In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Jerry Falwell Jr. said:
“A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.”
Falwell, of course, is the son of the late mega-evangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell and the current president of Liberty University, the Christian college founded by his father. He is also, apparently, a self-appointed spokesperson for Christians everywhere. Christians, according to Falwell, should throw all their support behind a philandering, racist, misogynistic, lying, cheating scoundrel of a man because God thinks it’s fine if government is corrupt. His comments about poor people are particularly galling as his father made his fortune largely by convincing a lot of poor people to send him what little money they had. Baby Falwell’s silver spoon was forged by poor people, but he developed his bitterness all on his own.
Anyway, Falwell is right about poor people not doing some things that wealthier people do all the time. Let’s look at a few examples.
- Poor people don’t establish charity foundations in their own name and then use those foundations as a private bank account as the Trump family did.
- Poor people don’t hide their assets in offshore bank accounts in an effort to launder money, avoid paying taxes and defraud the American people as Paul Manafort and Rick Gates did.
- Poor people don’t use their tax-exempt Christian university status to conduct shady real estate transactions and hide profits in order to avoid tax penalties as Jerry Falwell III allegedly did, possibly with the help of his father.
- Poor people don’t open bogus universities in order to swindle thousands of people out of their money and offer nothing of value in return. Again, Trump. But higher learning is apparently catnip for wealthy people hoping to separate the masses from their money. The Falwell-founded Liberty University online program has also been scrutinized for deceptive recruiting and other shady practices.
- Poor people don’t hire dishwashers, waitresses, painters, small business owners, lawyers, and others and then refuse to pay those people for their work. Working for the Trump Organization might make you poorer.
Falwell may fancy himself the epitome of the modern Christian, but he sounds like an old-fashioned hypocrite. By Falwell’s reckoning, a poor man like Jesus could never contribute much to the world. And he disagrees with Jesus’s own assessment of charitable giving, as is evidenced by this story from the Gospel of Mark.
“(Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’Mark 12:41-44
Jerry Falwell Jr. may speak for himself and he may speak for Trump and he may even speak for some Christians, but he speaks in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus. His common sense is nonsense. It doesn’t take any money at all to see the ugly truth about Jerry Falwell Jr. He may be wealthy, but he’s a man of very little substance.