ON September 14, Senator Bernie Sanders went to Liberty University, a private institution with strong conservative Christian leanings. It was a surprising move for the liberal Jewish candidate, but he was determined to spread his message to more than just his own base. After graciously receiving a Liberty University jersey from Jerry Falwell, Jr., he addressed his audience.
He got the biggest issues of contention out of the way immediately, noting that he held differing views on abortion and gay rights than many of the students probably did. However, he quickly went on to say that he believes it is hugely important to engage in civil discourse with those on the opposite side of the aisle. Furthermore, he said he believes there are issues more pressing than abortion and gay rights that he and conservatives can agree on and that they should work together to find solutions.
At this point in the speech, the crowd applauded loudly; this continued intermittently throughout the speech. He spent a long time discussing the disparity between the richest and poorest people in the country, noting that the top .1 percent hold as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
He also garnered great applause by invoking the Golden Rule mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and the exhortation in Amos for justice to roll like a mighty river and righteousness like a falling stream. Additionally, he quoted extensively from Pope Francis, demonstrating the powerful role that socially conscious Christians can have on public policy.