Jerry Falwell 'divides American Christians on racial lines' says Sojourners' Jim Wallis
Jim Wallis, celebrated evangelical author and speaker, has turned on Jerry Falwell Jr accusing him of preaching a 'different gospel' and of stoking racial divisions.
In a hard-hitting article on his website, the Sojourners founder accused Falwell, who is president of the evangelical Liberty University, of 'dividing American Christians on racial lines'.
Writing after Falwell said in Donald Trump 'evangelicals have found their dream president', Wallis said: 'Jerry Falwell Jr has once again shown himself to be nothing more or less than a Republican political operative, interested in advancing his preferred policy agenda much more than examining what it means to be a Christian.'
Wallis pulled no punches as he accused Falwell of 'moral hypocrisy' and of preaching a different gospel.
He said Falwell's endorsement of Trump 'symbolizes the white ethno-nationalism' the Republican President appeals to and reveals the 'racial idolatry of white American evangelical Christianity, which clearly excludes American evangelicals of color and the global majority of evangelicals'.
He wrote: 'Falwell is explicitly and proudly saying that white evangelicals voted for Trump not in spite of his racist and xenophobic rhetoric about undocumented immigrants, but because of this rhetoric,' he wrote. 'How that relates to Christians, including evangelicals, who are in direct relationship to the undocumented immigrants and refugees that Trump wants to deport or keep out of our country, Falwell didn't say.'
Wallis went on to refer to the outright racist views of Falwell's father, Jerry Falwell Sr, who opposed the civil rights movement, argued for racial segregation and opposed sanctions on apartheid South Africa, though he later distanced himself from those views.
'Racism is not a gospel issue to the Falwells, and never has been,' wrote Wallis.
He went on: 'Racism and racial bigotry is a gospel issue, and overcoming our human divisions in a new multi-cultural community was at the center of the vocation of the early church.'
Speaking of his own opposition to Trump he wrote: 'It is important to remember that the majority of American evangelicals of color, and the 19 percent of us white evangelicals who voted with them — against Trump — did so because we are pro-life and pro-family. For all of us, Trump's racial bigotry was a deal breaker and disqualifier of a Christian vote. That only a few conservative evangelical leaders, like Southern Baptist Russell Moore, took that stance was one of the saddest things about the 2016 election.'
Wallis added: 'It's time for other white evangelicals to call out the white American evangelical leaders who have yet to speak out against the racial politics of President Donald Trump in his campaign, in his first 100 days, and going forward. The integrity of the church is at stake, as is our relationship with our brothers and sisters of color in United States, and our loyalty to the global multi-color majority of the body of Christ.'