Yesterday Liberty University announced that Bernie Sanders is going to speak at one of its weekly Convocations September 14. You heard that right. Brooklyn-born, Vermont-representing, socialist, secular Jewish, Independent, would-be Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is going to speak at the mother ship of the religious right. I for one couldn’t be more excited.
Now you might have thought that Liberty would restrict its speakers to like-minded Christian souls. And indeed, this Fall line-up is pretty darned along those lines, featuring such luminaries as Christian recording artist David Crowder, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson, and the Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint.
But it’s important to recognize the country’s largest evangelical Christian university (if you include the 100,000 online students) is not all about, well, Christians. The line-up also includes former Education Secrectary William J. Bennett, who’s Catholic, and neurosurgeon/president-wannabe Ben Carson, who was disinvited from a Southern Baptist pastors meeting this year because he’s Seventh-Day Adventist. And that’s not to mention Orthodox Jewish rabbi and talk-show host Daniel Lapin.
But Mark, you’re saying, those non-Christians are nothing if not like-minded. Well, then, I give you Virginia Democratic governor and Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe, who accepted a Convocation invitation for last March 23. Unfortunately, that pesky Ted Cruz showed up at Liberty to announce his candidacy for president that very day and McAuliffe pulled out.
Now you’re thinking: The Sanders invitation is all about tweaking Hillary, as well as perhaps assuring Liberty’s non-profit tax exemption by demonstrating that it is no partisan outfit. Whatever, I’ll concede that Bernie is something of a Convocation anomaly. What’s for sure is that he’ll have a big audience, and not just because he’ll be quite the object of curiosity. All students in residence at Liberty are required to attend Convocation. So on Sept. 14 he will face the largest captive audience of the least like-minded folks he’ll address this election season.
I’d advise him to use his time to explain why he’s keeping the flame alive for single-payer health coverage, and why he supports President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as well as his climate change initiative. It may be the first time the students have heard such things. It will be great to see how they react.