LYNCHBURG, Va. — Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, which touts itself as the world’s largest Christian university, wrote a letter on Tuesday to a Republican congressman who recently received a no confidence vote from a local GOP committee after he “happily” officiated a same-sex “wedding.” Falwell, also seeing that some leaders of the Republican Party within the district were backing away from Rep. Denver Riggleman, asserted that it is wrong for the congressman to be excluded over “social issues.” He advised that he plans to endorse Riggleman for reelection as he believes the party needs to be a “big tent” and unite.
“It is my understanding that certain leaders of the Republican Party in the 5th District are attempting to exclude you and others because of social issues,” Falwell wrote. “I was told that they are assuming that because you officiated at a gay marriage recently, that you are not socially conservative.”
“I believe that excluding other conservatives over issues that have already been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court does nothing but help the liberals gain more power,” he opined. “There is nothing that anyone in the House of Delegates or the Virginia Senate can do to change the law on gay marriage or abortion until the U.S. Supreme Court reverses its previous positions.”
Falwell asserted that his logic is “common sense,” and that if Republicans do not unite and think pragmatically, the liberals will win. He said that he wants to see Republicans retain control of the House of Delegates and the state Senate in November.
“I hope that the less pragmatic members of the party will wake up and realize that, in the words of Ben Franklin, ‘We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately,'” Falwell wrote. “I intend to endorse you in your bid for reelection in 2020 in light of your liberty-minded conservatism and our shared values.”
He also expressed the hope that he would see Riggleman at an upcoming fundraiser, which will also be attended by Robert Hurt, the executive director of Liberty University’s Center for Law and Government. Riggleman had been invited to Liberty University in March by student groups such as Young Americans for Liberty, College Republicans and Students at Liberty for Gun Rights.
Reports outline that on July 14, Riggleman officiated the “wedding” of campaign volunteers Alex Pisciarino and Anthony LeCounte, and expressed that he was “proud” to do so.
“My real belief is that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all, but if it is, everybody has to be treated equally before the law,” the congressman told the Washington Post. “And that is part of our Republican creed. And it also comes down to love is love. I’m happy to join two people together who obviously love each other.”
However, Riggleman also opposes the proposed Equality Act because of concerns about infringing parental rights, and he believes that the matter of transgenders serving the military needs additional study.
Because of his participation the ceremony, Wendell Johnson of the Fifth Congressional District Republican Committee presented a motion to formally rebuke Riggleman.
“I move that the committee censure Denver Riggleman for failing to uphold the Republican Party platform, [which] states ‘marriage is between one man and one woman,'” he said, according to Newsweek.
While his initial effort was not successful, member Diana Shore put forward a vote of no confidence with the Cumberland County Republican Committee, which she chairs. It passed unanimously.
“I make this motion of no confidence in Congressman Denver Riggleman for his recent act in officiating a homosexual marriage and his lack of support for stronger border security and immigration policies,” it read.
Riggleman’s campaign responded to the vote by stating that the congressman was happy to officiate “and he is proud of these two young people who found their life partner.”
As previously reported, Falwell has been an ardent supporter of President Trump, repeatedly asserting throughout Trump’s presidential campaign that the then-candidate bears the fruit of one being born again because of his characteristic good deeds.
“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” in February 2016. “I’m convinced he’s a Christian. I believe he has faith in Jesus Christ.”
Falwell asserted that those who expressed concerns about Trump’s behavior were violating the “judge not” clause in Matthew 7:1.
“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,” he said in an interview with the Liberty University newspaper that same year.
He also told the Washington Post earlier this year that he doesn’t believe that the teachings of Christ were meant to be used for public policy, but that the government should rather be “free of religious association.”
“Jesus never told Caesar how to run Rome,” Falwell told the Washington Post. “He went out of His way to say that’s the earthly kingdom, I’m about the heavenly 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 unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”
“You almost have to believe that this is a theocracy to think that way — to think that public policy should be dictated by the teachings of Jesus.”
In 2014, concerns were raised after Liberty University university minimized objections to the utilization of a homosexual advocate to teach students choreography in its presentation of “Mary Poppins.” Many also expressed disagreement when Brandon Ambrosino, a Liberty student who came out as an open homosexual on campus, was allowed to enroll as a graduate student in Liberty’s seminary program.