Normally, Liberty University is one of those bizarre/annoying things you can just forget exists, like Branson, Missouri or the band Smashmouth, but not this weekend. Nope, this weekend, centrist and totally rational Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be addressing the hyper conservative evangelical university as the school's commencement speaker, which is actually a great excuse to examine the totally wacky world of the school's honor code.
Right Wing Watch is publishing snippets of Liberty University's code of conduct The Liberty Way this week, and today they finally got to the sexy stuff — the Guide to Female Modesty and the Reprimands and Punishments chapter. Mmmm, it's like hot wax on the nipples of sin!
Women of Liberty know what they're getting into when they enroll, but lest they forget how to be Good Christian Ladies and feel themselves veering into slutbaggery, The Liberty Way has some great helpful tips. Ladies should always be mindful of modesty in all environments. Two-piece swimsuits are prohibited, and for some reason, the folks in Lynchburg are awfully paranoid about exposed midriffs and sheer paneling on low-cut spaghetti strap clothing. Per the Way,
Dresses and skirts should be no shorter than the top of the knee (sitting or standing). Skirt slits should be modest; open slits should be no higher than the top of the knee, closed slits should be no higher than two inches from the top of the knee. Shoulder straps should be no less than two inches wide. Anything tight, scant, backless, see-through, low in the neckline or revealing the midriff (in any position) is immodest and unacceptable.
It would be very difficult to throw a party where everyone dresses like they're going clubbing in 1995 on campus at Liberty University. Or wearing an Earring Fun Ken Halloween costume.
Further, women aren't allowed to wear jeans "of any color" to class, presumably because every conservative organization I've interacted with or been a part of has a weird fixation on keeping people out of jeans. (This is a total tangent, but— what the hell — it's Friday: when I was in high school, I was very involved in an organization that used to be called the Future Homemakers of America, which was mostly run by women that wanted to be feminists but didn't know how to be because they were too reverent, so they were ultra-ambitious Phyllis Schlafly types with impeccable hair and wardrobes from the late 1970's. Of the dozens of conferences and meetings of the organization I attended, not once did the RULES OF CONDUCT booklet not lede with a big, bold THERE WILL BE NO WEARING OF JEANS!!! rule. I never figured out why my crappy khaki carpenter pants were somehow preferable to a neat pair of dark denim pants.)
Curiously, another rule alludes to a strict prohibition of clothing and signifiers of the "counter-culture," so no nose rings or eyebrow rings or big Janis Joplin glasses. According to the Way, these rules exist to promote a "Christ-like" environment, because nothing says Jerusalem circa the year 0 like a strict "no hippies" policy.
But the best part of The Liberty Way is when the University spells out what sort of activities can get you in what sort of trouble. The system's set up so that students are issued "reprimands" for certain misbehaviors. The lightest punishment involves but a single reprimand and is given for offenses like missing curfew. Moderately Satan-y offenses like watching R-rated movies on or off campus can net students 12 reprimands and a $50 fine. But the big kahunas of vice get students 30 reprimands, a $500 fine, 30 community service hours, and possible expulsion. Some of these offenses — like rape, stealing, or a felony conviction — seem like no-brainers. But others are a little bit goofier. For example, having an abortion? Exactly the same as raping someone, in the eyes of the Liberty U administration. Abortion's also just as bad as alcohol drinking, which is just as bad as getting caught performing witchcraft. Also identical crimes to rape, abortion, being a witch? Two people of the opposite sex together in a hotel room, or spending a night with a member of the opposite sex. There's apparently no gay people at Liberty.
So when Mitt Romney speaks at Liberty tomorrow, let's hope for his sake that he doesn't show up wearing a strappy/sheer midriff-bearing Ouija board dress. That would be embarrassing.