Today, on Martin Luther King Day, Donald Trump will speak at Liberty University as a way to get closer with the Republican Party’s evangelical base. The date isn’t a coincidence, either, as the school’s President Jerry Falwell, Jr. said to a reporter, “We chose that day so that Mr. Trump would have the opportunity to recognize and honor Dr. King on MLK day.”
So there’s no better time to remind everyone that the school’s founder Jerry Falwell, Sr. was hardly a champion of civil rights, including the causes for which King fought. Stephen Prothero, professor of religion at Boston University, explains:
In “Ministers and Marchers,” a 1965 sermon delivered at his Thomas Road Baptist Church the day after King led civil rights marchers from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Falwell suggested that King was a communist.
He also criticized “left-wing” leaders of the “so-called freedom movement” for stirring up hatred and violence. “Preachers are not called to be politicians but to be soul winners,” Falwell concluded.
He eventually reversed course, but not until well after King could have used his support. Beyond that, Falwell was also known to many as a bigot who opposed LGBT rights and women’s rights until the day he died.
Liberty University shouldn’t celebrate King’s birthday by bringing in a racist.
They should spend the day apologizing for Falwell’s opposition to civil rights decades ago and then apologize some more for opposing civil rights today.
To their credit, a handful of students are peacefully protesting the timing of Trump’s speech. But even the school’s own national recruiter, John Wesley Reid, urged people to go after the protesters with silly string.
It’s clear where the loyalties lie for Liberty’s administration and staff. And it makes perfect sense that they’re bringing in Trump since objects at the bottom of a barrel tend to clump together.