Alright kids, the 2016 Presidential election has now entered the Twilight Zone. I mean, it's been weird for quite a while already, but today the weirdness quotient went through the roof. The President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States of America.
That's the rough equivalent of saying something like, "Billy Graham announced today from his deathbed that back in 1955 he had an inappropriate relationship with Fidel Castro," or "Famous leftist actor Sean Penn today gave his enthusiastic endorsement to Mike Huckabee's candidacy."
Ok, Liberty University is the largest Christian University in the Cosmos. It's core mission is to provide quality education to young skulls full of mush with a biblical worldview. That particular perspective takes a dim view of stuff like divorce, and abortion, vices like gambling and pornography, and encourages it's students to askew the lure of money and materialism as the be all and end all of life. So...the school's President comes out with a full-throated endorsement of a man who is on his third wife, has been pro-choice all of his natural life, has made his living building casinos, and has carefully crafted for himself an unparalleled reputation as the very definition of materialistic excess. Wait...what?
Now listen, I understand that Christians can disagree when it comes to politics. Heck, I disagree with my own kids about politics all the time, so I get it. And I also know, that when we as citizens enter the voting booth, we are not electing a Sunday School teacher. We often have to make a pragmatic choice between two flawed candidates, neither of whom we would want anywhere near a Sunday School class. Many times it comes down to...who will do the least harm?
But, as a Christian, a man's character has to enter into the calculus, does it not? The things that this man has said over the past six months of this campaign have been staggering. How can someone who claims to live by Christian principles fail to hear the thinly veiled racism in his remarks about Mexicans? Shouldn't any self-respecting Christian cringe when they hear a candidate for the Presidency mocking the disabled? What should go through the mind of a Christian father and husband when they hear Mr. Trump talking about how smoking hot his daughter is and how if he were a little younger and, you know, NOT HER DAD, maybe he would date her? More importantly, how should someone like Jerry Falwell Jr. feel when he hears a man who has been a party to two failed marriages and four bankruptcies say that he can't ever remember asking God for forgiveness for anything since he doesn't think he's ever done anything that required it?
One more thing that bothers me about not only the Falwell endorsement, but the many other evangelical leaders who have warmed to Trump...since when did "Making America Great Again" become a project of Christianity? Don't misunderstand me, I love my country, and like any other American, I want it to be better. But the primary focus of the Christian faith is not to make America better, it's to make people better, by introducing them to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. Hopefully, properly discipled Christians will become better people, more caring, more courageous and better citizens. But if Making America Great involves chasing after some nationalistic renewal built upon hatred, envy and ego, then count me out.
Sure, when I vote, I try to elect people who share my spiritual ethics. Sometimes it's easier than others. But generally speaking, I don't go out of my way to vote for someone who's entire life has been a living, breathing rebuke to biblical Christianity. Especially when there are still so many other alternatives from which to pick.
So, when I see someone as influential as Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsing Donald Trump, I wonder...how much money did the Trumpster promise Liberty University?