Jerry Falwell Jr. asked to lead Trump higher education task force
By NBC News
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., right, shakes hands with Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence at the university in Lynchburg, Virginia, in October 2016. Steve Helber / AP
by ALEX JOHNSON
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., one of the nation's most prominent evangelical Christian leaders, has been asked to head a White House task force on reforming the U.S. higher education system, the Virginia college told NBC News on Tuesday night.
Len Stevens, the university's chief spokesman, told NBC News that Falwell would bring a focus on "overregulation and micromanagement of higher education" to the task force.
Falwell wasn't immediately available for comment Tuesday evening. In the past, he has argued that the federal government imposes too many regulations governing accreditation and financing of U.S. colleges and universities.
Falwell is a lawyer and the son of the private evangelical college's founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, co-founder of the Moral Majority and an architect of the conservative Christian political movement that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980.
He has said he was offered the position of education secretary in the Trump administration late last year but declined because he wanted to stay close to his family in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the university is based. He enthusiastically endorsed Trump's eventual nominee, Betsy DeVos.
Falwell was one of the first major evangelical leaders to endorse Donald Trump's presidential campaign, along with James Dobson, founder of Family Talk Radio and the advocacy group Focus on the Family; Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative Family Research Council; and Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and former executive director of evangelist Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition.
Their support ran counter to the statements of other influential white evangelical Christian leaders, who said they found Trump's remarks about his treatment of women distasteful and were unsettled by his relative silence on social issues like gay and lesbian rights and access to legal abortion during the campaign.
Falwell acknowledged the controversies surrounding Trump, but he said he believed Trump was the better choice to advance causes championed by evangelical and other conservative Christian communities.
Exit polling on Election Day indicated that about 80 percent of white evangelical voters supported Trump, consistent with white evangelical support for Republican candidates for more than 30 years. (Black evangelical voters, who historically are strongly Democratic, are generally considered a separate political demographic in many polls.)
Saturday, January 20 2018 2:57 AM EST2018-01-20 07:57:16 GMT
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