SIEGEL: Jerry Falwell Jr. wrongs Liberty University by praising Trump

Both Corinthians would be very disappointed in him

In January of this year, Donald Trump paid a visit to Liberty University in an attempt to rally Republican evangelicals to his campaign. He started his speech by incorrectly reciting a verse from the Bible, saying “Two Corinthians” in an attempt to refer to “Second Corinthians.” The crowd responded with muddled laughter. The university’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., gave a rather embellished introduction to the Republican nominee, praising him and all his endeavors as a businessman and donor. He even related Trump to his father. While he mentioned this praise should not be interpreted as an endorsement, it is hard to see it as anything else. Furthermore, Falwell has continued to show his support despite the leaked video of Trump’s alleged sexual assaults on women in the past years. Falwell should not use his national platform as a means to vocalize his support of candidate Trump, as he is misrepresenting Liberty University and miscommunicating the mission of the school.

Falwell, leader of the world’s largest Christian university, is using his national presence to endorse Trump. In an interview with CNN this past Wednesday, Falwell expressed his explicit support on live television: “I’m gonna vote for Donald Trump ’cause I believe he is the best qualified to be president of the United States.” While he most definitely has the right to express his opinion, as everyone does, he must remember his position and how his endorsement reflects upon the school, which he spearheads. Following Falwell’s comments on the upcoming election, Liberty students formed a group called Liberty United Against Trump with the intent to disassociate themselves from the endorsement. The group contends in their statement on the matter that “Trump received a pitiful 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia’s primary election, a colossal rejection of his campaign.” In the midst of this atypical election, to say the least, the group wishes to “regain the integrity of [their] school.” It is unprofessional for Falwell to take such a stance, as he should directly reflect the thoughts of the school that he champions.

Furthermore, there exists a level of hypocrisy between the mission of Liberty and that of Trump, so it is astonishing that the biggest advocate of the university and its mission would fully support Trump’s views. Liberty’s mission statement pledges the school will “encourage a commitment to the Christian life, one of personal integrity, sensitivity to the needs of others, [and] social responsibility.” I would not call Trump’s plan to implement a wall around our borders so we may completely “stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic” an act characterized by sensitivity. Falwell, lifelong devout Christian and advocate of the Christian worldview, seems extremely willing to ignore Trump’s past, and present, of lying, misogyny and bigotry, and take his side in the upcoming election. The Liberty United Against Trump statement highlights this polarity: “Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ… he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

It seems the Republican Party has veered far off of its path, failing to heed tell-tale signs of devolution. Students at universities across the nation notice this though, most noticeably the students at Liberty. Why then, is their president choosing to endorse a president on national television who has contradictory views to the mission of Liberty University? Just this week, Falwell spearheaded an effort to nix an anti-Trump article in the school’s newspaper. His behavior not only goes against the school’s promotion of free expression, but it breaches the student’s rights of the freedom of press, illuminating his inadequate capacity to be president of a university. Let us take note of this conduct and call into question the validity of such an opinion that greatly reflects a larger kinship.

Lucy Siegel is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at l.siegel@cavalierdaily.com.

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