The Unlikely Disciple

The Unlikely Disciple

A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

Book - 2009
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Baker & Taylor
Recounts the author's semester investigating Liberty University, the late Jerry Falwell's fundamentalist evangelical training college, describing how he and his classmates were instructed in the ways of strict biblical literalism.

Hachette Book Group

No drinking.
No smoking.

No cursing.
No dancing.
No R-rated movies.

Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.

Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.

His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.

Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.

& Taylor

Recounts the author's semester investigating Liberty University, the late Jerry Falwell's fundamentalist evangelical training college; in an account that describes how he and his classmates were instructed in the ways of strict biblical literalism, given absolute doctrines on how to conduct themselves, and counseled to covert Daytona Beach heathens.

Publisher: New York : Grand Central Pub., 2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780446178426
Branch Call Number: 378.755 R676u
Characteristics: 324 p. ; 24 cm


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Jun 20, 2015

This was an incredible book written by a 19 year old college student who took a semester off from Brown University to immerse himself in the experience of Liberty University, a conservative Christian evangelical college. Roose keeps his writer identity a secret and builds personal relationships with his new fellow classmates and roommates. And although he doesn't necessarily agree with the "Liberty" way, I believe he is very real and objective in analyzing and expressing his opinions. His experiences reveal a college atmosphere that is very different from secular schools; where curfews, drinking, dancing, and sexual contact are prohibited and every word of the holy bible is fact. Although there are certain things that are certainly disturbing in the eyes of the author, he does an amazing job humanizing the students, staff, faculty, and most importantly, the Pastor and founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell. I highly recommend this book. It's an easy, entertaining, and informative book. The premise of Kevin Roose's observations in my opinion is captured in the second paragraph of page

"It's not that there aren't smart people here. In fact, with very few exceptions, I've been impressed by how bright and intellectually engaged my Liberty friends are. The problem is in the system. Liberty is a place where professors aren't allowed to take chances with their course material. It's a place where academic rigor is sacrificed on the altar of uninterrupted piety, where the skills of exploration, deconstruction, and doubt-all of which should be present at an institution that bills itself as a liberal arts college-are systematically silenced in favor of presenting a clear, unambiguous political and spiritual agenda"

Dec 17, 2014

Excellent memoir of a year spent at Liberty University, written by an open-minded liberal who wants to explore the culture of religious fundamentalism. Roose writes with humor, sensitivity, and honesty and isn't out to attack anyone, but simply to understand, and he ends up learning about himself as well as his subject.

rebekahjtowers Apr 09, 2013

Thoroughly readable; at times hilarious and at many other times, quite poignant. Roose appears to be very open-minded, despite hailing from the ultra-liberal Brown U. to conduct this clandestine live-in experiment at Liberty. He finds more in common with his new fellow students than he'd anticipated. It could've used a bit of editing as it drags in some areas, but we editors almost always say that.

crankylibrarian Sep 19, 2011

The true account of Kevin Roose—a 19-year old college student from secular Brown University—who spends a semester at Jerry Fallwell’s ultra-conservative Liberty University after a chance encounter with a group of Liberty students. How will Liberty change his views towards Christian fundamentalists? Will his liberal views be swayed towards conservatism? Will he undergo a spiritual conversion? Kevin’s experience at Liberty culminates in a rare interview with Jerry Fallwell for the schools’ newspaper—just days before Fallwell dies of a heart attack.

LocketLibrarian May 20, 2011

What I loved most about this book is that the author went into this experiment expect to have a certain reaction, and yet he came out with new views. One of my favorite non-fiction in a while.


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