Bernie Sanders to speak at Liberty University

'I admire him for having the courage to come,' president says

Presidential hopeful—and self-described democratic socialist—Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) will speak at Christian-affiliated Liberty University this fall, Jessie Pounds reports for the News & Advance.

The senator will address the student body at convocation on Sept. 14 as part of school officials' efforts to host each of the 2016 presidential candidates. The university's attorneys told President Jerry Falwell Jr. that inviting all individuals running for president "is the safest course of action to protect Liberty University's nonprofit status under U.S. tax law," writes Pounds.

Liberty was founded in 1971 by Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., who also broadcast church services to millions of television viewers. Residential undergraduate students are required to attend convocation three times a week.

"We have a very conservative student body," says Falwell Jr. "I admire [Sanders] for having the courage to come to Liberty and speak." 

It is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints at convocation, he says.

Eight of the 17 politicians competing for the GOP nominations have already spoken at Liberty:

  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul;
  • Jeb Bush, former Florida governor;
  • Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania representative;
  • Donald Trump;
  • Rick Perry, former Texas governor;
  • Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor;
  • Jim Gilmore, former Virginia governor;
  • And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his presidential bid there in March.

Additionally, Republican candidate Ben Carson is scheduled to speak at the institution's Nov. 11 Convocation, and Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) was set to address the student body but had to reschedule (Pounds, , News & Advance, 8/5).

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