‘I’ve Been Concerned’: Top Liberty University Board Member at Odds With Falwell Over Trump Endorsement

DeMoss-compressedA top member of Liberty University’s board of directors is expressing concern over university President Jerry Falwell’s endorsement of Donald Trump, stating that Trump’s behavior does not comport with that of a Christian.

Mark DeMoss, the founder of the Atlanta-based public relations firm DeMoss, serves as the chairman of Liberty University’s executive committee. In speaking with the Washington Post this week, DeMoss stated that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump is a “mistake” as the Republican presidential candidate’s life runs contrary to the values of the school, which heralds itself as the world’s largest Christian university.

“I’ve been concerned for Liberty University for a couple of months now, and I’ve held my tongue,” DeMoss said.

He especially took issue with Trump’s ongoing practice of name-calling and trash-talking those who stand in his way.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss stated. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defense, and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

“I think a lot of what we’ve seen from Donald Trump will prove to be difficult to explain by evangelicals who have backed him,” he also remarked. “Watching last weekend’s escapades about the KKK, I don’t see how an evangelical backer can feel good about that.”

DeMoss said that he was concerned that Falwell compared Trump to his father, the late Jerry Falwell, Sr.

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“It bothered me that he said Donald Trump reminded him of his father,” he stated. “Donald Trump certainly does not demonstrate Jerry Falwell, Sr.’s graciousness and love for people. Jerry Falwell Sr. would never have made fun of a political opponent’s face or makeup or ears. He would not have personally insulted anybody—ever.”

He said that he wished to go public about the matter in order to be a voice for others at Liberty who are concerned about Falwell’s endorsement. DeMoss noted that a former alumni recently mailed back his diploma with a letter over the issue.

“I am a recent graduate of Liberty University,” it read. “I was proud that I finally achieved that goal and I was proud that the accomplishment was from Liberty University. I no longer feel that way. With that being said, I am returning my diploma to the board of trustees.”

Other members of the board include Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, and Jonathan Falwell, who leads Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. told the Washington Post that he was “disappointed” in DeMoss’ statements, which he said he found to be “puzzling.” He said that his endorsement of Trump was not meant to influence others at the university. Liberty staff posted clarification on social media following Falwell’s endorsement, noting that his support for Trump was only his personal view and did not represent Liberty University.

“Any time you support a candidate, and you’re an official at a university, you just have to accept the fact that a large percentage of the community is not going to agree with you,” Falwell said. “I think our community is mature enough that they understand that all the administrators and faculty have their own personal political views.”

He noted that DeMoss had supported Mitt Romney, a Mormon, during the 2012 presidential election, and helped to bring Romney to Liberty University to speak during a commencement service.

As previously reported, Falwell has stated that he does not believe a candidate must be a Christian to be electable, but has repeatedly defended Trump as being a Christian.

“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.”

However, some disagree, stating that the thrice-married, profanity-laden candidate does not bear the fruit of a Christian, and that generosity alone is not the defining mark of being born again.

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