I know, I know.
The headline seems like clickbait.
But I promise it’s not.
Jerry Falwell Jr. granted an interview to The Washington Post today in which, to their credit, they ask him some pretty direct questions about his support for Donald Trump in light of his claims to also be a Christian.
To be fair, once upon a time I tried to offer a Christian defense of Donald Trump too, but, well, Falwell had a few more words to say than I did.
Obviously any attempt to defend Donald Trump from a Christian perspective is inherently going to be bonkers because Trump is – in the very literal sense of the word – anti-Christ in countless ways, but Falwell forges on anyway and what he has to say is, frankly, breathtaking in its delusion and idolatry.
Falwell’s defense begins with the sort of moral relativism that has become common place among conservative, Trump-loving Christians who suddenly and selectively believe that their religious convictions shouldn’t carry over to their political beliefs.
“It’s such a distortion of the teachings of Jesus to say that what he taught us to do personally — to love our neighbors as ourselves, help the poor — can somehow be imputed on a nation.”
Ironically, this is the very sort of moral relativism from the very same people who once fervently warned me about the threat of liberals and their moral relativism.
But Falwell doesn’t stop there.
He’s gotta take thing up a notch because I think somewhere deep down in the dark recesses of his mind he knows what he is saying is absurd. So he just leans into the absurd and hopes nobody will remember that Jesus said literally the opposite of what Falwell claims Jesus said.
Here’s Jerry’s version of what Jesus said….
“[Jesus] 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.”
And here’s what Jesus himself actually said….
“Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
It’s a pretty bold strategy to claim something so quickly and easily disproven by literally anyone who ever attended Sunday School, but Falwell was just getting warmed up.
If you’re going to live in an alternate reality, you’ve gotta put down roots. You can’t just vacation. And Jerry proved beyond any doubt he doesn’t have a timeshare in Trumpland. He’s a permanent and proud resident who’s brought his own version of the Bible…
“The government should be led by somebody who is going to do what’s in the best interest of the government and its people. And I believe that’s what Jesus thought, too.”
And, of course, his own alternative facts….
And my personal favorite….
“This midterm, the president did better than the average president does in his first midterms. So I think the message is that the American people are happy with the direction the country is headed…”
“What earns him my support is his business acumen. Our country was so deep in debt and so mismanaged by career politicians that we needed someone who was not a career politician, but someone who’d been successful in business to run the country like a business. That’s the reason I supported him.”
Quick reminder: Donald Trump has declared bankruptcy SIX TIMES and the only reason he has any wealth at all is because he inherited from his father through shady and often illegal tax schemes.
Speaking of money, Jesus once warned, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Jerry took that as an invitation to pick a new master.
Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?
Shocked by the short answer, the interviewer offered Falwell a chance to elaborate and he shared what I can only assume is the mantra recited at every Cult 45 service…
“I know that he only wants what’s best for this country, and I know anything he does, it 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.”
As a faithful conservative, Falwell made sure he also didn’t miss the chance to take a jab at the poor…
“A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.”
Unfortunately for Falwell, what is “common sense” to him, doesn’t make such great sense to Jesus…
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4
But Jerry doesn’t have time for that nonsense.
A new savior has arrived, and according to Jerry, he deserves our allegiance. In fact, it would be practically immoral if we didn’t cast down our cloaks before him.
“It may be immoral for [evangelicals] not to support him, because he’s got African American employment to record highs, Hispanic employment to record highs. They need to look at what the president did for the poor.”
It’s almost as if Jerry Falwell Jr. has never read the Bible before.
But that couldn’t be true…could it?
Look, I know none of this interview is particularly revelatory or breaking new ground. We all knew Jerry Falwell Jr. was head over heels in idolatrous love with Donald Trump, but when you see it all in one place, it’s truly breathtaking.
Especially when you remember Jerry’s not alone.
He’s just saying what 81% of white evangelicals already believe.