Conservative evangelicals are coming to the defense of Jerry Falwell Jr. after the Liberty University Board of Trustees placed him on “indefinite leave.”
Eric Metaxas, a Christian radio talk show host and author who works for Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, recently shared a pro-Falwell Jr. article on his Facebook page.
Now court evangelical Steven Strang, the editor of Charisma, a magazine and website with a huge following in the Pentecostal and charismatic world, has devoted a podcast episode to the Falwell Jr’s removal.
Listen here to the August 14, 2020 episode of The Strang Report.
Strang’s guest is John Wesley Reid, a former Liberty University employee and “writer and strategist” at the Falkirk Center. Reid is the author of a recent Christian Post piece titled “Dear Christians: They world saw Falwell’s sin, will they see your mercy?” In this piece, Reid asks Christians to treat Falwell Jr. fairly and stop reveling in his “sin.” Reid agrees with the Board’s decision to remove Falwell. He also believes that the Instagram photo of Falwell with his pants unzipped, holding a glass of wine, and with his arm around a young women’s waist, was “blown out of proportion.”
But Reid is a bit more nuanced in his conversation with Strang. He says that Falwell was asked to take an indefinite leave of absence “because of the picture and previous things.” Reid does not mention these previous things. He then says, “there’s really been nothing Jerry has done that in itself is super bad…nothing that was terrible, but just a bunch of things here or there….” According to Reid, none of the behavior on this list is “super bad” or “terrible” for the president of a Christian university. I think a lot of Christians would disagree with this claim.
Reid thinks that Falwell Jr. did not post the picture. He thinks it was posted by a member of Falwell Jr.’s staff. He also wants Falwell Jr. to run for Congress.
Strang manages to bring a defense of Trump’s behavior of Stormy Daniels into the conversation. “I believe he [Trump] didn’t do anything [with Daniels],” Strang says.
I like what Reid says about forgiveness and kindness. He is absolutely correct about how the things we do on social media hurt our Christian witness. Yes, Mr. Reid, the “world is watching.” But it is very difficult to listen to a representative of the Falkirk Center lecturing us on these matters. Perhaps next Reid can write an article about the Twitter feeds and public pronunciations of Falkirk fellows Eric Metaxas, Sebastian Gorka, Charlie Kirk, and Jenna Ellis. Or maybe he can do a piece on how the evangelical embrace of Donald Trump has hurt the witness of evangelical Christianity.