Jerry Falwell Jr. has argued that victories, like the recent release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, explain why evangelicals continue supporting President Donald Trump.
"I'm often asked how an evangelical Christian can support a man like President Trump. The answer is simple. I learned long ago to judge people — especially politicians — by their actions and not their words," the Liberty University president wrote in an op-ed for Fox News on Monday.
"Plenty of presidents have paid lip service to God, but few, if any, have demonstrated a consistent tendency to walk in Christ's shoes and make the morally correct decision instead of the politically easy one," he added.
"I am proud to call President Trump my friend. Above all, I'm proud of what he's doing for our country and countrymen, at home and abroad."
Falwell noted that Brunson was freed last week after spending two years in prison in Turkey, charged with assisting terrorist organizations, which he denied.
Falwell praised Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their role in speaking out for Brunson's freedom and putting pressure on Turkey. He noted that the pressure, such as economic sanctions, continued despite Turkey's initial wishes to keep the pastor in prison for a decade.
"President Trump could have easily sacrificed Brunson to maintain good relations with Turkey, a NATO ally. That nation's strategic location makes it crucial to containing Russian ambitions in the Middle East," he argued.
"The mainstream media still take every possible opportunity to paint President Trump as egotistical and uncaring, but his positive, heartfelt actions speak far louder than their negative, heartless words."
Without naming names, Falwell accused previous U.S. presidents of "pursuing the globalist agenda," and suggested they would have "quickly caved" to Turkey and failed to free the pastor.
"President Trump isn't just a strong and tough leader. He's also a good and moral person," he argued.
"Time and time again, we've seen this from the president. When pursuing a successful diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea, President Trump didn't just seek nuclear disarmament and the normalization of diplomatic relations. He demanded the return of imprisoned Americans and the return of the remains of those who died in the Korean War."
Falwell revealed that Brunson's daughter, who also campaigned for her father's release, is an online student at Liberty University.
"We chose to give her a full scholarship to pay her remaining tuition fees," he said.
Christian Broadcasting Network anchor David Brody made a similar point on Monday when explaining why evangelicals support Trump.
"Securing Pastor Brunson's release from Turkey is just the latest example of Trump's commitment. Picking his Supreme Court justices is the generational cornerstone of a much larger change" Brody positioned.
"In the evangelical world, whether it's moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, actively upholding religious liberty, eagerly encouraging pro-life policies, or standing strong for the Judeo-Christian values that made America the best country in the world, Trump is seen as an instrument in a much needed American course correction," Brody said.
A YouGov poll in July found that 41 percent of white evangelicals back Trump even if he fails to deliver on the policies that matter to them. And 29 percent said that their support for Trump depends on whether he can deliver on promises.
Some 13 percent said that they oppose Trump now, "but could reconsider him if he does a good job," while 17 percent were "strongly against Trump, period."
Some have strongly criticized evangelicals for their support of the president.
Christian activist and author Shane Claiborne asked back in April "how can a group of people known for emphasizing family values back a twice-divorced, sometimes vulgar and racially divisive figure like Trump?"
"It should grieve us that when people hear the word evangelical, they think anti-gay, anti-women, anti-environment, pro-guns, pro-military, pro-death penalty," he added.
"We've become known often for what we're against more than what we're for," he said, arguing that "many evangelicals have lifted up Donald Trump above Jesus."