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The Politics of Liberty University

4 years ago
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It was all a misunderstanding. In an op-ed in the Christian News Wire, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Chancellor and President of Liberty University, said reports that the Democratic Party club at the Lynchburg, Va., school was forced off campus were "spun out of control."

"The University has not banned Democrats from campus. Nor has the Democrat club been banned from meeting. And, never has the University or its' officials said that a person cannot be a Christian and a Democrat," the release said. However, the university has removed the club's "official recognition status."

The students' support of the Democratic platform conflicts with the school's "Christian identity and mission," according to Falwell. "Liberty University will not lend its' name or financial support to undermine marriage or to promote abortion."

The college Democrats, who support a traditional view on marriage and are pro-life, found out about the decision in an e-mail, according to Brian Diaz, club president.

"We are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by Liberty University," said the e-mail from Mark Pine, Vice President of student affairs. "The Democratic Party Platform is contrary to the mission of LU and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the 'LGBT' agenda, Hate Crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc)."

College Democrats are now considering their options, but according to a report in the Lynchburg News and Advance, they are reluctant to accept a Liberty University proposal to align with the pro-life Democrats for Life.

Liberty University, just like any religious university, is certainly free to make its own rules.

While following Mike Huckabee across South Carolina in his quest to win that state's primary last time around, I watched as he and his wife were blessed by the head of North Greenville University in Tigerville, where a campus monument reads: "Where Christ makes the difference." I was told faculty members had to be Christian.

What is the role of a university – to teach or to challenge? Can a school do both?

What is the value of dialogue with those who disagree?

And at what point does compromise become betraying core principles?

Recalling the recent controversy among Catholics and everybody else over President Obama's graduation appearance and honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame, it's clear that questions about the education experience at religious institutions – in and out of the classroom -- have just begun.

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