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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 18, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 38
Bernie Sanders at Liberty University: 'I believe in Gay rights and Gay marriage.'
Section One
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Bernie Sanders at Liberty University: 'I believe in Gay rights and Gay marriage.'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders challenged Christian fundamentalists to join with him to fight social inequality in a speech at Liberty University September 14.

The school - founded by anti-Gay fundamentalist Jerry Falwell in 1971 and now run by his son Jerry Jr. - seems like an odd venue for a self-described socialist like Sanders, and he wasted no time in laying down his political markers.

'The views that many at Liberty University have, and I have, on a number of important issues are very, very different,' Sanders said. 'I believe in women's rights and the right of a woman to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. Those are my views and it is no secret.'

Sanders was cheered by a small group of supporters who had gotten into the event, while most of the crowd of 10,000 sat silent.

Sanders then challenged the Southern Baptist Liberty students to join him in a campaign against what he called 'rampant injustice.'

'I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to you and that we disagree on those issues. I get that,' he said.

'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.'

Sanders, who is Jewish, quoted Bible verses - from both the Old and New Testament - to emphasize the religious basis for social justice concerns.

While most Liberty students listened quietly to Sanders' speech, they became enthusiastic when he was challenged during the question-and-answer period.

Liberty University Vice President David Nasser asked Sanders directly to 'reconcile' his view that he wants to safeguard the most vulnerable without protecting 'the child in the womb.' Applause erupted from the crowd.

'I do understand and I do believe that it is improper for the United States government to tell every woman in this country the very painful and difficult choice she has to make on that issue,' Sanders replied.

'And I honestly, I don't want to be too provocative here, but very often conservatives say, 'Get the government out of my life, I don't want the government telling me what to do.' '

Sanders was also asked what he would do to end racism.

'I would hope and I believe that every person in this room today understands that it is unacceptable to judge people, to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin,' Sanders said to applause.

'And I would also say that as a nation - the truth is ... a nation which in many ways was created, and I'm sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles, that's a fact - we have come a long way as a nation.'

Jerry Falwell, Jr., praised Sanders for not shying away from sensitive issues and addressing them respectfully with his student body. Falwell said he has invited other candidates to speak to his students, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He expects both to soon address a weekly convocation, which students are required to attend.

'We're starting to get a little response from [Clinton's] campaign, and it looks like it might materialize,' Falwell said.

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