With presidential campaigning in full force, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of what heralds itself as the world’s largest Christian university, is defending and cozying up to the lead contender on the Republican ticket, recently recalling to the university newspaper how he and Trump watched an Elton John concert together on the billionaire’s private jet—a man whose sins he dismissed by comparison to God’s appointment of King David.
As previously reported, Falwell has repeatedly sought to assure the American people of the mud-slinging, foul-mouthed candidate’s Christianity, pointing to the candidate’s good deeds as being the “fruit” that Jesus spoke of that characterizes a man who is born again.
“I’ve seen his generosity to strangers, to his employees, his warm relationship with his children,” he said on CNN’s “Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield” last month. “I’m convinced he’s a Christian. I believe he has faith in Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve had conversations with him just within the past few weeks about his faith, and I have no doubts he is a man of faith and he’s a Christian,” Falwell also stated on Fox’s “Hannity.”
“Matthew 7:16 tells us that ‘By your fruits you shall know them.’ Donald Trump’s life has borne fruit,” he told students during Trump’s appearance at Liberty University in January. “Fruit that has provided jobs to multitudes of people, in addition to the many he has helped with his generosity.”
“In my opinion, Mr. Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment,” Falwell declared.
In a recent interview with the Liberty University newspaper, the Liberty Champion, Falwell explained his endorsement of Trump, and recalled the time he spent with the presidential candidate on the campaign trail in Iowa—including on his 757 jet, where the two watched an Elton John concert together.
“He’s got this big living room with this big screen TV. He’s got a master bedroom he showed us,” he remembered. “Then he let my son and his wife actually sit in the cockpit to take off because my son’s a pilot. Then we sat there with him the whole time, just across the table.”
“[W]e ate cheeseburgers. Then he put on a concert,” Falwell said. “He found out that when I grew up in the 70s, I was an Elton John fan. So, he put the concert on the big screen.”
As previously reported, Trump, who states that he personally believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, celebrated Elton John’s “marriage” to his same-sex partner in 2005.
“I know both of them and they get along wonderfully. It’s a marriage that’s going to work,” he wrote on his Trump University blog. “In any event, I’m very happy for them. If two people dig each other, they dig each other. Good luck, Elton. Good luck, David. Have a great life.”
In Falwell’s interview with the university newspaper, he asserted that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about a candidate’s sinful lifestyle as much as the need to “save the country.”
“Jesus said, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged. Let’s stop trying to choose the political leaders who we believe are the most godly because, in reality, only God knows people’s hearts. You and I don’t, and we are all sinners,” Falwell contended.
He acknowledged that some disagree with his endorsement of Trump.
“It is sad to see Christians attacking other Christians because they don’t support the same candidate or the candidate who they believe is the most righteous,” Falwell stated.
He pointed to King David in his reasoning, asserting that God still used him as a leader despite his sin.
“God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer,” Falwell said. “You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief.”
In writing for the National Review on Monday, attorney David French found Falwell’s comparison to be faulty, noting that God punished David for his sin, and the nation suffered as a result.
“To mention King David in the same breath as Donald Trump is to insult our theological intelligence,” he stated. “Yes, David did terrible things—among them, committing adultery and sending his mistress’s husband to die in war—but God imposed terrible punishment—a punishment that cost David his son and ultimately plunged his nation into civil war.”
“And while God forgave David—as He forgives us today—He did not spare David from the cost of disobedience,” French continued. “Ultimately, David’s story is a story of both the awful consequences of sin and God’s mercy in response to true repentance.”
He said that the same will happen if America elects a leader living in open rebellion against God.
“Trump will bring us sin without repentance and consequence without the mercy,” French opined.
“Trump’s evangelical cheerleaders aren’t leading a flock—they’re following the mob,” he declared, expressing dismay at Falwell and others. “And as they follow the mob, they engage in ever-more bizarre theological and intellectual gymnastics to justify the unjustifiable.”