Yesterday, CNN’s Erin Burnett spoke to prominent evangelical Christian and president of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr. about the sexual misconduct allegations made against Donald Trump. It was a revealing interview that laid bare the rotting stench of American style commercial Christianity and exposed Falwell Jr. as a hypocritical bigot.
“At this point, do you think the president needs to come out and address these allegations directly or not?” Burnett asked Falwell pointedly.
“I don’t think he needs to come forward. I think everyone knows his past,” Falwell replied. “I’m one of the 85 percent of evangelicals who supported him. We knew about his past as a real estate mogul, as sort of a playboy, as part of a beauty pageant, and we supported him for one reason: because of his position on the issues.”
This is a far cry from the evangelical take on Bill Clinton when rumors of an affair with an intern spread through Washington DC in the 90’s. Prominent evangelicals demanded the President come clean and launched a series of fundraisers and campaigns to put pressure on him.
“The prospect that this scandal will continue unresolved for months and even years is unacceptable,” Family Research Council President and long time ally of Falwell Jr.’s father Gary Bauer told CNN. “The American people deserve nothing less than the truth. Our children are looking to your example. You can bring the controversy to a halt. You possess the full truth.”
After the Republican National Convention in 1992, Jerry Falwell Sr. and other prominent evangelicals met to, as the New York Times described, “anoint President Bush as their champion in a battle between good and evil.” The article continued:
At a two-day meeting, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Oliver L. North, Patrick J. Buchanan and others replayed many themes heard at the Houston convention, but in harsher terms.
With no national television audience looking on, speakers denounced Gov. Bill Clinton as a friend of pornographers, asserted that the ozone hole was an atheist ploy and warned that the Democrats would let militant homosexuals take over the armed forces.
Fast forward to 2018, and the children are no longer looking to the president for their example, and pornography is just fine.
Continued Falwell: “When you choose a doctor or lawyer, or when you decide which movie to watch, you don’t check the doctor or the lawyer’s past to see if they’ve had an extramarital affair. I enjoy movies, whether the actors and actresses have behaved their whole lives or not. Same thing with musicians. It’s just that we are all sinners. Nobody understands that better than evangelicals.”
Burnett was not having any of it and asked Falwell: “It doesn’t give you any pause when you think about these women having the same stories and saying these things about the president, about his behavior?”
Burnett also raised questions about porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claim they had sexual relations with Trump while he was married to his wife, Melania.
“I think he’s had a change of heart,” Falwell said. “I don’t think there’s any chance of anything like this happening in the White House like Bill Clinton was accused of or John Kennedy was accused of… I think just like with Bill Clinton, many of his supporters stuck with him no matter what he was accused of, even rape I believe he was accused of. And, you know, it’s a hypothetical question, so I can’t really answer it.”
“But hypothetically, you would be okay with even that? Is that what you are opening the door to? Rape?” Burnett shot back.
“No, no,” Falwell said. “I’m just saying I have to wait and see the circumstances to make that judgement.”
“I did try and fuck her. She was married,” Trump told Billy Bush in the leaked Hollywood Access audio. “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture—I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
Speaking about the women who was about to interview him, Trump then said to Bush:
“I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
According to Falwell Jr. and the 85% of evangelical Christians who joyously supported him over Hillary Clinton, this behavior is perfectly acceptable and a model for children to look up to, as long as Trump says he has had a change of heart. There is of course no evidence for this, other than the image handlers around Trump whose job it is to sell the president to voters and convince them he isn’t the monster he clearly is.
But then morality and Christ like behavior has nothing to do with modern Evangelical Christianity. Falwell spearheads a movement built on racism, vicious homophobia, and hatred for women, and he is willing to forgo every major Christian principle to further their aims. Evangelical Christianity in America means “white power,” and little else. And if the movement’s support of a racist sexual predator doesn’t prove it, then nothing does.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.