On Liberty University’s Short-Sightedness

Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, has banned its College Democrats Club, because “the Democratic party violates the school’s principles by supporting abortion, socialism and the agenda of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.”

My instant reaction?

Liberty University had enough Democrats for a College Democrats Club?

I used to live in Lynchburg. I knew Jerry Falwell, I met him a few times, I’ve spoken with him personally. I have friends that attended Liberty. I won’t say that Liberty is hardcore conservative, because it’s not. I think it might be easier to find an atheist at Liberty than it would be to find a Democrat.

Jerry Falwell is rolling in his grave right now. No, Falwell would not have approved of the stances of the Democratic Party. But Falwell also understood the need for dialogue. You don’t fight ideas by banning the speech. You fight the ideas with more speech.

There’s something interesting about Liberty University that I’ll share.

In the early 90s, I needed to use their library for some research. Liberty has a nice library, and one thing that struck me as interesting was the bookplates in each book. I’m paraphrasing from memory here — “While the contents of this book may not conform to the teachings of the Baptist Church and Liberty University, this book represents a viewpoint that one should approach with an open mind in the quest for truth.” I thought that was pretty remarkable. It was an acknowledgement that the way to challenge ideas is to be exposed to them, not by locking them away.

Banning the College Democrats Club? That’s not keeping an open mind at Liberty.

Jerry Falwell would not approve of this.

2 thoughts on “On Liberty University’s Short-Sightedness

  1. I read Falwell, Jr.’s statement and yes, he didn’t ban them from campus; rather, because of the College Democrats Club’s alignment with the Democratic Party and the 2008 party platform (which, I should point out, is mischaracterized by Falwell, Jr.), the organization can’t be officially recognized on campus. I also saw that if the College Democrats align themselves with Democrats for Life, a pro-life splinter group, then they can be officially recognized on campus like the College Republicans.

    I’m not sure how this is any better. It’s still delimiting free expression. Yes, they’re not being prevented from meeting, but they are being told that they need to meet certain preconditions and positions that, at least according to the Richmond Times-Disgrace article I was reading this afternoon, simply aren’t acceptable to the members of Liberty’s nascent College Democrats Club.

    And I’m not sure that Falwell, Jr. did himself any favors with his statement. He still comes across as narrow-minded and intolerant.

    I stand by my conclusion of Saturday — the actions Liberty University have taken are not promoting open minds and the free expression of ideas.

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