Jerry Falwell’s Endorsement of Trump Reveals Who He Worships—And It Ain’t Jesus

Trump JesusIf believing oneself to be the Only Begotten Son of God makes one a follower of Jesus, then maybe Trump qualifies. Either way, Jerry Falwell has a truth problem.

On Tuesday, January 26, Jerry Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University, endorsed Donald Trump for President, saying that Trump is “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.” The endorsement is no surprise: Falwell had previously likened Trump to his own father and even to Jesus himself, saying “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

Is Trump a faithful follower of Jesus?

Set aside for the moment the fact that he’s biblically illiterate. That doesn’t necessarily disqualify him. In fact, research suggests that atheists typically perform better on tests of religious knowledge than Christians do. So, maybe the fact that Trump can’t name a favorite verse, can’t decide whether the Old Testament or New is more important, and doesn’t know how to pronounce 2 Corinthians, is just a way of establishing credibility among the faithful. Same reason he uses a 4th grade vocabulary. Clever guy, that Trump.

But let’s take a look at what Falwell said about the Great Commandment.

What is the Great Commandment?

Falwell’s effusive words reference a story from the book of Matthew. In it, the Pharisees, who are the religious authorities of the time, ask Jesus which is the greatest of all the commandments in the Torah. Levitical law recommends capital punishment for 30 different felonies, so some legitimate moral confusion could arise: Is sassing your parents really as bad sex before marriage, being a witch, or committing murder? And faced with an offense, what’s a decent person to do? In the words of the now-famous “Dr. Laura Letter,”

“I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?”

As I said, the long list of Levitical crimes and punishments can be confusing, but in Matthew’s story, the Pharisees are just trying to trick Jesus into saying one sin is worse than the rest so that they can show he’s a bad Jew. But Jesus slips the noose by answering that the whole of the Torah can be summed up in two principles: 1. Love God with all your heart; 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. The way you know you’re doing well on Commandment 1 is if you’re doing well on Commandment 2.

Love your neighbor as yourself? That’s a high bar for a guy whose narcissistic personality disorder is so florid that experts have broken the normal professional taboo against diagnosing a public figure. Clinical psychologist and professor George Simon told the press,

“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics. Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

Epic Fail

Ok, ok, so love your neighbor as yourself is a stratospherically-high bar for a narcissist, rather like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Some would argue that it’s an impossible (or unhealthy) bar even for those of us without personality disorders. How about some of the other teachings that have made Jesus a figure of inspiration for the last 2000 years?

Jesus says blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5). Trump boasts that he’s so popular that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Jesus advocates nonviolence (Matthew 5:39). Trump vows to use brute force against America’s enemies, and then take their assets to pay for the war. “To the victor belong the spoils.” He promises to strengthen the military so that it’s “so big and so strong and so great” that “nobody’s going to mess with us.” At Liberty University, he championed gun ownership, telling Christian college students, “We’ve got to have the right to protect ourselves.”

Jesus says not to call other people names (Matthew 5:22). Trump has made headlines with his public insults of (among others)  Fox reporter Megan Kelly, disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, competing presidential candidates, and the people of Iowa.

Jesus says give all your money to the poor and come follow me (Luke 18:22). Trump’s tax returns show him to be one of America’s least charitable billionaires, “a miser, not an ‘ardent philanthropist’.”

Jesus spends his time among the poor, living as one of them (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Trump’s opulent Manhattan penthouse and Palm Beach estate rival the quarters of Marie Antoinette.

Jesus heals the sick (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Trump vows to take away an insurance program that has made healthcare accessible to 10 million Americans.

Jesus welcomes the downtrodden. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  Trump envisions an “artistically beautiful” wall of steel rebar and hardened concrete along the southern border of the United States. “I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me—and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Jesus says not to shirk taxes, even if you don’t agree with the government (Mark 12:13-17). While promising to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, Trump pledges to cut taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations.

Jesus heals a woman who practices a despised minority religion, affirming her faith (Matthew 15:21-28). Trump intends to create a database of Muslims in America and suspend further immigration.

Jesus teaches that sometimes a “Samaritan,” a member of a despised minority, can show us how to live and love better (Luke 10:25-37). Trump proposes halting immigration from war-torn Syria and shipping 11 million Latin Americans back to the countries they came from.

Jesus willingly endures the criticism of his detractors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Offended at being asked hard, critical questions by conservative Fox journalist Megan Kelly, Trump announced he would refuse to participate in any debate where she was a moderator.

Falwell might have gotten away with likening Trump to Jehovah–the petulant, racist, sexist, war-mongering, temper-tantruming God of the Old Testament who seeks constant adoration. But Jesus is a different character.  If believing oneself the Only Begotten Son of God makes one a follower of Jesus, then maybe Trump qualifies. Otherwise, the two have as little in common as Napoleon and Gandhi.

Either way, Jerry Falwell has a serious truthiness issue—which in biblical terms raises questions about who he really worships. The old trope of selling one’s soul to the “Father of Lies” comes to mind. Perhaps that is why few Christians other than Evangelical Conservatives have been swayed by Falwell’s adoration of a man who so obviously is Not Like Jesus.

If Liberty University students are paying attention, Falwell’s endorsement of Trump may help some of them realize why so many former Bible believers now stand on the outside, refusing to take our guidance from self-proclaimed messengers of God and instead assessing presidential candidates and university presidents alike through the lens of our own reason and conscience.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at

About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt; Deas and Other Imaginings.
This entry was posted in Christianity in the Public Square, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Jerry Falwell’s Endorsement of Trump Reveals Who He Worships—And It Ain’t Jesus

  1. Joan Lawson says:

    Good one!

    On Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 9:34 PM, wrote:

    > Valerie Tarico posted: “If believing oneself to be the Only Begotten Son > of God makes one a follower of Jesus, then maybe Trump qualifies. Either > way, Jerry Falwell has a truth problem. On Tuesday, January 26, Jerry > Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University, endorsed Donald ” >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lotusprins says:

    Excellent article as usual. Obviously the god here is “Money” in order for Falwell to state, “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.” I wonder how much money Falwell received from Don to blaspheme?

    Sadly, in Jesus own words, we cannot distinguish between Jehovah and Jesus Christ, because he states that they are both one and the same many times. “If you know me you know my Father”, I wonder if it really was Jehovah or if he had a different Father.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. gwpj says:

    Dynamite Valerie, and right to the point! The guy makes me gag.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Mark Smith says:

    Brilliant and funny, but most Christians, especially “conservative” Christians, don’t score very high on that list of criteria.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. lbwoodgate says:

    These would make great Democratic 30 second sound bites for political ads should Trump get the GOP nomination, forcing many conservative Christians to either stay away from the polls come November or hold their nose and vote for Sanders/Clinton/Mallory

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That so many of our fellow Americans look upon this carnival barker (not to mention, pandering buffoon) in a favorable light, is very disturbing. How can we reasonably expect our experiment in democracy to succeed with an ever-increasing number of tRump supporters being born every hour, and eager to vote for such an obvious political fraud?

    I’ve got to admit: the tRump experience has put the fear of gawd into me. I am simply unable to comprehend how any reasonably competent human being could possibly lend their support for this jackass. I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone. Just today I learned that JJ Cafaro, a wealthy, NE Ohio land and mall developer contributed $50K in support of the idiot’s campaign. JJ Cafaro is well-known in OHIO as a savvy businessperson and, like tRump, has a shady past, awash in greed and corruption. By any measure, he’s shady, greedy and always suspected of questionable motives and behavior, but he’s no dufas. Could it possibly be true that even a person of this caliber could be so freakin’ stupid as to support the son of an orange-hair orangutan?

    If it is, we’re doomed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tracysc32 says:

      Well said, El Mundo! I feel the same way about tRump, and feel as though I’m living in an “unreality show” I have never seen this kind of behavior in anyone running for office, any office.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. wostraub says:

    I sincerely hope that the alignment of Christian evangelical faith with politics, military glorification, extreme authoritarianism, wealth worship, demagoguery and magical thinking will be overcome someday, but I’ve run out of patience with these idiots.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. tracysc32 says:

    Bravo, someone who does NOT have their head up their ass. Yes, I agree, tRump has “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder”. He would be detrimental to the country and it’s citizen’s. Right now, he’s pouting, and will NOT go to the debate with the other candidates, I mean, really? What a brat, how old did he say he is?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. allanmerry says:

    Most Interesting Times, indeed. And Most Difficult to truly believe we’ll survive them. Here in the real world anyhow. But must Breathe Deeply and Carry On. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. John Zelnicker says:

    The story of the Pharisees questioning Jesus reminds me of the story of the great Rabbi Hillel. When asked if he could explain the Torah while standing on one leg, he raised his foot and said, “Do not do unto others that which is abhorrent to you. All else is commentary.”


  11. Laurel Hall says:

    I think this might be Trump’s favorite verse:

    A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. His fellow citizens, however, despised his and sent a delegation after him to announce, “We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship…..[He said] “Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:12,14, 27-28)


  12. zytigon says:

    Good points by Valerie Tarico, thanks.
    Galatians 5v14 and Matthew 22v40 were verses I used to point to as being one of the decent ideas in the Bible. Actually it dawned on me recently that it isn’t true that the entire law of the O.T. is summed up in a single command, “Love your neighbour as yourself”
    The O.T. laws are very mixed, many are detrimental, misleading, based on false claims or are irrelevant to human well being & not loving, maybe there are a few helpful civilized ones. For Galations 5v14 to be true and better it should have said, “Ditch the hateful, destructive bits of Torah laws and just keep the loving bits, treat others as your would wish to be treated by them”
    There has got to be a better set of laws.

    If you have a bowl of 4 oranges and 6 pears you can’t sum it up to be 4 oranges.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gunther says:

    Brilliant article by using logical and reasoning in dissecting the Bible.


  14. Pingback: Re-blogging Valerie Tarico’s Post on Jerry Falwell’s Endorsement on Donald Trump | Wondering Eagle

  15. This is a great article! I re-blogged this at The Wondering Eagle.


  16. Pingback: These White Supremacists Just Said Donald Trump Is Like Jesus…And They Were Being Serious ‹ Winning Democrats

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s