In an interview given to The Washington Post that’s generating backlash, evangelical leader and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. seems to be trying to rewrite the basic tenets of Christianity.
Speaking to the Post’s Joe Helm, Falwell said that evangelicals who reject Trump may be bringing their morality into question.
“It may be immoral for them not to support him because he’s got African American employment to record highs, Hispanic employment to record highs,” Falwell said. “They need to look at what the president did for the poor. A lot of the people who criticized me, because they had a hard time stomaching supporting someone who owned casinos and strip clubs or whatever, a lot them have come around and said, ‘Yeah, you were right.’”
Helm asked Falwell if it’s “hypocritical for evangelical leaders to support a leader who has advocated violence and who has committed adultery and lies often.”
Mitt Romney: faithful husband of 1 wife, dutiful father of 5 kids. Scandal-free political career, successful business career.
Donald Trump: adulterer w/ 3 wives. Multiple scandals and bankruptcies, every aspect of his life is under investigation, employees indicted and convicted.
— Braden Pace (@bradenpace) January 2, 2019
Not at all, Falwell explained.
“I don’t think you can choose a president based on their personal behavior,” Falwell said.
“Because even if you choose the one that you think is the most decent — let’s say you decide Mitt Romney. Nobody could be a more decent human being, better family man,” he continued. “But there might be things that he’s done that we just don’t know about. So you don’t choose a president based on how good they are; you choose a president based on what their policies are.”
“That’s why I don’t think it’s hypocritical.”
Falwell’s willingness to overlook Trump’s moral failings and alleged sexual improprieties is a common theme among evangelical leadership. In January of last year, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said that evangelicals like him are willing to look the other way as long as Trump delivers on policy.
“We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’” Perkins told POLITICO.
Franklin Graham, son of the legendary evangelist Billy Graham, shared a similar sentiment during an appearance on MSNBC that same month. According to Graham, Trump’s alleged sexual failings don’t matter because no one expects him to be “president perfect.”
“Now did he have an affair with this woman? I have no clue, but I believe that 70 years of age, the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, ten years ago or whatever and we just have to give the man the benefit of the doubt,” Graham said.
Featured image via screen grab/Los Angeles Times