Liberty University Students Clash With President Jerry Falwell Jr. Over Support for Donald Trump
A group of students at Liberty University has clashed with the president of the Virginia-based evangelical liberal arts college, Jerry Falwell Jr., over his continued support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump despite recent lurid allegations of sexual assault made against him by multiple women.
A report in The New York Times Wednesday cited two women who accused Trump of inappropriately touching them.
One of the women, Manhattan, New York resident Jessica Leeds, 74, said more than 30 years ago when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Trump sexually assaulted her in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. Leeds who claims what she experienced was an "assault," said Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
"He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."
When asked about the allegations by the Times on Tuesday night, Trump, who the report describes as agitated, flatly denied them and told the reporter: "You are a disgusting human being."
In an interview with CNN Wednesday about the allegations and his continued association with Trump, Falwell, who is also a trained lawyer, said the allegations against Trump does not reflect the man he knows now and he will be voting for the New York billionaire based on the issues.
"Of course I don't know anything about these reports but I know the most recent breaking news the Trump campaign is denying that any of those allegations are true and they are very upset with The New York Times about launching an attack like this and doing it so late in the campaign. I take him at his word. I know he's a good man," Falwell told CNN host Erin Burnett.
"The Donald Trump of today … I think he has been through a change in the last four or five years, he's been influenced strongly by his children, by his grandchildren and I don't think he is the man he used to be. Dr. James Dobson, one of the most respected evangelicals said yesterday that Jesus said 'he who is without sin cast the first stone' and he said 'I'm more concerned about America's future than I am Donald Trump's past' and I agree with that," said Falwell.
When asked if he could forgive Trump if the allegations against him are found to be true, Falwell said, "It's not up to me to forgive anybody. I'm not Jesus Christ."
"It's only Jesus who can forgive and he can forgive anybody. All of us, we're all redeemable and like I said Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners when he was here on earth and it's not up to us to forgive. It's up to us to decide who would be the best president of the United States. Who would take the right position on the issues to make America great again," Falwell continued before declaring his unflinching support for the Republican presidential nominee.
"I'm gonna vote for Donald Trump 'cause I believe he is the best qualified to be President of the United States. And I'm not gonna say anything to besmirch the characters of any of these women. It's the heat of an election, it's four weeks away from Election Day, everybody is in a frenzy so we have to keep that in mind. The New York Times is very anti-Trump," Falwell said.
In a statement released Wednesday, a group of students calling themselves Liberty United Against Trump denounced Falwell for supporting Trump.
"A majority of Liberty students, faculty, and staff feel as we do. Donald Trump received a pitiful 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia's primary election, a colossal rejection of his campaign. Nevertheless, President Falwell eagerly uses his national platform to advocate for Donald Trump. While he occasionally clarifies that supporting Trump is not the official position of Liberty University, he knows it is his title of president of the largest Christian university in the world that gives him political credentials," the statement said in part.
"Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose," it said.
"Because our president has led the world to believe that Liberty University supports Donald Trump, we students must take it upon ourselves to make clear that Donald Trump is absolutely opposed to what we believe, and does not have our support.
"We are not proclaiming our opposition to Donald Trump out of bitterness, but out of a desire to regain the integrity of our school. While our president Jerry Falwell Jr. tours the country championing the log in his eye, we want the world to know how many students oppose him. We don't want to champion Donald Trump; we want only to be champions for Christ," the statement ended.
Dustin Wahl, a junior who was class president as a freshman, told The News Advance that more than 200 students had signed on to the statement by Wednesday night.
"Many of us have been actively involved in efforts in our personal capacity to show we don't support Trump," he said.
The Christian Post contacted Liberty University about the clash of politics between the students and Falwell Thursday but a response was not ready at the time this report was published.
Trump addressed Liberty University at the school's convocation earlier this year after previously speaking at the school in 2012.