liberty university

What I Learned When Donald Trump Spoke at My Christian College

Donald Trump

Donald Trump at the Republican debate Dec. 14. in Las Vegas, Nev.  Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

This week at Liberty University, Donald Trump was given a platform to address evangelicals. Much has been written on why Donald Trump is patently unqualified to be speaking on a day where we celebrate the lasting impact of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against oppression. His racist and xenophobic policy proposals include mass deportations, barring Muslims from travelling to the United States, and creating a registry to monitor Muslims in America. Lending legitimacy to him is entirely contradictory to the life and mission of Martin Luther King Jr.

'I Will Protect Christians,' Donald Trump Tells Students at Liberty University

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Just weeks before the Iowa caucus, GOP presidential contender Donald Trump is aiming his proudly “politically incorrect” anger and his pledge to be “great!” directly at evangelical Christians. “I’m going to protect Christians,” who are losing their power in American society, he said Jan. 18, addressing 100,000 Liberty University students — packed in the Lynchburg, Va., campus sports arena or viewing online.

I'm a Seminary Student at Liberty University. Here's Why Falwell's Comments Concern Me.

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I love my school, and Liberty is not a monolithic place — there are a diversity of worldviews and backgrounds here, and not every student is happy about Falwell’s sentiments. I have met many students and faculty who have helped me develop as a Christian, an academic, and a person. And I applaud the school’s response to the families of the victims of the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. Hopefully by reaching out to them, Falwell can still bring some sense of healing to the situation.

But I feel I need to speak out on this issue. I believe opportunistic pro-gun rhetoric is deeply devastating to the Christian message.

SIGN ON: College Students of Faith Say 'No' to Falwell's Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

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An alarming wave of Islamophobia is sweeping our nation, and we are troubled by the participation of Christians. Our diverse gifts and perspectives as a community of faith and learning lead us to a common commitment to work for justice, inclusion, and equality. We repudiate the hostility and hatred aimed at Muslims in and beyond our own communities. 

We pledge to challenge Islamophobia whenever and wherever it occurs, including on our own campuses — to foster relationships with Muslims based on friendship and not fear, and to serve the common good by maintaining a firm commitment to racial and religious diversity. 

ADD YOUR NAME HERE

No, Falwell, We Don't Need Christian Students Forming Anti-Muslim Gun Patrols

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According to the Washington Post:

“If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now …,” he said while being interrupted by louder cheers and clapping. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, chuckling.

“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he says, the rest of his sentence drowned out by loud applause while he said, “and killed them.”

“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

A Christian leader, at one of the most influential evangelical colleges, told a basketball arena full of 18–22 year olds to get guns and carry them around in their back pockets in order to take on any radical Muslims that might make their way down to Lynchburg, Va.

'Stand With the Poor,' Sanders Tells Students at Liberty University

Image via Joshua Roberts/REUTERS/RNS

Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke Sept. 14 at an evangelical school where he framed his fight against wealth and income inequality in terms of morality and justice.

Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic presidential nomination, conceded that many in the audience at Liberty University disagree with his support for abortion rights and gay marriage. But he suggested they might agree that, at a time when “a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension,” other people shouldn’t have to struggle to feed their families, put a roof over their heads, or visit a doctor.

“When we talk about morality and when we talk about justice, we have to, in my view, understand that there is no justice when so few have so much and so many have so little,” he said to applause from the audience of nearly 12,000.

Bernie and the Baptists: Why Sanders, Jewish and a Socialist, Will Speak at Falwell’s Liberty University

Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I -Vermont) speaks at a presidential campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo via Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

The huge Lynchburg, Virginia, campus was started by the late Jerry Falwell, founder of Moral Majority, one of the main engines behind the launch of the religious right, and it is currently headed by Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell, Jr.

It’s also become a key venue for Republican candidates looking to shore up their bona fides with key evangelical Christian voters.

So why did Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, accept Falwell’s invitation to address upwards of 12,000 students and faculty on Sept. 14?

Next Up at Liberty University: Jeb Bush

Photo via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. Photo via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

Jeb Bush will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University on May 9, becoming the second GOP presidential contender to speak at the Christian school this year.

“Throughout his years of public service, Governor Bush has been a champion of excellence in education and so many other issues of vital importance to our university community,” President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement about the college’s 42nd commencement exercises.

Bush, a former Florida governor, has all but declared he will seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the first Republican to formally enter the field, and kicked off his campaign with a speech at Liberty’s convocation on March 23.

Gov. Bobby Jindal to Keynote Liberty University's Commencement Ceremony

Gov. Bobby Jindal at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, widely considered a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, will be the commencement speaker at Liberty University on May 10.

“Many believe [Jindal] could hold the highest office in the land someday,” Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

In an interview, Falwell was hesitant to give his personal opinion of Jindal since the two men have never met. Instead, he deferred to Liberty’s law school dean, Mat Staver.

“He’s a committed Christian,” Falwell said. “Mat Staver said he heard him speak and he sounded like a Baptist preacher.”

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