Liberty University President and longtime Donald Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr. called on evangelical Christians to rally against "Fake Republicans."
"There are four or five 'Fake Republicans' in the Senate and many in the House," Falwell tells Breitbart News. "If they can be replaced in 2018—the political class needs to go. If the people can go out and find candidates like Donald Trump who have been successful in the private sector and go out and primary those people—I'm talking about, I know it's not going to happen in Maine, but I'm talking about people like Susan Collins, [Lindsey] Graham, [Jeff] Flake, [John] McCain, [Mitch] McConnell. Even the ones that don't—I heard somebody on the radio this morning, one of Mitch McConnell's friends, bragging about how the Republicans have gone 95 percent with Trump's agenda. Well, the 5 percent is always the one—the issues that matter. It's always the issues that matter. They don't always, the group of 'Fake Republicans,' they don't always vote against it. They just make sure enough of their buddies vote against it to kill it. It's all done behind closed doors. They got to go. And I think if they go, Trump is going to be the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln."
Flake announced just this week he would not seek re-election after a tirade against President Trump on the Senate floor.
To bring about further change in the nation's leadership, Falwell demands fellow believers help "drain the swamp," as the president once put it.
"They need to do the same thing in the Senate and House elections next year, and they need to not—they need to do what they did with Trump," Falwell tells Breitbart. "Don't look at a candidate on whether he has the same religious background as you do. Don't look at whether he or she is fit to be the pastor of your church. Look at who's going to vote right on the issues. Look at who's actually succeeded in real life outside of the political world. That's who they need to vote for. It may not be the most conservative candidate. But it's got to be somebody who's not part of the establishment and has succeeded in real life. Look for somebody with common sense. Find that candidate and support them, and I think they can change the Congress. Then in the last few years of Trump's presidency, we can turn this country around."
Though Falwell says faith should not play a large role in who to vote for, Christian commentator John Burton disagrees.
In an article previously posted on Charisma News, Burton suggests the following biblical guidelines for selecting a leader:
First Timothy 3:1-7 reveals the qualifications of overseers of the church. I propose that these must be minimum qualifications for one who would desire to lead our nation:
- Above reproach—This means to be blameless. No evil should be able to be proved against any candidate of public office. This doesn't only mean any illegal activity; it means to be free of evil, of sinful practice. How can a president lead our nation via righteous means if he isn't living righteously himself?
- The husband of one wife—This mandate has become so diluted in our modern society. It's shocking that we would hold to a position that divorced people disqualify themselves from leadership (unless the divorce is supported by Scripture).
- Sober-minded—Adam Clarke translates this as "having the complete government of all his passions." This is talking about a mature person who isn't given to anger or emotional responses to the issues of life.
- Self-controlled—Sometimes candidates for office are referred to as appearing presidential. They are self-controlled, steady and not swayed by the challenges in front of them. They are confident and solid in their position.
- Respectable—A candidate's reputation will precede them, and it must be squeaky clean. At the least, they must humbly admit their previous failures and be believable going forward. They must be genuine.
- Hospitable—Will a candidate get into the trenches with common people, serve them with passion and connect with them as a friend? It's something very special when this happens, and I believe we should expect it. It's a part of the office.
- Able to teach—It might be easy to dismiss this as pertaining specifically to pastors. I would disagree. We must have a leader who can communicate clearly, understand his subject matter and connect with the people of America so well that he gains our trust and that we are properly informed.
- Not a drunkard—This should go without saying. No leader, spiritual or secular, will be able to fulfill his duties if he drinks to excess.
- Not violent—Violence in a pastor would be truly terrible. Violence in the leader of our nation would literally put our nation at risk of nuclear war.
- Gentle—A non-violent leader is mandatory, but we have to expect even more. They must be gentle. Do you perceive a gentle, tender heart in your candidate?
- Not quarrelsome—Do they play dirty? Do they call people names, act like a bully or threaten? If so, putting them in the land's highest position would be a cataclysmic mistake.
- Not a lover of money—This should be absolutely non-negotiable for any leader, much less the president of the United States. A love of money is the root of all evil, and if that attribute is in our leader, our nation is put at extreme risk of being overtaken by evil.
- Manage his household well—Does the candidate have a reputation of being a stable family leader? Do his children respect him? Are they submissive? This is more important than we may realize.
- Not a recent convert—This may be the most important attribute for the leader of our nation. Having anybody other than a seasoned Christian leading our nation should be unthinkable.
- Be well thought of by outsiders—Is the candidate an honorable person? Do people respect their character?
Falwell recommends "common-sense candidates."
"When I say common-sense candidates, when I say not always the most conservative, I'm saying don't just vote on ideology," Falwell tells Breitbart. "When you listen to these politicians, they know what to say to assure you what their ideology is. But that's not what matters. What matters is do they have common sense? Have they succeeded in the real world? Then, all the rest will follow because if you have common sense and you start trying to fix things then you're going to become a conservative like Trump did, because you see that's the only way to fix things."
Many prominent believers have frowned upon Falwell's politicking.
Some alumni even returned their diplomas to the school in protest of Falwell's unwavering presidential support.
Michael Farris, the former head of the Moral Majority founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., took issue with Falwell Jr.'s constant praise of the president. Farris was a longtime friend of the Falwell family as he worked side-by-side with Falwell Sr.
Trump has big visions. Falwell Sr. had big vision. But Jerry's vision was built by inspiring people to believe that Liberty would be faithful to the vision of Christ. Giving Trump an honorary doctorate in the past was unwise, but comparing him to Jesus was as close to heresy as I ever wish to witness.
Jerry Falwell Sr. taught and we believed that character matters and candidates should share our worldview—not our vision of financial success.
The movement would have been still-born had Jerry Sr. ever stood on a stage and endorsed a man who is not pro-life, who mocks God by saying he has nothing to be forgiven for, and who has had the audacity to say on stage that he has given to candidates of all parties because it is necessary for business.
That is not a man of principle. That is a man who games the system for profit.
I cannot say what Jerry Sr. would say today. But I can speak for the crowd at that first meeting in 1980.
Shame on you, Jerry Falwell Jr. for elevating success in business over the principles of right and wrong that flow from giving priority to the Word of God over the priority of a balance sheet. I am deeply saddened.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.