Jerry Falwell, Jr. says he turned down Donald Trump education secretary gig

Jerry Falwell, Jr. says he turned down Donald Trump education secretary gig
Source: AP
Source: AP

Jerry Falwell, Jr., the evangelical Liberty University president and prominent Christian conservative surrogate for President-elect Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, says he turned down an offer to serve as Trump's secretary of education this week.

According to the Associated Press, Falwell "says Trump wanted a four- to six-year commitment, but that he couldn't leave Liberty for more than two years ... he couldn't afford to work at a Cabinet-level job for longer than that and didn't want to move his family, especially his 16-year-old daughter."

Instead, Trump went with Betsy DeVos, a charter school advocate and billionaire.

Falwell is the son of controversial late preacher Jerry Falwell, the creator of the Moral Majority who once blamed gays and abortion for the Sept. 11, 2011 terror attacks. The younger Falwell assumed his leadership position at Liberty University upon his father's death in 2007. The school is famous for its strict code of conduct banning "lewd" media, drugs and alcohol, sex outside of marriage, as well as its dress code and gender segregation.

Falwell is an ardent gun rights supporter who once proposed armed students and faculty could stop and kill Muslims, and changed the university's policies to allow some students to store firearms on campus in 2015. He is a biblical creationist and staunch social conservative whose tenure at Liberty University suggests he would take the opportunity of a federal appointment to advance those views in the nation's school systems.

While evangelicals broke heavily for Trump this election, Falwell's January 2016 endorsement of Trump resulted in criticism from other Christian conservative leaders and former Liberty students.

"Not only did he compare Trump to his own father, he had the audacity to compare Trump to Jesus," Patrick Henry College chancellor Michael Farris wrote, according to Christian News. "Giving Trump an honorary doctorate in the past was unwise, but comparing him to Jesus was as close to heresy as I ever wish to witness."

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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