Liberty University Alumni Return Diplomas to Protest President Praising Trump

Jerry Falwell Jr. said Trump made a “bold, truthful statement about the Charlottesville tragedy.”

Then U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. at a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Jan. 31, 2016. / REUTERS

A group of Liberty University alumni are preparing to return their diplomas by Sept. 5 to protest leader of the Christian-based university Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support for President Donald Trump, which is “incompatible with a Christian witness,” according to alumni. Meanwhile, Paula White, one of Trump’s spiritual advisors said he has been “authentically raised up by God.”

Falwell, an evangelical Christian, came to the defense of Trump after he was widely criticized for his statements. During a press conference Aug. 15, the president morally equated the actions of white supremacists with those of counter-protesters during a deadly white supremacist demonstration on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va.

Falwell tweeted on Aug. 16:

Falwell told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, “One of the reasons I supported [Trump] is because he doesn’t say what’s politically correct; he says what is in his heart. But he does not have a racist bone in his body.”

Regarding his tweet, he said, “The only groups he identified by name as evil and causing what happened in Charlottesville were the Nazis, KKK and the white supremacists. That’s what I thought was bold and truthful.”

Host Martha Raddatz responded, “Well, let me tell you what he said, though, let’s go back to this. He said there were very fine people on both sides. Do you believe there were very fine people on both sides?”

Fallwell answered, “He has inside information that I don’t have. I don’t know if there were historical purists there who were trying to preserve some statues. I don’t know.”

In an interview with “Fox & Friends” Monday morning, Falwell repeated his statement that Trump “does not have a racist bone in his body.”

“I know him well,” he said. “He loves all people; he’s worked so hard to help minorities in the inner cities, to bring jobs back to them. He says that school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. African American employment has skyrocketed since he became president.”

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Social media users, including the NAACP, corrected Trump’s response to a question asked at the second presidential debate.

In response to Falwell’s appearance on Fox, Trump tweeted:

Alumni of Liberty University, which is located in Lynchburg, Va., have organized a “Return your diploma to LU” group on Facebook that currently has more than 500 members. The organizers point to longstanding frustration with Falwell, from his endorsement of Trump during the presidential campaign — despite the businessman’s 2005 comments against women — to his support of Trump’s statements following the act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville.

Alumni sent a group letter to Falwell asking him to retract his statements. It said, in part, “During the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, white supremacists, nationalists and neo-Nazis perpetrated brutal violence against anti-racist protesters, murdering one woman and injuring many. Instead of condemning racist and white nationalist ideologies, Mr. Trump provided equivocal and contradictory comments.” They said Falwell’s statements in defense of Trump are “incompatible with Liberty University’s stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness.”

Falwell told the Associated Press on Monday that the alumni protest is “all just grandstanding.”

In a statement, the university, founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell Sr., where Trump gave a commencement address in May, said it strongly supports the right of students to express their political opinion but also noted that the diplomas “are quite helpful” in getting them a job with a high salary.

“The tactic of returning diplomas has been used by students of many other schools to draw attention to various causes, but let’s also remember that those same diplomas are quite helpful in helping these graduates secure well-paying jobs,” the university said.

Trump ‘Authentically Raised Up by God’

Falwell is among a number of evangelicals standing up for Trump, including Paula White. The televangelist and one of Trump’s spiritual advisors said on Tuesday that he has been “authentically raised up by God.”

“They say about our president, ‘Well, he is not presidential.’ Thank goodness. Thank goodness. Thank goodness,” White said on the PTL Network’s “Jim Bakker Show.”

“And I mean that with all due respect. Because, in other words, he is not a polished politician. In other words, he is authentically — whether people like it or not — has been raised up by God.

“Because God says that he raises up and places all people in places of authority,” she continued. “It is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down. When you fight against the plan of God, you are fighting against the hand of God.”

However, there are spiritual leaders who do not see Trump as “authentically raised up by God.” Last week, New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard decided to leave Trump’s unofficial evangelical advisory board.

Bernard tweeted a statement on Friday, saying that after having distanced himself for several months “it became obvious that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.”

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  • How can Falwell possibly head a University if he does not understand that returning ones diploma does not equate with returning ones degree?

  • William Daniel

    Our president is not Christian. Christians do not slander, they do not sexually assault women, they do not use profanity, they do not show disrespect to our allied nations, they do not daily ridicule others for simply stating their opinions, and they do not disrespect the Constitution. In fact, real Christians probably do not do most of the things that our president does as his daily routine. Trump needs to either change his ways, or get out of the While House.

  • “Because God says that he raises up and places all people in places of authority,” she [Paula White] continued. “It is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down. When you fight against the plan of God, you are fighting against the hand of God.” Funny how this applies where Trump is concerned, but wasn’t mentioned when Obama was president. Love the blatant hypocrisy!

  • Jerry Falwell Jr. epitomizes what is true about too many Conservative Christians, namely that their true religion is conservatism, not Christianity.

    • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

      That’s churchianity, not Christianity: worship of the established religious and civic order, rather than speaking truth to power and taking the consequences as our Savior did and calls us to do.

  • Nothing gets me more than someone who says, “I’m a Christian” to support their inappropriate behavior you may be questioning, or to add some authority to anything they say or do. My response is, but what you did (or what you plan to do) is it Christ-like? And forget that most world religions have spiritual guidance that include some variation of the Golden Rule. Pasting a label on something, or someone, doesn’t describe its contents.

    • “I’m a Christian,” and the Jerry Falwell Juniors, Paula Whites, Franklin Grahams, Robert Jeffuses and other so-called Christian leaders do not speak for all Christians when they endorse and support non-Christ-like behavior.

  • If you have nothing positive to add, nothing that will invoke change that unites people, you should keep your comments to yourself, especially if you profess to be a Christian. Hypocrisy is not part of the character of a Christian, if you weren’t aware, so praising it makes you one of the same.

    • I’m a true, born- again African American believer in Jesus and I know white racists even while they pretend to be “Christians.” Paula White, the Fallwells, David Jeremiah, Robert Jeffress and others are white, lying, racist sons and daughters of other GERMan Nazis and white supremacists who claimed to be Christian: Hitler and tRump.

      Sniffing out white “Christian” racists like you Sal (and the others listed above) is like the smell of dead rats– easily distinguished. As a college- educated Black lawyer, I have long since REJECTED your WHITEWASHED lies about Christianity and how WHITE LIARS have mischaracterized Jesus as an effeminate, pasty who never took a whip and drove out money-grubbing, religious Pharisaic hypocrites like Jezebel Paula White, Snake-eyed Joel Osteen, Falwell, Jeffress, Jeremiah, Creflo $$Dollar $$, Bakker, Copeland, Hagee, and TD Jakes from the temple. When HE and Paul called Pharisees and Sadducees “WHITED sepulchres” (graves) full of dead men’s bones and a “GENERATION OF VIPERS,” were they being mean-spirited or righteously exposing those charlatans!

      You’re one of those wolves who are hiding in the church hoping that on your way to Hell, you might land on top of Paula White.

      We’re commanded to expose all the above hypocrites who will send more people to Hell with them than Hitler.

  • What will returning your diploma to Liberty prove? If Liberty alumni want to make a statement, they can stop donating to the school and avoid sending their children to Liberty. Instead of mailing their overpriced sheep skins, set up a voter registration drive in your area.
    Falwell and #45 never tried to hide their biases or prejudices.
    Why is everyone surprised now?
    Vote right next time!

  • Alumni need to exercise the power of the purse strings. When asked for donations they should return their blank pledge cards with a note, explaining why they will not contribute a dime.

  • Falwell Sr. was a misguided idiot, and the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree for Falwell Jr.

  • As an African American female lawyer, I graduated from a so-called Baptist, predominately white “Christian” university in Houston, TX. In my experience there, I know that a “white Christian” is an OXyMORON! It’s also a LIE dressed in Truth’s clothing.

    Jerry Falwell intentionally chose LYNCHburg as Liberty’s home base. His brainwashed son continues his tradition of lynching the gospel truth. Paula White, a lying Mississippian money-grubbing Southern belle whore has been on the receiving end of what has been “RAISED UP” in tRUMP’s pants. He “laid hands on her” [read: p*ssy-grabbing], paid for her plastic surgery and new teeth which probably (along with her charlatan bosom buddy, Benny Hinn) caused her divorce.

    Jim Bakker, another church whore and pimp, caught in an extramarital affair [causing a massive mascara spill across TV’s from his Adams Family-looking wife, Tammy Faye], who wants to pimp the tRUMP presidency is the perfect partner for the veiled Mississippi racist Paula White.

    Because tRump is a mad tweeter, he surrounds himself with Fallwell and snow White flakes like Paula, KKK and Nazis. Like former brutal, terrorist slaveowners and pedophile rapist presidents Washington and Jefferson (and Jefferson Davis), tRUMP could screw his black Aunt Jemima Omarosa at night, and advocate for the KKK by day. Jefferson and other slave owners considered Black slaves as ANIMALS; they would rather admit to practicing BESTIALITY (with so-called Black slave ANIMALS) than having normal sex with a Black female human being. Psychotic!

    I doubt if any “spiritual” advising is going on between White supremacist Paula and tRUMP. Jerry Fallwell, Jr. will be handing out tRUMP prayer cloths [for a donation] to other white male supremacist “Christian” ejaculators. Paula White will be preaching on “Pro$perity P–$$y”: How to Become Highly Favored to Get Your Bo’Ass” to her female parishioners.

    I’d like to collect the Liberty Univ. degrees as fuel to have a Paula White Mississippi-style hoe-down, pig-eating, pork-cracklin’-eating BBQ.

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