Jerry Falwell Jr., one of President Trump’s most energetic evangelical supporters, on Thursday continued his aggressive public response to recent critical media coverage of his leadership of Liberty University. In an interview with the Trump-boosting Pentecostal-oriented medial outlet Charisma, Falwell said he is “glad to go to war” against his critics to defend Liberty’s interests, saying “I believe in Jesus’ teachings to do what’s in the best interest of the corporation.” (Falwell did not provide a scriptural citation.)
Falwell told Charisma that he believes his critics are “bitter and angry” people who want to push him out in order to find ways “to enrich themselves personally.” He has called the criticism of him an “attempted coup” and asked the FBI to conduct a criminal investigation over the release of what he says are emails stolen from the university. He told Charisma that if the FBI doesn’t want to prosecute, Liberty has “a civil action plan.” Falwell told the Associated Press that Liberty has hired “the meanest lawyer in New York” to pursue civil cases.
From the Charisma interview:
Falwell admits that this course of action may not look like turning the other cheek to some people. But he believes Jesus taught that His followers must do what’s in the best interest of the government or corporation they are part of.
“When you deal with people personally, you have an obligation to love your neighbor as yourself,” he says. “So this is not personal. This is corporate. … And I believe in Jesus’ teachings to do what’s in the best interest of the corporation, just like Donald Trump has a job to do. It’s in the best interest of the nation. So that’s my take on it all. And I’m glad to go to war. I just actually enjoy it probably a little too much.”
Falwell dismissed his critics and denied one article’s claim that he has created a “culture of fear” at Liberty U. He told Charisma that, if anything, he’s been “too merciful” by not firing incompetent employees. (One recent article quoted from Falwell emails mocking and belittling students and staff members.)
Falwell challenged the portrayal of university business deals involving Falwell’s son and personal trainer laid out in a recent Politico article, and this week Liberty released statements it said Falwell has given to several media outlets defending those arrangements, which Falwell said have all passed auditors’ muster.
In the Politico article, reporter Brandon Ambrosino, a Liberty graduate, wrote that the Liberty officials and Falwell associates the reporter spoke to don’t believe Falwell is “the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement.”
Falwell told Charisma he was being targeted for his support of Trump:
“Everybody who supports [Trump] has been tagged recently,” he says. “I’ve been finding out from different people—I won’t name names—but there have been hit pieces on almost every one of them. I think they can’t get to him because he’s so tough, so now they’re going after anybody who supported him. And good luck to them, because I’m going to have fun with it.”