“The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University 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.)”Liberty officials say this was not a suppression of free speech, and also that the group, specifically, was not being punished; they were part of a larger, offending organization. As such, the club could no longer carry the University's name, meet on campus, and advertise for events. According to faculty advisor Maria Childress, implicit in this message is that you cannot be a Christian, a representative of Liberty, and a Democrat all concurrently.
Since the article ran, Democratic reaction has been strong and fierce. Statewide bloggers picked up the news early (Jim White, Barry Butler, Lowell, CobaltVA, StarCityHarbinger), many of which questioned the legality of the move, while one leading Republican statewide blog stated that Democrats were having a hissy fit. Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe held a conference call with Diaz and Childress, in order to stand up for the banished youth. In an updated News & Advance article, Gov. Kaine, another gubernatorial contender, Creigh Deeds, and LG candidate Mike Signer all released statements condemning Liberty's behavior. University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., also released a statement, somewhat of a retraction:
"That club still has the right to exist,“ Falwell said, although it cannot use the university’s name in its activities.I asked a childhood friend and now the state's Young Democrat's Executive Director, Christie Ann Bieber, for her reaction. She states:
“They still can meet on campus,“ in certain rooms, he said. “There is absolutely no animosity at all toward any of these kids.
“They are good, Christian kids who sit with me at ball games. I just hope they find a pro-life family organization to affiliate with so they can be endorsed by Liberty again.“
I am deeply saddened by the University's position that Christianity and the view of the Democratic Party are diametrically opposed to one another. The Baptist church I grew up in taught me the principles of love, tolerance, and helping those that are less fortunate. Democrats are not more or less sinful than Republicans. We are all sinners, and we will all be held accountable for our sins by God. Choosing to shut out the Young Democrats on the Liberty campus will not stop students from questioning how their faith aligns with politics. In fact, I believe it will lead to them asking that of themselves even more. Through questioning our beliefs and seeking the truth our faith will grow stronger.
There can be not doubt that Liberty suffered a black-eye today, and in reaction to the public backlash, they went into damage control mode, half-heartedly rescinding their banishment. I, however, get agitated when Christianity is boiled down to the issues of abortion and homesexuality - while there are legitimate disagreements therein - despite the more pronounced biblical and gospel calls for a loving, peaceful, and tolerant behavioral ethic. And, I can't wrap my mind around why the campus chapter, who broke with the national party over these issues, was punished for the "sins" of the national party, if not for outright political motives. Both are shameful actions, and the younger generations, because of these types of actions, are leaving the Christian faith - becoming 'nones' - and the Republican party in droves. Actions like this, fairly or unfairly, are long-term losing strategies for the conservative movement and the Republican party.
This past weekend, Obama called for open hearts, open minds, and fair-minded words when dialoging over these issues. Liberty University, sadly, missed or misunderstood this point.