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Trump gets official and unofficial endorsements from 2 leading evangelicals


Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150(RNS) Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late televangelist, endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, a move that will likely dismay GOP rival Ted Cruz, a Southern Baptist who is banking on evangelical votes.

Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr. has overseen a massive expansion of the Lynchburg, Va. campus. Fueled by online enrollment the campus has multiple capital projects in the works. Photo by Ryan T. Stone/courtesy USA Today

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late televangelist, endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Photo by Ryan T. Stone/courtesy USA Today

“He is a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again,” Falwell said in the statement released Tuesday (Jan. 26).

The news follows an unofficial Trump endorsement Saturday (Jan. 23) from an influential evangelical pastor from Cruz’s home state.

Robert Jeffress, who leads First Baptist Dallas, has been introducing Trump on the stump. As a pastor, Jeffress cannot officially endorse any candidate and maintain his church’s tax-exempt status. But he added:

“I want you to know I would not be here this morning if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States. … Most Americans know we are in a mess, and as they look at Donald Trump they believe he is the one leader who can reverse the downward death spiral of this nation we love so dearly.”

Dr. Robert Jeffress reads from the Bible. Photo by David Edmonson, courtesy of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TXDr.

Robert Jeffress reads from the Bible. Photo by David Edmonson, courtesy of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TXDr.

The endorsements come in time for the Iowa caucuses Monday (Feb. 1), the first major test of candidates with voters.

Trump called Falwell’s endorsement “powerful” and praised Falwell as “a high-quality person.”

Falwell gave Trump a particularly warm introduction last week at Liberty, which has hosted several presidential candidates, including Democrat Bernie Sanders, in past months. Cruz had kicked off his campaign at the Lynchburg, Va., campus.

The brash Trump, a Presbyterian not known for his spirituality, has been trying to burnish his religious credentials lately.

On Sunday (Jan. 24), he attended a Presbyterian service and heard a sermon about humility.

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for Religion News Service)

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • It is not accurate to say, “As a pastor, Jeffress cannot officially endorse any candidate and maintain his church’s tax-exempt status.” While Jeffress’ church cannot endorse without putting its tax exempt status at risk, the pastor can personally and publicly endorse anyone he chooses. While many do not distinguish between a pastor and their church, a personal endorsement would not put the church’s tax status at risk, unless it was done in the pulpit during worship, in which case it can be argued the endorsement was “officially” on behalf of the church. Whether or not it is a good idea for pastors to endorse political candidates is a separate question.

  • “The brash Trump..not known for his spirituality, has been trying to burnish his religious credentials lately.”

    Because we live in a religion-soaked country and being a Jesus Lover is the cheapest, easiest way to get a vote.
    Trump doesn’t leave free money like that lying around on the floor.

    I don’t know who to blame more, Trump or the sheeple.

  • Christianity is NOT a religion.. it’s a relationship.
    A person cannot call God into their lives, God does the calling!! Some respond.
    I am happy to be called a Jesus lover.
    But better to be called , beloved , by Jesus!
    Do you know Donald True personally?? Are you trying to say He doesn’t love Jesus.
    I suggest you check your relationship with The Lord before you accuse others of lack thereof. .
    Whether Donald is or isn’t , he is leading the probable vote issue.

  • @Monty,

    “Christianity is NOT a religion.. it’s a relationship.”

    Then shall we tax the churches?
    No. You see, a religion is a set of rules built around a god.
    “Believe or die” – JESUS (Mark 16:16)
    Sounds like a rule to me. And an awful one.

    God does the calling!

    Then I’m blameless for not believing.

    “Are you trying to say He doesn’t love Jesus.”

    No. I’m saying it is a convenient well of ‘trust’ to suck up to. Stalin did the same thing. It doesn’t matter what his beliefs are – the population has been scolded into seeking a Messiah. If Jesus doesn’t show up, Trump will do.

    “check your relationship with The Lord”
    I don’t have a Lord.
    I’m an American Citizen. My Constitutional Law says I’m free.

    “he is leading the probable vote issue.”
    I’m afraid you are right. And his plans for non-Christians looks awful.
    I hope you are the right sort of Christian for him. I know I’m not.

  • We aren’t discussing religion here. We’re discussing Christianism, which is an extreme right-wing political movement that only pretends to be a religion in order to evade taxation and public scrutiny.

  • “Christianity” should not get involved in politics at all. We have seen the results of it doing so through decades and involvement in wars as well, thereby not following Jesus’ example. In those cases, it has not proven to be “true” to what Jesus taught.

  • It is so wonderful to see both Falwell Jr. and Jeffress endorse the “Donald.” I would think that 2 leaders of the Baptist faith would see Trump for the egotistical, ungodly bully that he is. Wow, Trump goes over the same talking points time after time and comes across as a buffoon. I’m afraid millions will be having buyer’s remorse quite soon if this man is elected president. It’s time for people to wake up & see what he’s really about. Can you imagine him appointing Supreme Court justices? He’ll really clean up the justice system and trim gov’t. And by the way, he claims he knows how to get along with Pelosi, Reid, and Schumer. Doesn’t that reassure those who want conservative and constitutional solutions? The people he screwed over while filing business bankruptcy 4 times in the last 3 decades would also attest to the fine upstanding deal-maker that he is. God help the delusional. I’m all in for Ted Cruz! He’s not perfect but he is superior to Trump in smarts &…

  • I believe that Robert Jeffress (and for that matter, Jerry Falwell, Jr) as individuals can endorse any political candidate they want. However, the Pastor of First Baptist Church or the president of Liberty University (a religious, non-profit institution) violate the IRS rules when they speak publicly in those roles to endorse a specific political candidate. But, so what? The IRS has seldom, if ever, really enforced their rule – the Christianists violate it all the time and ne’er a prosecution arises. But, whoa, a contrived undercover video of Planned Parenthood doctors – look out!

  • Since none of the candidates are perfect, we might as well vote for someone who has a reputation for being a “mover” and a “shaker”, and for getting things done, and expecting people to do their part as well. Vote for Donald Trump!

  • The hyphenated last name leads me to believe you might have a pretty interesting marriage history yourself?

  • Falwell and Jeffries are so obviously corrupt, they are practically begging to be investigated.

    I marvel at the patience and mercy of the Lord in the face of the abomination that is American evangelical leadership. What an utter disgrace these people are.

  • @Jack,

    “What an utter disgrace these people are.”

    Religion makes people disgraceful. When your philosophy is built on evil decrees you will act in disgraceful ways:

    JESUS disgracefully said (paraphrased):
    WHICH I THE LORD GAVE TO YOU.” – (Matthew 16:24)

    If a good god existed, he would save us from this nonsense, not force us to endlessly argue over it!

  • Out of respect for Ben, and for friends I know who are atheists and have more integrity on the tip of their pinky than you do in your entire soul, I will not stoop to your level, Max.

    Someone once said that hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, just as counterfeit money points to the existence of real money.

    Thus there is bad and good news about Christian hypocrisy. The bad news is that it is despicable. The good news is that it cannot obscure the reality of Christians who are not hypocritical, nor of something even bigger — the objective reality of moral, ethical and spiritual standards which no amount of hypocrisy can obliterate.

  • @Jack,


    Christianity is Hypocrisy:

    “Judge not that ye be not judged” – JESUS (Matthew 7:1)
    “Judge them unworthy, remove your blessings of Peace” – JESUS (Matthew 10:13)

    “Love those who won’t listen” – JESUS (Luke 6:27)
    “Abandon them who won’t listen” – JESUS (Matthew 10:14)

    “Bless those who curse you” – JESUS (Luke 6:27)
    “take back YOUR BLESSING from the unworthy” – JESUS (Matthew 10:13)

    “Pray in public – shine your light” – JESUS (Sermon on the Mount)
    “DO NOT pray in public – hide your light” – JESUS (Sermon on the Mount)

    “Blessed are the peacemakers” – JESUS (Matt. 5:9)
    “I do not bring Peace” – JESUS (Matt. 10:34)

    “do not steal” – JESUS
    “I saw a colt, go and take it” – JESUS (Luke 19:29-34)

    “Honor your parents”– JESUS(Matthew 15:4)
    “Hate your parents” – JESUS(Luke 14:26)

    “Love enemies” – Jesus(Matthew 5:44)
    “Kill my enemies” –…

  • @Jack,

    “I will not stoop to your level max.”

    Oh? How much lower can you already stoop?

    You CLAIM – God answers prayers in ways which can be measured.
    “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – JESUS (Mark 11:24)

    You CLAIM – God blesses good people with things which can be seen.
    “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need..” – (Corinthians 9:8)

    You CLAIM – God smites bad people with physical problems.
    “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” – (Acts 23:3)

    YOU CLAIM – God’s blessings are to be WITNESSED physically.
    “Go; your faith has made you well.” – JESUS (Mark 10:52)

    YOU CLAIM – God’s relationships can be SHOWN
    “You will know them by their fruits.” – (Matthew 7:16)

    All of it is nonsense.
    You hold an empty bag! Yet you accuse me of dishonesty?

  • @Jack,

    “I know atheists with more integrity on the tip of their pinky than you…”

    Who are you to speak of integrity? Where is your God? Where is Jesus?
    Why does your God claim to need faith from us?

    Why won’t your God heal amputees who pray with strong faith?
    Yet God grants new arms to SALAMANDERS and STARFISH all the time
    – and there is no evidence those creatures pray at all!

    You claim a god exists yet it is obviously a cold hearted lie!
    And you see yourself as having Integrity? How does that work?
    Where is this god?

  • Lots of women hyphenate their names. It’s their maiden name and their married name, not names from two different marriages Some women’s maiden name is hyphenated. Sheesh, judgmental and uneducated much?