The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump, Falwell, and the Failure of Character — in One Picture

This pitiful picture is making the rounds:

Most critics are remarking on the sad sight of a Christian leader giving Trump the “thumb’s up” right next to a framed picture of Trump on the cover of Playboy. And, yes, that’s not only bad on its own terms, it demonstrates as clearly as anything else that Trump is not a repentant sinner (like King David) but rather proud and defiant.

But beyond the Playboy cover, it’s also pitiful to see a Christian leader pose in front of a politician’s temple to himself. These “me walls” are sadly common in law, business, and politics. They’re ways in which men and women declare to visitors that they are somebody. It’s the framed version of the infamous declaration, “Don’t you know who I am?” I’ve seen it so much that I have an informal rule — the size of the “me wall” is often inversely proportionate to the character of the man.

And how did Falwell respond?  By self-righteously tweeting, “Honored for same hypocrites who accused Jesus of being a friend of publicans and sinners to be targeting me over a decades old mag cover!” 

Hilarious. Is Falwell actually contending that his role in Trump’s life is the same as the role of a Christian seeking to save the lost? No, he’s honoring Trump as he is and exalting him as he his. As for the decades-old nonsense, that picture is proudly on his wall now. It represents not a chapter of life that Trump regrets, but an episode he promotes.

Here we are. The representatives of a church that teaches denial of self as a core virtue are now helping a man celebrate the self. A representative of a church that teaches that sex is reserved for a covenant marriage between a man and a woman is grinning next to a proudly-displayed porn magazine. Could even Hillary humiliate him more?

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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