Home / News / Liberty University students appalled over choice of Romney as commencement speaker; students say Liberty should have gotten a "real Christian"–one student withdraws from the school
Liberty University students appalled over choice of Romney as commencement speaker; students say Liberty should have gotten a "real Christian"–one student withdraws from the school

Liberty University students appalled over choice of Romney as commencement speaker; students say Liberty should have gotten a "real Christian"–one student withdraws from the school

Liberty University is getting a bit of a reputation for being a hotbed of controversy–first over Liberty's decision to allow controversial conservative pastor Mark Driscoll to speak there earlier in the month, and now for Liberty's choice to have GOP presidential hopeful (and Mormon) Mitt Romney give the 2012 commencement speech scheduled for May 12.    Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., gave the following announcement:

In announcing Romney’s visit on Thursday, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. likened Romney’s visit to those of past Republican presidents.

“We are delighted that Governor Romney will join us to celebrate Commencement with Liberty’s 2012 graduates,” he said in a statement. “This will be a historic event for Liberty University reminiscent of the visits of Governor, and then presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan to Liberty’s campus in 1980 and of President George H.W. Bush who spoke at Liberty’s 1990 Commencement ceremony.”

Some students are charging that Liberty is violating its own Christian teachings by allowing Romney to speak there.  CNN adds:

By Friday morning, more than 700 comments had been posted on the school's Facebook page about the Thursday announcement – a majority of them decidedly against the Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.’s invitation, citing that the school had taught them Mormonism isn’t part of the Christian faith.

“I can’t support Romney and I am happy I decided not to walk (in the commencement) this year,” wrote student Josh Bergmann. “Liberty University should have gotten a Christian to speak not someone who practices a cult. Shame on you Liberty University.”

Janet Loeffler, a 53-year-old freshman at Liberty, expressed her anger at the decision when contacted by CNN. She also sent a copy of the page of the freshman textbook “The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics” which includes the passage, “Mormon doctrine stands in stark contrast to Jewish and Christian monotheism, which teaches that there is only one true God and that every other ‘God’ is a false god.”

The Boston Globe reports that Romney is hoping to consolidate his conservative GOP base with the commencement speech; however, that may already be happening.  The Washington Post cites a poll by the Pew Research Forum that has Romney with a huge edge among white Catholic and evangelical voters (73 percent to 20 percent).    If the outrage at Liberty spreads, Romney may lose that edge.  In a YouTube video posted yesterday that has at this time only one view, a Liberty University student who calls himself "will39family" announces his withdrawal from the school because Romney is speaking there:

With drawing from Liberty University after I discovered that our mormon presidential candidate Gov Romney is delivering a commencement address at the university on 12 May. I strongly believe that our Christian leadership has a responsiblity to put Christian leaders behind the pulpit AND podium to address our Christian graduates. By virtue of the fact that we're Christians and know what God's word says, means that we're double accoutable for compromising God's will/word. God bless you.

In the student's video below, the student explains why he chose Liberty, after "prayer and discernment," and how he felt called by God to withdraw because he feels Liberty is straying from their Christian calling by approaching Romney to ask him to speak there.  Allow a moment or two for the video to load:

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • joe paterno

    If it makes any of the above students feel better, I'm not sure that any of the previous speakers were Christians either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Elder-White/1355401741 Amy Elder White

    Wow, what a bunch of haters? You can't listen to someone you disagree with for ten minutes? Lots of luck in the workplace.

    • joe paterno

      Elder White, tis good hearing from you. 

    • Dakotaoleary

      I've found that evangelical Christian universities typically don't have a lot of tolerance for any other religion (or non-religion) besides their own. This is hardly surprising.

  • MrNirom

    Latter-day Saints believe the following:

    Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah. Jesus of Nazareth is the Only Begotten Son of the Father. Jesus was born of a virgin birth to Mary. Jesus is perfect, without sin. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father, but by Him Jesus performed miracles. He: healed the sick, opened eyes of the blind, opened ears of the deaf, forgave sins, cast out demons and evil spirits, changed water into wine, multiplied loaves and fishes, raised the dead. Jesus was foreshadowed by, and fulfilled, the law of Moses. Jesus suffered and died for the sins of all humanity. Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose again. Jesus appeared in resurrected form to Mary, Thomas, the apostles, five hundred brethren at once. Jesus ascended to the Father to sit down on the right hand of His power. Jesus converted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Jesus will come again to reign in glory with all the faithful.

    To be sure, there are doctrinal differences between some Christians and Latter-day Saints. But, this is true of virtually all Christians:

    Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves.

    Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians. If there were no differences in belief at all, it would make little sense to have the hundreds of Christian denominations which exist.

    But, it is insulting and unfair to insist that the LDS do not worship the "same" Jesus as other Christians. By analogy, a Protestant might consider Martin Luther an inspired instrument in the hands of God to reform the wayward Christian Church. A Catholic might rather consider Luther to be a wayward priest who was gravely mistaken. Clearly, the opinions about Luther may differ, but it would be absurd to insist that Catholics and Lutherans are each talking about a different Luther.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCMJ5S4DOL7Y4W6PJQKXLUOSXM Linda

    I bet that within the next 20 years, at least one of these graduates will have joined the LDS church. If they ever get a chance to talk to any real Mormons, and find that our church is nothing like they thought, and everything they have sought in a church.

  • April G.

    @ Amy: For me it is not that I don't want to hear him. It is clear the school is being used for political gain and this is inappropriate.   I would like to hear him speak, but not at my graduation in an election year where he will be a candidate for office. This was to be the end of my educational journey and the beginning of my future. I would not like to have it tainted with political agendas. Like many others I will not be walking this year and will be opting to participate in next years commencement when there will not be a presidential election to overshadow MY accomplishments. "Romney is hoping to consolidate his conservative GOP base with the commencement speech." This is supposed to be about the CLASS of 2012 not the election of 2012.

    • joe paterno

      IMAGINE A SCHOOL BEING USED FOR POLITICAL GAIN!  I'M SHOCKED, I TELL YOU!  SHOCKED!

      • April G.

         I was. My husband tells me this sort of thing is common :(

  • Pingback: 23 April 2012 | MormonVoices

  • RaymondSwenson

    One of the purposrs of a university education is to prepare students to be contributing members of a larger, pluralistic society of people from many races, ethnicities, religions and political viewpoints. Claiming you can only listen to someone who agrees with your own religious beliefs is like saying you are not going to listen to Einstein or Archimedes or Sun Tsu. It is also a failure to recognize that in the world of democratic politics, you achieve your goals by finding common ground with people of diverse religious beliefs. The only alternative.is an infinite cycle of secession from human contact, until your society is just yourself. Governor Romney is NOT going to preach Mormonism at Liberty University. He is going to speak to oyr common concerns as Americans who are concerned about liberty and the encroachment on liberty that results from increasing the power of government as Barack Obama has done. If you are more than just an Evangelucal, if you are also an American, then you should come to hear what Romney has to say.
    If you persist in your religioys prejudice, how could you ever serve in the US Armed Forces? It has officers of every religion, and if you cannot listen to a Mormon, a Jew or a Buddhist officer, you are not suited to defend America. If you reject the full citizenship of people who are not in your religion, how could you ever lead men into battle? Are you an American, or not?

    • joe paterno

      I refuse to listen to Einstein.  He's had way too much press already.

  • NamVet_Exmo

    Following are "word for word" quotes from different Mormon Prophets concerning other christian churches, which would include Liberty University:

    Joseph Smith (First Prophet of the Mormon Church from Apr. 6, 1830 to Jun. 27, 1844 ) said,
    "What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation?  IT IS THAT SMOOTH SOPHISTICATED INFLUENCE OF THE DEVIL, by which he deceives the whole world."  (emphasis added) (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 270)
    __________________________________
    Brigham Young (Second Prophet of the Mormon Church from Dec. 27, 1847 to Aug. 29, 1877) said,
    "Brother Taylor (Third Prophet of the Mormon Church) has just said that THE RELIGIONS OF THE DAY WERE HATCHED IN HELL.  The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth."  (emphasis added) (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 176)
    __________________________________
    John Taylor (Third Prophet of the Mormon Church from Oct. 10, 1880 to Jul. 25, 1887) said,
    ""What does the Christian world know about God?  NOTHING…WHY SO FAR AS THE THINGS OF GOD ARE CONCERNED, THEY ARE THE VERIEST FOOLS; they know neither God nor the things of God."  (emphasis added) (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 225)
    __________________________________
    Wilford Woodruff (Fourth Prophet of the Mormon Church from from Apr. 7, 1889 to Sept. 2, 1898) said,
    "The Gospel of MODERN CHRISTENDOM SHUTS UP THE LORD, and stops all communication with Him.  I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the gospel of the dark ages, so called."  (emphasis added)  (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 196)
    _________________________________
    Joseph Fielding Smith (Tenth Prophet of the Mormon from Jan. 23, 1970 to Jul 2, 1972) said,
    "…Joseph Smith declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that ALL THE "CHRISTIAN' CHURCHES WERE IN ERROR, TEACHING FOR COMMANDMENTS THE DOCTRINES OF MEN."  (emphasis added) (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 282)
    __________________________________
    Spencer W. Kimball (12th Prophet of the Mormon Church from Dec. 30, 1973 to Nov. 5, 1985) said,
    "This (The Mormon Church) IS THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH….This is the Church of Jesus Christ.  There are churches of men all over the land and….THEY ARE CHURCHES OF MEN. They teach the doctrines of men,…"  (emphasis added) (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 421)

    • joe paterno

      LORD!  HELP ME SEPARATE THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF!

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