Jerry Falwell Jr, the influential evangelical president of Liberty University in Virginia, has passionately backed Steve Bannon's declaration of 'war' against what Falwell calls 'fake Republicans'.
Bannon, who has returned to the rightwing news site Breitbart as executive chairman after a stint as Donald Trump's adviser, has called for a 'season of war' against the political class in Washington, DC.
Falwell, in an interview with Breitbart, backed Bannon and said: 'I've coined the term "Fake Republicans"...There are four or five "Fake Republicans" in the Senate and many in the House. If they can be replaced in 2018 – the political class needs to go. If the people can go out and find candidates like Donald Trump who have been successful in the private sector and go out and primary those people...'
Referring to the so-called 'Fake Republicans', Falwell continued: 'They got to go. And I think if they go, Trump is going to be the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.'
Asked specifically about Bannon's 'season of war', Falwell said: 'I love it.'
Falwell said that he is 'so proud of' Bannon: 'He's probably the only guy who could organise an effort to primary out these, I keep saying "Fake Republicans" because that's what they are. They deceive their constituencies into believing they are something they're not. I think that's the worst kind of politician. I have more respect for the Democrats than I do for those "Fake Republicans," because at least the Democrats admit what they believe. At least they tell their constituencies how they feel on the issues. 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.'
The evangelical leader, who was an early backer of Trump's candidacy for the presidency last year, went on: 'There was a day when the Republicans who are not really Republicans could fool the American people because there was no Internet, there was just three or four networks and that was it. They got away with it for a long time. For decades, really. 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.'
Asked what evangelical Christians should do, Falwell said, extraordinarily, that politicians' backgrounds are more important than their religious beliefs.
'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,' he said. '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. Look for somebody with common sense. Find that candidate and support them, and I think they can change the Congress. Then in the last few years of Trump's presidency we can turn this country around.'
He added: 'When I say common sense candidates, when I say not always the most conservative, I'm saying don't just vote on ideology. When you listen to these politicians, they know what to say to assure you what their ideology is. But that's not what matters. What matters is do they have common sense? Have they succeeded in the real world? Then, all the rest will follow because if you have common sense and you start trying to fix things then you're going to become a conservative like Trump did, because you see that's the only way to fix things.'