“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”1 Timothy 6:10
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”Mark 10: 17 – 21
By now, many of us have seen the very risqué picture that Jerry Falwell Jr. posted on social media. He’s with a young woman who has her pants unzipped and pulled far down her abdomen. For his part, Falwell also has his pants unzipped and pulled far down his abdomen, plus he’s holding a black drink, assumed alcoholic.
But this is not the first such incident involving Junior. Reuters reported Trump’s “fixer’, Michael Cohen, stated he made more damning “personal photographs” disappear, at Trump’s request.
Thus, it was no surprise that on August 7, 2020 Falwell resigned as president and chancellor of Liberty University, founded by his father and “passed on” from Daddy.
But don’t feel too sorry for Junior. He’s worth $100 million.
According to Politico informants, Liberty University is a tarnished institution, “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund.” Politico further states that Junior “presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains.”
Politico also alleged that a Liberty employee manipulated online polls to show Trump’s in a more favorable light. As is true of the Trump Organization, Liberty utilizes NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) to ensure that its employees do not go “on the record” regarding Farwell’s misdeeds.
The Falwells have always been political wheeler dealers. In 1979, Senior began the infamous right-wing group the Moral Majority, influential for a decade in organizing the Evangelical right and supporting Reagan in his run for office. Senior was involved in politics until his health deteriorated. Following his father’s lead, Junior doesn’t try to hide his far-right politics and double standards.
Falwell, Jr. strongly, blindly supports Trump. With Michael Cohen’s encouragement, Junior endorsed him at the RNC convention in 2016, calling him “one of the greatest visionaries of our time” and the very next month compared him to Winston Churchill, savior of Great Britain.
(Food for thought: this occurred only one year after Cohen helped Junior with the pictures referred to above.) Trump was grateful, offering Junior the United States Secretary of Education position, but Junior had no interest in leaving his empire.
Evangelical Christians form a significant portion of Trump’s base, with 81% voting for him in 2016. According to a Washington Post column, when a reporter asked him, “Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?” Falwell simply said “No.” When asked by that reporter about criticism of Trump, Falwell stated “you don’t choose a president based on how good they are; you choose a president based on what their policies are.” I wonder if Jesus would agree.
I’m not surprised that this secular, amoral NYC con man has taken Evangelicals for a ride. After all, some of the best-known Evangelical preachers… not just the Falwells… have set the stage.
For example, the Grahams, Franklin and Billy (his Dad, deceased), have done pretty well for themselves by conning common people into giving them money. Have you ever wondered about how Billy, a North Carolina farm boy, ended up worth $25 million at his death in 2018?
Of course, that pales next to Jerry Junior, worth $100 million. He’s wealthy, but so are some other evangelists like Ken Copeland (with $300 million) or Pat Roberson (worth $100 million). I guess these Evangelists have a very selective reading of the bible, ignoring the above quotes.
At least Junior’s hypocrisy is out in front for everyone to see. Junior’s philosophy of making money from his religious calling while taking advantage of tax loopholes fits right in with the Trump Administration, which is also determined to blur the historical line between church and state.
There’s a very good case to be made for freedom of religion. However, as with all freedoms under our Constitution, it is not absolute. When these freedoms are simply used to further the power, ambition and wealth of unscrupulous individuals hiding behind pastoral robes, careful scrutiny must be applied to the situation.
Image Credit: the feature caricature of Jerry Falwell Jr. was created by DonkeyHotey (Flickr/Creative Commons); Donald Trump with Jerry Falwell, Jr at Liberty University taken by Shealah Craighead, an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain – via Wikipedia.org.