Updated: Jun 24, 2022
Evangelicals—at least, we white ones—are having a hard time in the public eye these days. Perhaps you’ve noticed.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University in Virginia, hasn’t helped things. His support for Donald Trump was early and has remained strong to this day. How strong?
A recent interview by The Washington Post quotes Falwell not as reluctantly voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton, nor as supporting Trump because his policies, on the whole, more closely accord with Biblical values than do the alternatives. Here’s an astonishing clip from that interview that shows just how deep runs Falwell’s devotion:
Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?
That’s the shortest answer we’ve had so far.
Only because I know that he only wants what’s best for this country, and I know anything he does, it may not be ideologically “conservative,” but it’s going to be what’s best for this country, and I can’t imagine him doing anything that’s not good for the country.
The bigger issue here is not Jerry Falwell, Jr., but that statements such as these keep enabling people to denounce white evangelicals—whether in national media, in social media debates, or around the dinner table at Thanksgiving or Christmas—as uncritical stooges of a wildly immoral president.
Christian theology is clear that each of us is a sinner and is capable of big sins, not just occasional little ones. Christian theology is clear that each of us is so sinful, in fact, that we need a Saviour, not just an Instructor or an Example. That’s the “Old-Time Gospel” Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s father would preach and presumably what Jerry Falwell, Jr. would say he believes.
—Except, however, when it comes to President Trump? How is it that Donald Trump is somehow elevated above the common lot and infallibly going to do what’s good for the United States?