Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. attends a town hall meeting on the opioid crisis as part of First Lady Melania, the First Lady's "Be Best" initiative at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on March 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images
Jerry Falwell Jr. announced Friday that he is taking indefinite leave of absence from his leadership positions at Liberty University, the school his father founded in 1971.
The institution said in a statement that its executive committee has requested to resign from his role as president and chancellor indefinitely. The school said it agreed to "take effect immediately".
The move follows his recent controversy – a photo he posted on his Instagram from a vacation where his shirt was up and he was holding a glass of dark liquid. The picture showed him next to a woman and his pants appeared to be undone.
He deleted the post and apologized.
Speaking to WLNI talk radio in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the university is located, Falwell said the woman in the photo was pregnant and the jeans he was wearing did not fit, resulting in an uncomfortable image.
"I was wearing jeans that I hadn't worn in a long time, so I couldn't zip up, either," he said. "I just stretched my stomach out like hers."
However, he apologized for embarrassing the woman in the photo by making it public. He only identified her as his wife's assistant. "I apologized to everyone," Falwell told the station.
US Representative Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, a former Liberty instructor, said on Twitter Thursday that Falwell's "persistent behavior" was "appalling."
"I am convinced Falwell should resign," he said.
On Friday, he applauded the university for making "the right call" to ask Falwell for a vacation. "Freedom is such an important institution for our nation, our next generation of leaders and beliefs," said the congressman on Twitter.
The university's statement did not address the matter directly. Falwell also had to apologize in June for posting a photo of someone in black on Twitter.
In May, Reuters reported that Falwell had once enlisted the help of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, to destroy private photos he refused to reveal to the world.
Liberty University is one of the world's largest evangelical Christian institutions.