Former President Jimmy Carter, 93, sits for an interview about his new book, "Faith: A Journey For All," which will debut at No. 7 on The New York Times best-sellers list, pictured before a book signing on April 11, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Jimmy Carter gently jabs Trump at Liberty commencement

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — Former President Carter took a gentle poke at President Trump at the start of a commencement address to graduates of Liberty University in Virginia.

Taking the podium Saturday (May 19) to a standing ovation a year after Trump spoke to Liberty graduates, Carter took note of the large crowd at the university stadium. He said Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. “told me before we came here that it’s even bigger — I hate to say this — than it was last year.”

“I don’t know if President Trump would admit that or not,” Carter said, drawing laughter. The remark harked back to controversies over Trump’s claim of a massive inauguration crowd exceeding 1 million, despite photographic evidence suggesting otherwise.

Carter is the third U.S. president, and the first Democrat, Liberty has hosted for commencement. George H.W. Bush gave the keynote in 1990. The university is a hub for conservative politics, often frequented by candidates courting evangelical voters. Carter is an evangelical as well, but with more liberal views.

The bulk of Carter’s speech emphasized broad themes of human rights and equality. He said he now believes the greatest global challenge is “discrimination against women and girls in the world.” He noted the killings of newborn girls around the world where families have preference for boys, as well as global sex trafficking networks.

He called on Christians in general, and Baptists in particular, to emphasize their commonalities as opposed to their differences. Both Carter and Falwell are Baptists.

Carter alluded to nuclear tension over North Korea and Iran. The example of Jesus Christ, he said, shows we need to learn “to get along with our potential enemies, instead of how we can prevail in combat.”

“We don’t need enemies to fight, nor do we need inferior peoples whom we can dominate,” Carter said.


  1. A decent and courageous man.

    The sort of man that a god could be proud to have made.

  2. I have to admit that I was surprised Falwell, Jr. extended the invitation to Jimmy Carter. It was a commendable choice, the first commendable thing I can think of that Falwell has ever done. From the reporting in this article it would seem that Carter’s speech was pitch perfect.

  3. He’s always remembered for the Iranian Hostage crisis and his “crisis of confidence” speech, but he had some real accomplishments, too. One was the deregulation of interstate natural gas markets.

  4. That’s a message of compassion, love, and brotherhood… Carter was very brave to offer it to a tough audience like Liberty U.

  5. There’s nothing modern American Christians hate more than a man of peace.

  6. Reviewing their Christian agenda and curriculum, the notion they were “a tough audience” seems rather fantastic.

  7. To be fair I’m certain many American Christians do not enjoy the current “empty vessels”‘s rhetoric – nor do they fully share the aims of those who so aggressively deny the teachings of the man they so loudly claim to follow.

    There are decent people within most (all?) churches – the problem is that they are “in the church” and are therefore trained to accept irrationality and hopelessly optimistic wishful-thinking.

    If you persuade people to worship a psychopath they are going to vote for one aren’t they – not to do so would be to criticise/reject the nature of their imaginary God – and because he loves them so perfectly they might end up in their imaginary Hell.

  8. Reviewing Liberty U’s Christian agenda, the notion that they would have any interest in compassion, love, and brotherhood is what seems fantastic.

  9. Who is the “psychopath” you are referring to?

  10. please don’t confuse the loud noise makers with “modern American Christians” .

  11. Carter is much more of a Christian then any other president in my nearly seven decades on Earth. He kept us out of war and did not fill the air waves with a lot of bluster that many mistake for leadership.

  12. Some people’s twisted image of a non-existent deity.

  13. I don’t see that, and I visited their website before making my comment.

    Here is their website:

    Perhaps you can point something out supporting your apparently negative impression of the university.

    In fact, simply inviting Jimmy Carter on their part seems to belie your argument.

  14. it was less anti trump views that the visiting minister had than anti falwell views .

  15. These days its six of one, half a dozen of another.

  16. the invitation to carter and the previous one (2115) to sanders does not suggest their purpose other than in their educational goals they want to expose their students to what they should oppose .

  17. Nor does the invitation to Carter suggest that their purpose was to present Carter as what they should oppose.

    Guesses are fine but they prove only that you have an imagination.

  18. Good for Jimmy Carter. He was a far better president than the buffoon now in the White House ever will be.

  19. The “professor” was in fact a political journalist:

    and he was removed from the private campus because he was there to “meet with students and alumni to organize a prayer gathering in protest of the school and its leader’s political activity”, which required prior approval for doing this on the privately-owned campus.

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