A Socialist at Liberty University

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Bernie Sanders is speaking right now at the Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell, the far-right televangelist.  A reader comments on the ostensible contradiction here:

I’m excited to see Bernie going into Liberty U to appeal to an audience not naturally appealed to by liberals. I hope he is able to articulate to the students the history of Christians being at the forefront of social justice in this country. Christian thought is very much concerned with those on the margins of society—a concern shared by secular progressive-minded people such as myself.

Of course on social issues such as gay marriage, there may always be a gulf between the religious and the secular, but I believe Bernie will explain how a secular society protecting LGBT rights is also critical to protecting religious freedom from opposing ideologies.

More readers reflect on how a far-left candidate can appeal to evangelicals:

Bernie Sanders constantly emphasizes that the political revolution is about bringing people together. Like Jesus, he recognizes the common humanity of ALL people. For believers, it means that we are all God's children. This is why Bernie is going to LU. He has a deep faith in the fundamental humanity of everyone. You will notice, that he never has a bad word for anyone, except to condemn the “greed” of the very wealthy. He constantly emphasizes the importance of throwing the money changers out of the temple of our politics.

Another reader quotes from a Sunday op-ed yesterday by Rev. Rich Nathan, senior pastor of Vineyard Columbus, a church of 8,000 attendees in central Ohio:

Bashing immigrants is a poor political strategy, but it also represents a moral failure. As a Christian, I’m compelled to see and talk about each immigrant as a person made in the image of God, with inherent dignity. The Hebrew scriptures are replete with commands from God to his people to love, defend, and seek justice for the ‘foreigner who resides among you.’ In the New Testament, followers of Jesus are commanded to practice philoxenia—in English, hospitality—which literally means the love of strangers. How we welcome a stranger, Jesus says, is how we welcome him.

Yesterday we published an essay from a liberal student at Liberty University; check it out here.