal protective equipment when they are in public indoor settings.
The group urged Falwell to “stop this infantile behavior."
They added: "While your tweet may have been in jest about Virginia’s Governor, it made light of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism.”
“Because of your callous rhetoric, we can no longer in good faith encourage students to attend our alma mater or accept athletic scholarships.
"We will no longer donate funds to the university. We will also actively encourage Christian leaders to decline the invitation to speak at Liberty if you continue to insist on making unChristlike and inappropriate statements that are misrepresentative of Biblical Christianity.”
Falwell, a long-time supporter of Donald Trump, has also hit out at fellow Christian leaders in the past. Last year, Falwell lambasted Dr. Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, for speaking out against the poor conditions in which migrant children were being held on the US border. "The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences," Moore had tweeted. "Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this."
Falwell replied: "Who are you @drmoore ? Have you ever made a payroll? Have you ever built an organisation of any type from scratch? What gives you authority to speak on any issue? I’m being serious. You’re nothing but an employee - a bureaucrat."
During his presidential campaign, Trump also hit out at Dr Moore, who is known for speaking out boldly on a variety of hot-button issues.
"Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for," Trump tweeted in May 2016. "A nasty guy with no heart!"