Hundreds Of Christian Students At Liberty University Say 'No' To Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (right) shakes hands with co-headliner Jerry Falwell Jr., leader of America's largest Christian university, during a campaign event at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa, on January 31, 2016.Reuters

Hundreds of students at the top US evangelical Christian university, Liberty, have come out against Donald Trump.

The Republican nominee has been controversially backed by Liberty's own president, Jerry Falwell Jr. 

The students have formed a new group, Liberty United Against Trump. In an open letter that has already had hundreds of endorsements, they say they do not wish to champion Trump. They only want to be champions for Jesus Christ. 

"We Liberty students are often told to support Donald Trump because the other leading candidate is a bad option. Perhaps this is true," they write. "But the only candidate who is directly associated with Liberty University is Donald Trump.

"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 students lament that Trump is now associated with Liberty since Falwell enorsed him earlier this year. They say they are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history: "Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him."

Trump received just 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia's primary election.

The students say: "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."

They note that any Liberty faculty or staff member would be terminated for making the comments about women that Trump was revealed to have made.

Falwell's response however was: "We're all sinners."

The students say: "We must make clear to the world that while everyone is a sinner and everyone can be forgiven, a man who constantly and proudly speaks evil does not deserve our support for the nation's highest office."

Len Stevens, director of external comms for Liberty University told Christian Today: "From the University's perspective I can tell you that Liberty University does not support or oppose candidates for public office. Jerry Falwell Jr's endorsement of Donald Trump is a personal endorsement, in his individual capacity as a citizen and not as president of Liberty University. The University is not commenting on this and is referring all comments and inquiries regarding the endorsement to his family, outside the operations of the University." He added that he had nothing about any doubts from Falwell: "I have heard nothing about a potential change in endorsement."

One member of the group behind the letter, Dustin Wahl, told CNN that since publishing the letter at 3 pm on Wednesday, they had more than 200 signatures from fellow students by Wednesday evening. The students took action so that "the world understands how many Liberty students do not support President Falwell in his endorsement of Donald Trump".

A group leader, Tyler McNally, found himself trending on Twitter after he tweeted:

Falwell himself reiterated on Wednesday night that he was standing behind Trump. 

Falwell told CNN: "I'm going to vote for Donald Trump because I believe he's the best qualified to be president of the United States."

He added: "What about the Donald Trump of today? Is he a changed man? I think he is. He's taken all the right positions on all the issues. He will do what's best for America as president."

Libertarian presidential candidate and former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson will speak at Liberty University's Convocation next Monday. Republican Mike Pence along with Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders have also spoken at Liberty.