Presidential races

Sanders speaks to Christian conservatives at Liberty Univ.

Bernie Sanders, Liberty University
Liberty University

Sen. Bernie Sanders sought to frame the fight against inequality as a moral obligation in a Monday address to a Christian conservative audience at Liberty University in Virginia.

Quoting scripture at times, the Vermont Independent and self-described Democratic socialist connected issues such as poverty, income disparity and racism with a biblical call for justice and righteousness.

{mosads}“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 during the school’s convocation address.

Convocation is a mandatory assembly that takes place three times a week at the Evangelical college founded by Jerry Falwell, a major player in the Christian conservative movement before his death in 2007.

“If we are honest in striving to be a moral and just society, it is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor, to stand with working people, and when necessary, take on very powerful and wealthy people whose greed, in my view, is doing this country enormous harm.”

Sanders acknowledged right off the bat that his Democratic-socialist bent wouldn’t jibe with the ideals of the majority of the Liberty student body. As MSNBC first reported, the school specifically calls for a “strong commitment to political conservatism [and] total rejection of socialism.”

“It is easy to go out and talk to people who agree with you,” Sanders said.

“It is harder, but not less important, for us to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us on every issue and it is important to see where, if possible, and I do believe its possible, we can find common grounds.”

A small throng of Sanders supporters loudly cheered after most of his points, but his overall reception was much more muted. His calls for common ground and pushing back against racism elicited cheers from a much wider group, but the majority of the crowd remained mum during the portion of his stump speech about economic inequality.

Sanders spent a significant time on his call to protect the vulnerable, whether they are the poor, minorities or youths, and said that the push for family values should prioritize issues like paid family leave.

During a question-and-answer session after the speech, a moderator asked Sanders about why he won’t protect the group that most students feel are among the most vulnerable: The unborn. Sanders noted that he didn’t want to get political, yet bashed conservatives for calling for limited government but increasing restrictions on abortions.

“I respect absolutely a family that says, ‘No, we are not going to have an abortion,’” he said.

“But I would hope that other people respect the very painful and difficult choice that many women feel they have to make and don’t want the government to tell them what they have to do.”

Sanders’s speech comes as he continues to gain steam in the polls. Last week’s CNN/ORC Poll found that he cut Hillary Clinton’s lead in national polls to just 10 percentage points as other polls show an even tighter race in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He’s not the first presidential candidate to speak at Liberty — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched his candidacy from that same convocation stage back in March.


Tags Abortion Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton income inequality Liberty University

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