Donald Trump’s first return to Liberty University since his campaign days will feature a “non-welcoming committee” of local liberal activists.
The president is scheduled to give a commencement speech on May 13 at the largest Christian university in the world. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and graduating students may be interested in his words of advice, but at least 100 residents of Lynchburg, Virginia, have organized a “non-violent act of civil disobedience” for an area just outside the campus perimeter.
“Honestly, we have deep ideological differences with Donald Trump and with Liberty University to be honest,” local school teacher Nick Castanes told The News and Advance on Wednesday.
“It is our goal to send the message that even in Lynchburg, Trump is not going to find a space without dissent,” the group’s Facebook page says.
Promotional materials obtained on Thursday by the education watchdog Campus Reform read: “We stand in opposition to Donald Trump’s oppressive policies and divisive rhetoric.”
One of the graduates looking forward to Saturday’s ceremony told Campus Reform that individuals who have nothing to do with the school or its ceremonies should reconsider the venue for their protest.
“I’m all for people exercising their rights to free speech — in fact I would normally encourage peaceful protests — however, this is a graduation ceremony, a day where students celebrate years of hard work and special accomplishments together, and I think that the protestors should keep that in mind,” graduating senior Amanda Kieffer told the website. “Adding to the chaos is really more disrespectful to the graduates and their families than it is effective as a protest against Trump.”
Mr. Falwell Jr. endorsed Mr. Trump’s campaign on Jan. 26, 2016. The influential evangelical Christian leader said at the time that the billionaire could “lead our country to greatness” because he is “a successful executive and entrepreneur.”
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