Evangelical leader praises Trump’s business acumen, says poor people don’t give to charity – Chicago Tribune

Jerry Falwell Jr., 56, took over as president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in 2007 following the death of his father, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who founded the school. He lives with his wife, Becki, in Bedford County, Virginia.

Q: You said recently that conservatives and Christians should stop electing gentiles. Aren’t Christians supposed to be Gentiles?

A: Of course, of course. But this is where people get confused. I almost laugh out loud when I hear Democrats say things like “Jesus said little children come to me” and try to use that as a reason why we should open our borders.

It is such a distortion of the teachings of Jesus to say that what he taught us to do personally – love our neighbors as ourselves, help the poor – can somehow be imputed to a nation. Jesus never told Caesar how to run Rome. He went out of his way to say this is the earthly kingdom I’m on the celestial kingdom and I’m here to teach you how to treat others how to help others but when it comes to serving your country , you render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. It is a distortion of the teaching of Christ to say that Jesus taught love and forgiveness and therefore the United States as a nation should be loving and forgiving and simply hand over everything we have to all other parts of the world. This is not what Jesus taught. You almost have to think it’s a theocracy to think that, to think that public policy should be dictated by the teachings of Jesus.

Q: So the government you want is a government without religious association?

A: Yes. The government should be led by someone who will do what is in the best interest of the government and its people. And I believe that’s what Jesus thought too.

Q: In 2016, you wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that voters in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections sent the message that they were “tired of the leftist agenda.” What message did voters in the 2018 midterm elections send?

A: This midterm, the president has done better than the average president in his first half terms. So I think the message is that the American people are happy with where the country is going and happy with the economy, happy with our newfound respect in the world. This is a better result than you normally see in the early mid runs.

Q: You have pushed national leaders to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe Muslims who are terrorists. Should leaders call it “white supremacist terrorism” when we have acts of violence committed by white supremacists in this country?

A: Of course, if a terrorist is someone trying to overthrow a political regime. I guess it depends on your definition of terrorism. Anyone who kills someone else or commits violence against someone else because of their race is horrible. It is as serious as the September 11 attack.

Q: You and other white evangelical leaders have strongly supported President Donald Trump. What is it about him that exemplifies Christianity and earns it your support?

A: What earns him my support is his business acumen. Our country was so indebted and so mismanaged by career politicians that we needed someone who was not a career politician, but someone successful in business to run the country like a business. That’s why I supported him.

Q: The deficit and debt increased in its first two years.

A: Yes, Congress, the spending bill that they forced on him to get military spending to where it needed to be – he said that would be the last time he would sign one. But he had no choice because (President Barack) Obama had decimated the army and it had to be rebuilt.

Q: Is there anything President Trump might do that would jeopardize your support or that of other evangelical leaders?

A: No.

Q: This is the shortest answer we’ve had so far.

A: Only because I know he only wants the best for this country, and I know that whatever he does 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.

Q: Is it hypocritical for evangelical leaders to support a leader who has advocated violence and committed adultery and often lies? I understand that a person can have their sins forgiven, but should that person lead the country?

A: When Jesus said we were all sinners, he really meant all of us, everyone. I don’t think you can pick a president based on his personal behavior, because even if you pick the one you think is the most decent, let’s say you pick Mitt Romney. No one could be a more decent human being, a better family man. But there may be things he did that we don’t know about. So you don’t choose a president based on his quality; you pick a president based on his policies. That’s why I don’t think it’s hypocritical.

There are two kingdoms. There is the terrestrial kingdom and the celestial kingdom. In the celestial kingdom, the responsibility is to treat others as you would like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what is best for your country. Think about it. Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It’s because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A pauper never gave charity to anyone, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.

Q: You have been criticized by other evangelical leaders for your support for the president. They say you must demand higher moral and ethical standards. You do not agree with them on this?

A: It may be immoral for them not to support him because he has African American jobs at all time highs, Hispanic jobs at all time highs. They need to look at what the president has done for the poor. A lot of people who criticized me, because they had a hard time putting up with somebody who owned casinos and strip clubs or whatever, a lot of people came up and said, “Yeah, you were right.” Some of the most prominent evangelicals in the country have said, “Jerry, we thought you were crazy, but now we understand.

First published in The Washington Post

Barry F. Howard