Falwell faces some backlash on arming college students
by Sarah Padbury
Posted 12/14/15, 05:20 pm
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. stands by his call-to-arms for college students, despite criticism from within the evangelical community.
In response to the San Bernardino terror attack two weeks ago, college students from around the country joined thousands of Liberty students in supporting Falwell’s public address, which encouraged students to get concealed-carry permits to protect themselves and their classmates in case of similar attacks by Muslim extremists.
“I’ve never received more support or a more positive response from anything I have ever said in Convocation before,” Falwell told The Blaze.
But students at another Christian university—Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.—say Falwell’s position does not represent Christian ideals. In an open letter to evangelical leaders, a coalition of Wheaton students condemned Falwell’s remarks, saying they were responding to “religious oppression or violence” with fear instead of love. Christ calls us to fearless love, the letter said, quoting 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
“In our country and in the evangelical community, fear has become a driving motivator which has led to stigmatization, acts of aggression, and a push for public policy that targets and alienates the Muslim population,” the letter said.
The students went on to exhort Christian leaders to guard their words and pursue loving our Muslim neighbors: “Even when our neighbors are violent,” Christians should love them to “the point of death.”
Moriah Wierschem, a sophomore at Liberty University, said not all Liberty students cheered when Falwell made his remarks. Some just stared in disbelief, Wierschem said in a Christianity Today editorial.
“The cheers in the stadium that morning contradict our claims to valuing every life on this earth,” Wierschem wrote. “Applauding while someone speaks about killing anyone—even Islamic terrorists—is unacceptable when we believe that every life is valuable from the point of conception into eternity.”
Wheaton’s student leaders ended their appeal by declaring Christians must choose one of two paths in response to Muslim extremism. The first path prioritizes “our own comfort and security,” leading to hatred of our neighbors and the “societal exclusion” of those who are not exactly like us. The second path, they said, rejects discrimination and exclusion:
“Going down this path, we instead follow the voice of Jesus, calling us to love our neighbor and to pursue peace toward those hostile to us or our faith, and to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Sarah and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.