The Corner

Politics & Policy

On Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Endorsement Mistake

Jerry Falwell Jr. is one of America’s most valuable Evangelical leaders. At a time when even Christian colleges are systematically capitulating to the “social justice” Left, Falwell has built Liberty University — founded by his father — into a towering rebuke of progressive academic thought. Educating 14,000 students on campus and approximately 100,000 online, it stands as an enduring legacy of his family’s faithfulness. Close friends are Liberty graduates. Friends teach at Liberty. Their kids attend Liberty. The university stands as one of America’s most important cultural and spiritual institutions.

So it is indeed unfortunate to see that Falwell has endorsed Donald Trump. He is asking his admirers to make an enormous gamble that a man who has long stood against life, who’s shown little interest in religious liberty, and is even a recent convert to his core immigration platform is not just an acceptable choice for Christians but the single best choice for Evangelical voters in 2016. Perhaps if the rest of the field featured men and women who’d proven to be weak and faithless and matters of life and religious liberty, the endorsement would be more understandable. But this field features, for example, two of the Senate’s most stalwart defenders of the unborn and the persecuted church. Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, moreover, have proven to be articulate defenders of the Christian faith. Trump, by contrast, seems only to dimly understand Christian theology and practice. And while I understand that there are evangelicals — like many other voters — who have deep concerns about immigration, Trump has been no more consistent in his views than Rubio and less consistent than Cruz. 

As I said when discussing Sarah Palin’s Trump support, every decision to support a candidate involves a leap of faith. It is every voter’s duty to do the due diligence to make that leap as short as possible — to study the politician’s positions, character, and disposition to determine if they’re worthy of your trust. Endorsements matter because they often shortcut that process. We tend to impute our trust for the endorser to the candidate they’ve endorsed. Christians have many good reasons to trust Falwell’s character and judgment. Sadly, this endorsement is not one of them. A good man has a made a serious mistake.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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