Sen. Bernie Sanders’ convocation address at Liberty University this morning was perfect. It was the closest the students will come to hearing a Jewish Old Testament prophet.
While very respectful, Bernie Sanders did not enter their midst in order to flatter. Instead, he challenged the students, faculty, and administration to consider the morality* of such gross inequality that 20% of American children go hungry.
A number of Bernie supporters in the audience cheered and applauded. But when the cameras panned the audience, you could see many still, unresponsive young faces. Perhaps they were letting the words sink in?
While Sanders quoted Pope Francis saying something like, “Money has to serve, not rule.” Maybe He didn’t know, but Baptists don’t cotton to Catholics. There was less applause from everybody.
Still. Sanders was great. And I hope the audience appreciated the principle he displayed just for being there. Liberty routinely invites Democratic presidential candidates to speak, but it is rare that they accept. Bernie, however, took the time, and left his comfort zone, to reach out to the other side. It reminds me of the Parable of the Lost Coin.
*Liberty University was founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1971. Falwell also co-founded the Moral Majority in 1979, which laid the groundwork for the present-day religious far-right.