Jerry Falwell Jr Says He Turned Down Job As Donald Trump's Education Secretary

Donald Trump and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr at a campaign event earlier this year.Reuters

Jerry Falwell Jr, the leading evangelical who is president of Liberty University, has admitted he turned down the President-Elect's offer of a job to serve as his education secretary.

Falwell he said could not afford the four to six years he would need to be away from Liberty.

In the end, Donald Trump chose the billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVoss, a supporter of school vouchers, for what is certain to be one of the pivotal positions of his presidency.

Falwell's decision to back Trump early on in the campaign caused anger among evangelicals and there was even a protest from two thousand members of his own student body at Liberty.

He refused to back down after endorsing Trump, and went even further, comparing him to King David in the Bible. He also said Trump reminded him of his own late father, also called Jerry Falwell, the hugely influential Southern Baptist pastor and evangelist who founded Liberty in 1971.

There was speculation last week that Falwell was to be offered the job so some were surprised when it went instead to the lower-profile but well-respected DeVoss.

Fallwell has now told Associated Press that that he was offered the job during a meeting with Trump in New York but had to decline because he could not take longer than two years away from Liberty. He also did not wish to move his daughter who is still in her teens.

The fact that he was offered it all is an indication of the influence the Christian right will hold during Trump's term in office. His Vice President-Elect Mike Pence is from the devoutly conservative evangelical wing, as are others in his team.