Liberty University (see team prayer in photo) pulled off a huge upset Friday in the NCAA Tournament, enraging the school's anti-Christian critics at Deadspin blog all the more about the Flames' presence in the "Big Dance." Earlier in the week, Deadspin's podcast selected Liberty as the "most hatable" team in the tourney, and now writer Laura Wagner is praying for the retrograde ultra-right-wing bigots masquerading as Christians to lose their second-round game against Virginia Tech Sunday.
Wagner writes, "Jerry Falwell Jr.’s infamously strict and alarmingly retrograde university won its first game ever in the NCAA tournament ever and I, for one, am praying to the Lord God in heaven that it never happens again."
Nothing against the players, Wagner insists, "but if Liberty—the ultra-right-wing Christian university that has staunchly supported Donald Trump (drawing ire from some of its own students), and whose legally questionable anti-gay, anti-transgender policies prohibit 'sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman'—becomes the tournament’s much-hyped Cinderella team, I’m going to have to learn some satanic rituals."
Wagner has some notion of what Christianity is, and Liberty is not practicing it:
"Liberty University is a den of bigotry masquerading as Christianity, and I’m dreading the scenario in which they go on an inspiring NCAA tournament run, thereby bringing them heaps of breathless coverage on a national scale. Dear God, I pray that Liberty lose to Virginia Tech on Sunday night."
As she stated, Wagner has nothing against the players on the Liberty basketball team (she admits Caleb Homesley is pretty fun to watch). Her attack is mainly aimed at Liberty's Bible-based faith and its politics (read, it's too Trumpian). Seeking to sling even more mud on Liberty, she attacks the football program, too.
Liberty's right-wing alliance and upsetting insistence on policing LGBTQ human beings disgusts Wagner, and the school also hired disgraced individuals to "mold young men into the shape of Christ or whatever." Last year, Liberty hired football coach Hugh Freeze, the former Ole Miss coach who resigned "after he was caught being incredibly horny and hiring escorts during football recruiting trips. (Wonder what Liberty’s student handbook says about hiring escorts??)."
Ian McCaw, who resigned as the athletic director at Baylor University when football coach Art Briles got fired for failing to stop and report rapes by his players, is now Liberty's AD. He hasn't violated any NCAA rules at Liberty, and Baylor's football scandal has nothing to do with Liberty's basketball program.
Wagner singling out Liberty, a private school which isn't on probation for NCAA violations, for criticism also comes during a time when college basketball has been rocked by a huge scandal. LSU is in this tournament and has been implicated in that scandal. The Tigers have advanced to the second round, though head coach Will Wade was suspended after a wiretap caught him discussing potential payments to a player LSU were recruiting. Wagner takes no issue in this post with LSU, a public school in the tourney which is not bigoted like the Liberty Christians.
Deadspin launched its first attack on Liberty during a podcast three days ago. Drew Magary and David Roth and guest Gabe Fernandez selected Liberty as the school they hate the most in the 64-team field. They agreed that the "evangelical base of Trump’s election, Liberty University" makes it the "most repelling program in this tournament."