School officials at Liberty University are trying to set the record straight on the recent decision to "unrecognize" the campus-based College Democrats.
"Apparently many journalists do not let the facts get in the way of a juicy, agenda-driven story," wrote Jerry Falwell, Jr., chancellor and president of the Lynchburg, Va.-based Christian school, in an Op-Ed released to the media Monday.
"The University has not banned Democrats from campus. Nor has the Democrat club been banned from meeting. And, never has the University or its officials said that a person cannot be a Christian and a Democrat. Sorry for those who want to run with these titillating soundbites, but these are the facts," he added.
According to Falwell, whose father founded LU in 1971, Democratic clubs have existed at Liberty University over the last several decades but as unofficial student clubs not endorsed by the school.
Then, last fall, the College Democrats asked the university to officially recognize their club, thus granting them permission to use Liberty University's name, hold public events on campus, and receive a small financial subsidy that only officially recognized clubs are eligible for.
To be recognized, however, Liberty asked the club to insert two clauses into their constitution – one stating that they are a pro-life organization and the other that they support the traditional view of marriage.
"Being understanding of Liberty's viewpoints and standards, we complied," College Democrats secretary Jan Michael Dervish told The Christian Post.
"We even started a Faith Caucus on the state level through the Virginia Young Democrats to promote faith based issues and solutions to those issues," he added.
Over the last eight months, however, Falwell said the club supported candidates that support abortion rights, including President Barack Obama.
As a result, Liberty University converted the club's status back to that of an unrecognized club and said it would remove the club from the school website. The school also insisted that the group cease its usage of Liberty University's name, including any school logo, seal or mark.
"Liberty University is pro-life and believes that marriage between one man and one woman provides the best environment for children. Liberty University will not lend its name or financial support to any student group that advances causes contrary to its mission," expressed Falwell Monday.
And that applies for all groups – Republican, Democratic, or Independent.
"If a Republican club supporting abortion sought endorsement from the University, it would be denied," stated the Office of the Chancellor in an e-mail that went out to LU students Saturday night.
"The sanctity of life is one of Liberty University's non-negotiable core values and it simply cannot lend its name or financial support to any group that actively works against Liberty's core values," the office stated.
The school is currently holding discussions with leaders of the College Democrats to work out a compromise that will allow the group to once again be sponsored by LU.
Meanwhile, support for the club continues to grow.
Over the past five days, more than 1,200 people have joined the "We Support Liberty University College Democrats" Facebook page though the club's own page has a little more than 120 members.
Petitions, meanwhile, are being circulated by the Virginia Young Democrats and the College Democrats of American Alumni Association.
Though Liberty University began as a small Baptist college, it has grown to become the world's largest and fastest growing evangelical university with more than 50,000 students expected to be in attendance this fall.
Notable alumni include evangelist Franklin Graham, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, and Christian music artists tobyMac, Michael Tait, and Phil Stacey.