Bernie Sanders Speaks ... to Evangelicals

Gets 'polite, if tepid' applause from students
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2015 5:20 PM CDT
Updated Sep 14, 2015 6:00 PM CDT
Bernie Sanders Speaks ... to Evangelicals
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. gestures during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Bernie Sanders may be running for the Democratic presidential nomination, but that didn't stop him from addressing a group of Christian conservative students today. Sanders appeared at Liberty University, the Virginia evangelical college founded by Jerry Falwell, the Hill reports. "A Southern evangelical university is an unlikely place for a socialist-leaning Jew from Brooklyn to spend his Rosh Hashanah, and yet that’s how Sen. Bernie Sanders is passing his high holiday Monday," MSNBC leads off its article, which also notes that the university calls for a "total rejection of socialism." How was he received by the audience of about 12,000? The Hill reports that a "small throng" of his supporters did a lot of cheering, and mostly there was a "muted" response. But when he called for fighting back against racism and finding common ground, he earned cheers from "a much wider group."

He quoted some scripture, talked at length about economic inequality (to not many cheers, the Hill notes), and took questions after his speech. One of those had to do with abortion; USA Today reports that a university senior vice president "drew loud applause" when he asked about it, but that Sanders' response also drew applause: "Very often conservatives say, 'Get the government out of my life.' ... I respect absolutely a family that says, 'No, we are not going to have an abortion.' But I would hope that other people respect the very painful and difficult choice that many women feel they have to make and don’t want the government telling them what they have to do." The New York Times reports that Sanders mentioned that he's motivated by the Golden Rule and quoted Pope Francis, and notes that he was "greeted with polite, if tepid, applause" from students, while supporters who traveled from afar to attend were much more enthusiastic. The Washington Post has his full speech. (More Bernie Sanders stories.)

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