Sen. Bernie Sanders Tried to Find Common Ground with Students at Liberty University September 14, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders Tried to Find Common Ground with Students at Liberty University

Earlier today, Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders delivered an address at Liberty University, the school founded by the late Jerry Falwell and the place where Sen. Ted Cruz announced his entry into the Presidential race earlier this year.

That seems like an odd venue for Sanders given that people like him are why Liberty University was created in the first place.

But Sanders rose to the challenge, side-stepping more polarizing issues and focusing instead on income inequality. (If you’re wondering about the applause when he’s introduced and when he mentions his stances on abortion and gay marriage, it’s because some of his supporters were allowed in for the event.)

Let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and in fact to the entire world that maybe, just maybe, we do not disagree on. And maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together in trying to resolve them,” Sanders said.

“It would be hard to make the case that we are a just society or anything resembling a just society today,” he continued. “In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant.”

In his first Bible citation, he highlighted Matthew 7:12 — or “the Golden Rule. Do unto others what you would have them do to you. That is the Golden Rule and it is not very complicated.”

He probably didn’t win many votes, but it’s hard to see how even Liberty students could complain about the focus of his message.

It’s not the first time a pro-choice Democrat has spoken at the school, by the way. Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke at Liberty Baptist College (the university’s predecessor) in 1983. Not only was his speech fantastic, both sides shared laughter despite their differences:

Actually, a number of people in Washington were surprised that I was invited to speak here — and even more surprised when I accepted the invitation. They seem to think that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a Kennedy to come to the campus of Liberty Baptist College.

The separation of church and state can sometimes be frustrating for women and men of religious faith. They may be tempted to misuse government in order to impose a value which they cannot persuade others to accept. But once we succumb to that temptation, we step onto a slippery slope where everyone’s freedom is at risk. Those who favor censorship should recall that one of the first books ever burned was the first English translation of the Bible. As President Eisenhower warned in 1953, “Don’t join the book burners…the right to say ideas, the right to record them, and the right to have them accessible to others is unquestioned — or this isn’t America.” And if that right is denied, at some future day the torch can be turned against any other book or any other belief. Let us never forget: Today’s Moral Majority could become tomorrow’s persecuted minority.

(Image via Juli Hansen / Large portions of this article were published earlier)

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