Jerry Falwell Jr.’s in an interesting spot.
As the president of Liberty University, he’s the figurehead of the largest-ish private Christian college in the country, but he was also the first and most prominent evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle — and has remained fiercely devoted to Trump’s presidency ever since. And then there’s the bevy of salacious scandals swirling around him, like last week’s accusation that Falwell had recruited Trump’s old personal lawyer Michael Cohen to help squash some “personal photographs” that had fallen into the wrong hands. (Falwell has denied the report and the allegations.)
All of this has gone down with little cost to Falwell’s social capital but apparently, he’s of the mind that the evangelical establishment has some rogue elements. In a late night tweet, Falwell posted …uh, this.
My good friend @jerryvines just told me Dr. Adam Greenway is a wonderful man and not part of the @drmoore SBC deep state regime trying to subvert the will of the church members! So glad to hear this news! @toddstarnes https://t.co/ra7vCnutj9
— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) May 14, 2019
Well, there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start at the top.
Dr. Adam Greenway was nominated to be the new president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary back in February. Jerry Vines was president of the Southern Baptist Convention in the late ’80s and early ’90s, well known for his conservative and sometimes controversial public stances.
And then there’s Dr. Russell Moore, the well-known president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Moore attracted controversy in 2016 for anti-Trump comments that reportedly nearly cost him his job. Moore has been relatively quiet on the Trump front following a private meeting with the SBC higher-ups, but apparently, that’s not good enough for Falwell, who still sees him as part of the “SBC deep state.”
“Deep State” is a conspiratorial reference generally applied to American politics, referring to an inner cabal of cronyism who attempt to rule the country via undemocratic means. Falwell is evidently of the mind the Moore is “trying to subvert the will of the church members” — though one can only guess at what sinister plot Falwell imagines Moore is concocting within the bowels of the SBC.
Given the conspiratorial verbiage, it’s a little hard to take an accusation like this seriously — but it is nevertheless a pretty serious accusation. Moore has yet to respond.