Liberty University students protest Falwell’s support of Trump
LYNCHBURG, Va. — Students at the largest Christian university in the world are protesting their president’s support of Donald Trump, saying that the Republican presidential nominee “is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”
Some student body members of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, posted a detailed letter taking a stand against their university president ,Jerry Falwell, Jr., an early Trump supporter who has invited political candidates like Trump, Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders and Mike Pence to speak at before his students.
A student group called Liberty United Against Trump published their grievances online.
“We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history,” according to a tweet from the group’s social media coordinator Tyler McNally.
Another member of the group, Dustin Wahl, told CNN in an email that since publishing the letter at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, they had more than 200 signatures from fellow students by Wednesday evening. The students took action so that “the world understands how many Liberty students do not support President Falwell in his endorsement of Donald Trump.”
The letter said that if any Liberty University faculty or staff member had made the comments Trump made on the tape, they would have been terminated.
“Because our president has lead the world to believe that Liberty University supports Donald Trump, we students must take it upon ourselves to make clear that Donald Trump is absolutely opposed to what we believe, and does not have our support,” the letter states.
Falwell Jr. appeared on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front” on Wednesday evening and was asked about the breaking allegations of groping against Trump from The New York Times. The Trump campaign has denied the claims and asked The New York Times for a retraction. Falwell Jr. said that he did not know anything about the reports, and reiterated that the Trump campaign is denying the claims.
“I take him at his word. I think he’s a good man. I know the Donald Trump of today,” he told Erin Burnett. “I know that he was — his first major hire was to bring Mike Pence on as his vice presidential candidate. And he spoke at Liberty University today and he had 10,000 Evangelical Christian young people cheering for him, gave him five standing ovations, and that is the Donald Trump I know.”
Burnett pressed him on whether he could forgive Trump if he had lied about grabbing women’s breasts and genitals.
Falwell said: “It is not up to me to forgive anybody. I’m not Jesus Christ. It is only Jesus who can forgive. And he can forgive anybody. All of us, we’re all redeemable. And like I said, it’s — Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners and when he was here on earth and it is not up to us to forgive. ”
He defended Trump for taking “all the right positions on all the issues.” Burnett played a video clip of Trump at the Fox primary debate last year when Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him about comments he’d made about women in the past.
“I’m a college president. I’m an attorney. He has his own style. He has his own way of saying things. He’s a New York businessman. He grew up in a different culture than I did,” Falwell told CNN. “What sounds raunchy to me might not sound raunchy to him. But the point is, I think he’s a changed man. I think he has seen the pain of the American people. I think the reason that he’s come so far in this campaign, in this election is because he is not for the elitist. He’s for the average American.”
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence spoke at Liberty University’s weekly convocation on Wednesday morning, addressing thousands of students and sharing his personal journey of finding faith and garnering a standing ovation for comments like “I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it.”
Pence even addressed the tapes of Trump making lewd and sexually explicit comments about women that came out on Friday night.
“As a believer we’re called to aspire to live godly lives but also we recognize that we all fall short. It’s not about condoning what is said and done, it’s about believing in graces and forgiveness. As Christians we’re called to forgive even as we’ve been forgiven,” he said to students sitting in sweatshirts in the chilling morning.
Wahl said the student group drafted the letter two days ago.
“We had been planning to make this statement public regardless of Mike Pence, but we timed the launch to fit with the height of conversation about Pence’s convocation,” he said.