Televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr.'s former chief of staff, Mark DeMoss, broke his silence Tuesday about disagreeing with Jerry Falwell Jr.'s endorsement of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Not only did DeMoss indicate that Falwell's endorsement was a mistake, he also claimed it was a "concern" for Liberty University, the Virginia Christian college founded by the elder Falwell and now led by his son.
Falwell Jr. took over the campus when his father passed away in 2007.
Read The Gospel Herald coverage from Jan. 26: Donald Trump Endorsed by Jerry Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University
Although Falwell sought to convince voters that Trump was "God-fearing president-in-waiting," according to the Washington Post, not all Christians agree.
DeMoss told the Washington Post Trump's "insult-laden campaign has been a flagrant rejection of the values Falwell Sr. espoused and Liberty promotes on its campus."
"Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult," DeMoss said. "The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defense - and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That's what's disturbing to so many people. It's not Christ-like behavior that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students."
DeMoss, a public affairs executive, sits on the board of Liberty University and chairs its executive committee.
He told the Washington Post he discussed his views about Trump personally with Falwell Jr., and that it "appears to be something we're just going to disagree on."
"I've held my tongue," DeMoss said Tuesday. "I think a lot of what we've seen from Donald Trump will prove to be difficult to explain by evangelicals who have backed him. Watching last weekend's escapades about the KKK, I don't see how an evangelical backer can feel good about that."
Trump refused in a Sunday interview with CNN's Jake Tapper to disavow the endorsement of his candidacy by David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump did denounce Duke at a news conference two days earlier.
Since January, Liberty officials stressed that Falwell Jr. endorsed Trump personally, and not on behalf of the university.
Falwell Jr. told The Post in an interview Tuesday he found DeMoss's objections "puzzling" and "was disappointed" in him. He said that his backing of Trump was never intended to influence Liberty's students or faculty.
DeMoss said it bothered him that Falwell Jr. said Donald Trump reminded him of his father. "Donald Trump certainly does not demonstrate Jerry Falwell Sr.'s graciousness and love for people. Jerry Falwell Sr. would never have made fun of a political opponent's face or makeup or ears. He would not have personally insulted anybody - ever."
DeMoss said he was speaking out to give voice to Liberty alumni, faculty and supporters who feel queasy about the school's new connection to Trump. He cited a package he recently received from one alumnus, who mailed DeMoss his original encased diploma.
"I am a recent graduate of Liberty University," DeMoss said, reading the letter. "I was proud that I finally achieved that goal and I was proud that the accomplishment was from Liberty University. I no longer feel that way. With that being said, I am returning my diploma to the board of trustees."