Jerry Falwell Jr. is still riding the Trump Train. This time he has turned to the op-ed pages of The Washington Post to make his case for the GOP nominee. The talking points are the same. Falwell Jr. chides Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party for their missteps, but he does not make a positive case for his candidate apart from the dubious historical analogy that Trump is the next Winston Churchill. He warns that if we don’t vote for Trump we will all suffer “dire consequences.”
I am not sure what Falwell Jr. thinks he is doing. Does he think that his endorsement of Donald Trump is going to help make Liberty University the world-class evangelical institution that he and his father, Jerry Falwell Sr., envisioned? I know, I know, he claims that his endorsement of Trump is personal and he is not making it on behalf of Liberty University. That’s all well and good on paper, but I doubt most Americans grasp the subtle distinction. In the past six months I have talked with three parents who said that their kids chose another school partially based on Falwell Jr.’s support of Trump. Two of them were the parents of high school seniors and the other one was the parent of a student who is transferring to another college this Fall. Three parents hardly make a movement. Perhaps these three parents are not representative of most Liberty parents. Or perhaps they are more representative of the kinds of evangelicals with whom I engage in political conversation. But all three of them were troubled by Falwell’s endorsement and the politicization of evangelical faith taking place on the Liberty campus.