The publisher of Hustler magazine has accused Jerry Falwell Jr of ‘gross hypocrisy’ in an op ed in which he attacked the disgraced evangelical leader for his marital turmoil and his support of Donald Trump.
Larry Flynt, 77, said that Falwell Jr, 53, was among ‘a parade of charlatans’ who preached moral purity, yet failed to live up to their own standards.
Falwell Jr was forced to resign as president of the evangelical Liberty University on August 25 after details emerged of his marital turmoil.
His wife Becki is alleged to have had a seven-year affair with their pool boy, Giancarlo Granda, 29.
Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.
Falwell Jr left the conservative institution after a 13-year career there, but walked away with a $10.5 million payout.
Flynt accused Falwell Jr and his fellow evangelical megapreachers of being ‘obsessed above all with sexual behavior, ignoring and subverting the core message of Christianity – humility and compassion for the downtrodden – while embracing “prosperity gospel,” which is to say the gospel of greed above all other values.’
Writing on Monday in The Daily Beast, Flynt criticized Falwell Jr and other evangelicals for their support of Donald Trump, who has been married three times.
‘They support Republican politicians eager to gut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare and other programs designed to do what Jesus Christ strived for: the reduction of human suffering in this vale of tears,’ he wrote.
‘They live in multimillion-dollar mansions and fly around in private jets, while fleecing their flock for “prayer donations” guaranteed to cure incurable diseases and afflictions.
‘They forget that Jesus Christ only lost his temper and acted violently once: when driving the money-lenders from the temple. But they are not troubled in the least by the banksters on Wall Street, who hoovered up millions from middle-class Americans, granting the 1 percent a get-out-of-jail-free card to do it all over again.
‘Instead, these evangelists reserve the whip for gays, women who want to control their own bodies, pot smokers, and other “heretics” who are only trying to lead fulfilling lives.
‘They actually work to increase the sum of human suffering. They are peddlers of religious snake oil.’
Falwell Jr has been crucial in marshaling evangelical support for Trump – a task Flynt described as lifting ‘the orange buffoon over the hump in 2016’.
When the 2005 Access Hollywood tape was released, in the closing stages of the 2016 campaign, Falwell Jr reassured evangelicals disgusted by Trump’s boast about ‘grabbing’ women ‘by the p***y’.
Falwell Jr replied: ‘God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer. You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor.’
Flynt, in response to Trump’s comments, dangled $1 million to anyone who could turn over video or audio capturing Trump behaving in an illegal or sexually demeaning manner.
A year later, in October 2017, Flynt put out a $10 million offer for information leading to the impeachment of Trump and his removal from office.
Flynt also saw the downfall of Falwell Jr as the end of a long-running feud with the family.
Falwell Jr’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr, president of Liberty University until his death in 2007, frequently attacked Flynt for his pornography empire.
Flynt retaliated in 1983 by posting a spoof Campari advert, which bore the tagline: ‘You never forget your first time’, and detailed celebrities reminiscing about their first Campari.
Flynt mocked the advert up to take a different interpretation of ‘first time’, and mockingly had Falwell Sr talking about losing his virginity to his mother in an outhouse in Virginia, with a goat looking on.
Falwell Sr sued, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Flynt’s favor on free speech grounds in 1988.
Falwell Sr and Flynt buried the hatchet, however, and even exchanged Christmas cards right until Falwell Sr’s death.
‘It’s possible Jerry Falwell Jr. will find forgiveness from his flock, but even if he doesn’t, the $10 million severance payout from Liberty University will surely ease his pain,’ wrote Flynt.
‘As for the rest of the country, I repeat the sentiment that has guided me for decades: If there were ever to be a Second Coming of Jesus Christ, I have no doubt that his first order of business would be picking up a whip and banishing forever all the hucksters and false prophets who have perverted his message.’