As Iowa faith leader endorses Rand Paul, Falwell, Jr. gets heat for his pro-Trump comments

Originally published at Rare

Rand Paul’s presidential campaign announced the support of Iowa Reverend Brian Nodler on Thursday, stating that his endorsement adds to Paul’s growing team of faith leaders in the state. Reverend Nodler announced his decisionin a statement that explains why he believes Paul is the right choice for Christians.

“Sen. Paul’s vision and policies, while perhaps out of the mainstream today … actually reflect the conservatism of our nation’s founding fathers, our founding documents, and the first decades of our history. More importantly, I believe they reflect biblical principles,” wrote Nodler.

“I support Sen. Paul because he wants the American people to be liberated from state dependence,” added Nodler, noting that the “Leviathan of federal government” and “massive welfare state” have crowded out both entrepreneurship and reliance on strong communities.

Nodler also said that he believes, as Paul does, that our national debt is not just an economic issue but a moral issue. Nodler added that he’s impressed with Paul’s strong pro-life track record both in the senate and through his personal actions.

Further, Nodler praised Paul’s foreign policy, saying, “I am concerned that our country has moved further and further away from the ‘just war’ principles of the Christian tradition that used to inform, and indeed restrain, so much of our foreign policy.”

Nodler joins Rev. Mark Doland, who wrote of his support for Paul in the Des Moines Register last year. Doland cited Paul’s commitments to fairness in the criminal justice system and the pro-life cause as reasons for his endorsement.

Rev. Nodler’s support of Paul comes in the wake of evangelical criticism aimed at Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late pastor who shares his name. Falwell Jr. recently invited Donald Trump to speak at Liberty University, the conservative Christian college founded by his father, and has faced criticism for his praise of the real estate magnate.

Falwell Jr. compared Trump to his father, and said, “When you look at the fruits of his life and all the people he’s provided jobs, I think that’s the true test of somebody’s Christianity.” These comments, among others, have drawn sharp rebukes from several evangelical leaders.

Said Michael Farris, a home schooling advocate and Moral Majority leader, “Trump made history by opening the first strip club in a casino in New Jersey. Jerry Sr. made history by inspiring millions of Christians to engage in civic life–including battling porn, not putting on pornographic stage shows.”

“Giving Trump an honorary doctorate [from Liberty University] in the past was unwise, but comparing him to Jesus was as close to heresy as I ever wish to witness. Jerry Falwell, Senior taught and we believed that character matters and candidates should share our worldview–not our vision of financial success,” he added.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council said, “The late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the son who bore his name had endorsed the most immoral and ungodly man to ever run for president of the United States.” (Falwell claims he hasn’t endorsed Trump, but nonetheless lavished him with praise.)

Said Russell Moore, president of the ethics and religious liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, “[Trump] is someone who, as recently as yesterday, said that he has nothing to seek forgiveness for, despite the fact that you have someone who has broken up two households, by his own admission, with scandalous results.”

Criticizing Falwell Jr.’s handling of Trump, Moore added, “Portraying this lost soul as a brother in Christ is not only doing wrong to Trump himself, it preaches an anti-gospel to all who hear.” Said Moore, “The gospel is about repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, not about excusing sin and injustice for the sake of political power.”

Which presidential candidate will appeal most to evangelical voters remains unclear, but polls show that Trump is shockingly popular in that demographic, as are Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. But Iowa is largely seen a bellwether for evangelical support, and Rand Paul’s campaign believes he is on the rise in the key early state.

The Iowa caucus is February 1st.

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