One of the things that struck me when I spoke to students who had attended Liberty a cycle or two earlier than me (so, say 1980 or 1984 graduates) was how different the school had been just a few years earlier. Jerry had just been easing into his Moral Majority persona, and he had started by traveling with Doug Oldham and a polyester-clad singing group that I think were called the I Love America singers or the I Love America Chorale or something like that. They sounded like the New Christy Minstrels, more or less, but without the drug references.
At this point Jerry was already starting to leave his fundamentalist roots, partly because Fundamentalists are by definition separatist and incapable of making common cause on political issues, and partly because Fundamentalist churches were typically pretty hardcore “no slacks, tracks, or blacks” places, meaning that the music had to be piano and organ (no taped backing tracks, especially with drums or guitars), women had to wear dresses or at least skirts, and of course the churches tended to be all-white, give or take the occasional Asian war bride.
Liberty took most of its cues from the schools that had produced much of its faculty and leadership: Bob Jones University, Tennessee Temple University, and Cedarville College (now Cedarville University): places with pretty lean authority structures and definite cultural markers. I have heard stories, for example, that as late as the early Eighties the guard shack at the main point of entry to the Liberty campus wasn’t just manned, but guards would actually stop the occasional car and check it for denim. Not drugs or alcohol or copies of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, but jeans and jean jackets.
By the time I arrived in the fall of 1985 the guard shack was still manned, but the guards mostly checked for freshmen out after freshmen curfew.