Liberty University in the #AgeofTrump


During the GOP presidential primary and caucus season Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump.  There were plenty of candidates running for the GOP nomination who fit much better with the conservative evangelical identity of a place like Liberty University.  I am thinking here of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and perhaps even John Kasich.

Yet Falwell Jr. supported Trump.

What is perhaps most interesting about Falwell Jr.’s support of Trump was that it did not seem to be rooted in any kind of Christian political philosophy.  It seems that the main reason he supported Trump was because he was a good businessman and wanted to make America great again.

Unlike James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and other evangelicals who endorsed Trump because he would appoint the kind of Supreme Court justices that would deliver on longstanding Christian Right social issues, Falwell Jr. rarely framed his support around abortion or marriage. When Robert Jeffress was making a tortured biblical argument about the proper role of government, Falwell Jr. was talking about Trump’s leadership skills.

Granted, Falwell Jr. is not a theologian.  But he is the president of the largest Christian university in the world.  He could at least articulate a basic theological argument for why he thinks voting for Trump is the evangelical thing to do.  I am not asking that it be a good theological argument, but at least show his followers that he is making some effort to think Christianly about the election.

And now we come to Falwell’s recent decision to appoint disgraced former Baylor University athletic director Ian McCaw as the new Liberty University athletic director.  (We wrote about this earlier in the week, so I will not go into details.  Read more about it here). The New York Times has taken note of all of this in a story titled “At Liberty University, All Sins Are Forgiven on the Altar of Greed.”

Here is a taste:

The hiring of McCaw has also proved contentious. As the university’s Facebook page filled up with angry comments, Falwell felt compelled to offer explanations on the university’s website. He said Liberty had conducted an “investigation.” It found that McCaw was a fine man. Far from being pushed out of Baylor, Falwell said, McCaw’s “decision to resign was his own choice.”

“If he made any mistakes at Baylor,” Falwell said — let us pause here to appreciate his use of the conditional — “they appear to be technical and unintentional.” There is not an athletic director in America, Falwell added, who better understands the importance of complying with federal guidelines on reporting any sexual assault on a campus.

And thus tin is transmuted into gold.

Read the entire piece here.  The title of the Times piece really says it all.