Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said that the recent violent clashes at Donald Trump rallies are largely due to the billionaire businessman's "incredible" success at the polls terrifying both Republicans and Democrats.
Falwell also suggested that Christians must "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," referring to the words of Jesus Christ, in their response to the violence.
"I believe the primary factors responsible for the hostilities are rooted in Donald Trump's successes at the polls: the Republican establishment has as its legacy a string of unkept promises to both conservative and to Christian voters as well as to blue collar workers and the middle class in the United States over the last few decades," Falwell told The Christian Post in a statement, responding to unrest at Trump's rallies that forced him to cancel last week's Chicago event.
"Voters no longer trust or believe what establishment candidates are saying and have turned to candidates who are outsiders. The Republican establishment is terrified by this development and is frankly still in denial that it has happened. The behavior of the Republican establishment made Donald Trump's rise possible and the protests in downtown Chicago are simply the reaction of the radical left to Trump's success," he added.
The Liberty University President further argued that Republicans are "fearful of a candidate they cannot control," and added that the left is also "fearful of a Republican candidate who will not acquiesce to the agenda of the left," blaming congressional Republicans of giving President Barack Obama a "blank check" over the past seven years.
"At the end of the day, though, the protest in Chicago resulted from Trump's incredible and unexpected wins at the polls. In politics, sometimes the best measure of success is the reaction of your enemies," he added.
On the question of whether the unrest at Trump's rallies could also potentially threaten religious freedom, Falwell said he does not believe that to be the case, explaining that he sees it as "a non-violent clash between two political factions – not that uncommon in American politics."
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, offered CP another point of view on the question earlier this week, however, arguing that if freedom of speech is threatened, one day preaching about Jesus Christ could be threatened too.
"The idea that a mass of people can shut down free speech and subsequently silence free expression, runs counter to our God given constitutional rights," Rodriguez said.
"While Mr. Trump's rhetorical demagoguery requires a civil yet poignant response, a chaotic and anarchist type strategy as exhibited in Chicago can one day threaten my right to preach the culturally unpopular Gospel of Jesus Christ," he added.
"God called King David a man after God's own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer. You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We're not voting for pastor-in-chief," Falwell told student-run newspaper Liberty Champion, explaining his endorsement.
"It means sometimes we have to choose a person who has the qualities to lead and who can protect our country and bring us back to economic vitality, and it might not be the person we call when we need somebody to give us spiritual counsel."
As for how Christians should respond to the fighting seen at Trump rallies, Falwell told CP that they should "obey the teaching of Jesus to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's by being good citizens, defending and protecting their neighbors and their families when necessary and not shying away from their responsibilities as citizens to vote and participate in the political process."