Jerry Falwell Jr. to Evangelicals: Don't Vote Based Upon Faith, Back Steve Bannon's Effort Instead

(Photo: REUTERS/Dave Kaup)U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with co-headliner Jerry Falwell Jr., leader of the nation’s largest Christian university, during a campaign event at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa January 31, 2016.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is calling on evangelicals to join Breitbart Chairman Steve Bannon's war against "fake Republicans" in Congress, and not support candidates because they are also evangelicals. 

Thee 55-year-old Falwell, the son of legendary pastor and conservative political activist Jerry Falwell Sr, praised Bannon, who espouses populist and economic nationalist views, during a recent interview with Bannon's own news outlet Breitbart, which has been criticized for providing a platform to alt-right views.

During the interview, Falwell was asked what he thought about the former White House chief strategist's self-proclaimed war against establishment Republicans.

Earlier this month, Bannon, who stepped down from his role in the Trump administration in August, told a gathering of evangelicals at the Family Research Council's Values Voters Summit about his "war" against the GOP establishment and called on values voters to "finish" the war.

"I love it," Falwell said of Bannon's war against the establishment in the Senate.

"I knew when [Bannon] left the administration, he was doing it for a reason," Falwell was quoted as saying. "A good reason. And now we all know what it was. He sees that for Trump to be successful, those guys got to go. I'm so proud of him for going after them and leading the effort and Laura Ingraham is out there helping the effort too."

Evangelicals shouldn't support candidates because they share their faith, Falwell added. 

"Don't look at a candidate on whether he has the same religious background as you do. Don't look at whether he or she fit to be the pastor of your church. Look at who's going to vote right on the issues. Look at who's actually succeeded in real life outside of the political world. That's who they need to vote for. It may not be the most conservative candidate. But it's got to be somebody who's not part of the establishment and has succeeded in real life," he said.

Falwell, who is one of the president's most loyal evangelical supporters was one of the first evangelical leaders to endorse the thrice married billionaire in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, claimed that he coined the phrase "fake Republicans" to describe the likes of Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Falwell argued that if a handful of "fake Republicans" in the Senate can be replaced during the midterm elections of 2018, then Trump could potentially become one of the greatest presidents in American history.

"I heard somebody on the radio this morning, one of Mitch McConnell's friends, bragging about how the Republicans have gone 95 percent with Trump's agenda. Well, the five percent is always the one — the issues that matter," Falwell explained. "It's always the issues that matter. They don't always, the group of 'fake Republicans,' they don't always vote against it. They just make sure enough of their buddies vote against it to kill it. It's all done behind closed doors. They got to go. And I think if they go, Trump is going to be the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln."

Falwell added that he was proud of the 63-year-old Bannon for trying to oust the Republican establishment.

"He's probably the only guy who could organize an effort to primary out these, I keep saying 'fake Republicans' because that's what they are," Falwell said. "They deceive their constituencies into believing they are something they're not. I think that's the worst kind of politician."

Falwell even asserted that he has "more respect for the Democrats" than he does for "fake Republicans."

"[A]t least the Democrats admit what they believe. At least they tell their constituencies how they feel on the issues," Falwell stated. "These moderate 'Fake Republicans' – they play the people. They mislead them. They pull the wool over their eyes. I just think that's the worst type of deceit in politics."

Falwell added that the days of politicians being able to fool voters is over.

"I think now the people have wised up because they talk to each other on Facebook and they get their news from so many different sources, and they are starting to see how they've been fooled," he stated. "I think that groundswell is what happened to Luther Strange and I think it's going to happen to a lot of them next year. It's the only hope for the country. We really don't have a majority in the Senate, and I don't think in the House. Paul Ryan is in a lot of ways just as bad as a lot of the senators. He hides it. But it's a sort of a vicious acquiescence."

Bannon and his allies have claimed victories in recent weeks as the Bannon-backed Roy Moore defeated incumbent Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican Senate primary and as Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker announced that he would retire in 2018. This week, Bannon claimed another victory after Flake, a Trump critic, announced that he would not seek reelection.

"The establishment Republicans are in full collapse. They're not even fighting back. They're out of ideas, guts and out of money," Bannon told the Financial Times. "Flake was polling like crazy and the numbers were coming back terrible. Flake shows you one important thing. The money is getting turned off. He went down without a fight."

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