At Liberty University, Trump Invokes God as Source of Freedom
President Donald Trump gave a powerful commencement speech to graduating students at Liberty University this weekend highlighting, among other important topics, America’s Christian heritage and the God-given rights of the American people. Blasting Big Government, insiders, the “broken system,” and the establishment behind it all, along with the establishment’s efforts to lord over the lives of Americans using the coercive power of the state, Trump urged the sea of Christian graduates to fight back as they go out into the world as future leaders. He also promised to defend religious liberty and America’s heritage of freedom — described as a gift from God — as long as he remains in office.
Throughout the May 13 commencement speech, Trump invoked God the Creator, Christ, the Gospel, faith, and the Bible more than two-dozen times. It was a thoroughly Americanist speech and perfectly appropriate for the setting, an evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, that is considered the largest of its kind in the world. Despite some reservations about Trump expressed by a number of prominent Christian voices, Liberty University leaders including its president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., supported Trump, as did countless Christian voters who were considered crucial to Trump’s historic electoral victory over the entire establishment. The president gratefully and playfully acknowledged that support and the key role it played in securing the White House.
Trump’s speech was infused from top to bottom with tributes to faith and God the Creator, whom Trump credited for freedom and America’s greatness. “America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers,” Trump told the more than 7,000 attendees and the countless others who watched the speech online. “When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth they prayed. When the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our Creator four times, because in America we don’t worship government, we worship God.” That catchy line blasting statism as idolatry made headlines across America, even in the anti-Trump establishment media often ridiculed by Trump for being purveyors of “fake news.”
The president went on to cite multiple examples showing that America has always been a Christian nation with its faith in God. “That is why our elected officials put their hands on the Bible and say, ´So help me God,´ as they take the oath of office. It is why our currency proudly declares, ´In God We Trust,´ and it’s why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation under God every time we say the pledge of allegiance.” In fact, the whole story of America is “the story of an adventure that began with deep faith, big dreams and humble beginnings,” the president explained.
Trump also called for unity and highlighted the fact that all Americans were made by the same God. “We must always remember that we share one home and one glorious destiny whether we are brown, black or white,” he said. “We all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all salute the same great American flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God. As long as you remember what you have learned here at Liberty, as long as you have pride in your beliefs, courage in your convictions and faith in your God, then you will not fail.”
Especially in recent years, millions of Americans have become increasingly pessimistic about the future, with more than a few conservatives and Christians suggesting that America, like Rome, was an empire in irreversible decline. Trump rejected that view, sounding optimistic about the future — provided Americans keep their faith where it belongs. “And as long as America remains true to its values, loyal to its citizens, and devoted to its Creator, then our best days are yet to come, I can promise you that,” he said, echoing an increasingly common theme among his supporters, millions of whom, rightly or wrongly, viewed his election as some sort divine intervention. “America is beginning a new chapter.”
With many Christians feeling under assault by Washington, D.C., during Obama’s reign — government mandated everything from providing birth-control by religious organizations to participation in homosexual “weddings” by Christians — Trump vowed to protect religious freedom, as well. “As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what’s in your heart,” he said. “We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow His teachings…. America is better when people put their faith into action.”
Continuing with that theme, Trump painted a picture of an out-of-control establishment at war with traditional American values such as Christianity and limited government. “A small group of failed voices who think they know everything and understand everyone want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do and how to think,” he said. “But you aren’t going to let other people tell you what you believe, especially when you know that you’re right.”
In a dramatic contrast to other commencement speeches by statist Big Government mongers at other colleges and universities, Trump highlighted the value of Christian charity, voluntary giving, and more, as opposed to constant reliance on government. “And those of you graduating here today, who have given half a million hours of charity last year alone, unbelievable amount of work and charity and few universities or colleges can claim anything even close, we don’t need a lecture from Washington on how to lead our lives,” Trump said. “I’m standing here looking at the next generation of American leaders.”
Taking aim at the establishment “Insiders,” the president expressed pride in being an outsider, and called on the Christian graduates in front of him to embrace it, too. “The more people tell you it’s not possible, that it can’t be done, the more you should be absolutely determined to prove them wrong,” Trump declared, saying the word “impossible” should be treated as nothing more than motivation. “Relish the opportunity to be an outsider. Embrace that label — being an outsider is fine, embrace the label — because it’s the outsiders who change the world and who make a real and lasting difference.”
Trump also called on graduates to take action in replacing the establishment’s corrupt and broken system with legitimate government — no matter how much the establishment whines and complains about it. “The more that a broken system tells you that you’re wrong, the more certain you should be that you must keep pushing ahead, you must keep pushing forward,” the president explained. “And you will have the faith to replace a broken establishment with a government that serves and protects the people.”
He praised the thousands of Christian students graduating assembled there, in particular. “Liberty University is a place where they really have true champions and you have a simple creed that you live by: To be, really, champions for Christ,” Trump declared. “Whether you’re called to be a missionary overseas, to shepherd a church or to be a leader in your community, you are living witness of the gospel message of faith, hope and love.” The comments were met enthusiastically, with countless graduates and families quoted in media reports praising Trump and his speech.
Trump paid a special tribute to veterans and those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. “We’re also deeply honored to be joined by some of the nearly 6000 service members, military veterans and military spouses who are receiving their diplomas today,” he said. “Will you please stand. Please stand. Wow. That’s great. Thank you very much, great job. We’re profoundly grateful to every single one of you who sacrificed to keep us safe and protect God’s precious gift of freedom. It is truly a testament to this university and to the values that you embrace that your graduating class includes so many patriots who have served our country in uniform.”
Trump’s hopeful, pro-liberty, pro-Christianity, anti-establishment remarks represented a remarkable contrast with other commencement speeches delivered this weekend by radical left-wing politicians and anti-God zealots at secular, government-run universities increasingly infamous for hostility to God and liberty. Indeed, from former President Bill Clinton and radical leftist U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren to failed Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and even washed-up comedians, there was a loud chorus of critics urging graduates at other schools across America to expand government, assault liberty, and sideline moral values.
While Trump’s speech was made at a Christian university to a Christian audience, the president has used similar language in other speeches aimed at the entire American public. In his inaugural address, for example, Trump quoted the Bible and acknowledged God the Creator as the true source of America’s protection. In that historic speech, the president also put the self-appointed globalist establishment on notice that the American people were back in charge.
But even assuming Trump is entirely sincere, he cannot beat back the establishment and protect liberty on his own. Christians, patriots, and conservatives across America must join together to ensure that those timeless American values Trump highlighted are preserved and protected.
Photo of President Trump at Liberty University: AP Images
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU or on Facebook.
After five years of fighting, the nonprofit legal group First Liberty confirmed a settlement has been reached that will allow a teacher fired for giving a student a Bible to return to work.
The settlement comes some two-and-a-half years after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission called for a settlement after it reviewed the facts of the case against teacher Walt Tutka.
Tutka was dismissed from his post as a substitute teacher with the Phillipsburg, New Jersey, district after his interaction with a student.
The federal agency said the district’s statements didn’t bear out.
“An analysis of the evidence reveals that respondent’s defense does not withstand careful scrutiny. Respondent has failed to produce key documents that could potentially support its defense despite being requested to do same. Evidence of record also confirms that the nexus behind respondent’s scheduled meeting was the distribution of religious material and planned disciplinary action following a failed attempt to terminate the charging party upon recommendation to the school board.
“Given these circumstances and absent adequate documentation to support its defense, the commission must conclude that more credibility should be assigned to charging party’s contention that religion and retaliation played a factor in his termination rather than respondent’s proffered defense.”’
The battle started in 2012 “when a student asked longtime substitute teacher Walt Tutka where in the Bible a famous quote could be found. Walt pulled out his personal Bible and showed the student so the student could look up the quote at home,” the legal team explained.
“When the student said he did not have a Bible, Walt spontaneously gave his Bible to the student to look up the quote ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first.’”
The school’s principal suspended him, and then the school board voted to fire him.
The EEOC letter directed that discussions and negotiations be held to see if the problem could be resolved, and First Liberty confirmed the agreement will allow the teacher to return to his duties.
“We are really pleased we accomplished the mission we set out to achieve – restoring Walt Tutka as a substitute teacher in Phillipsburg,” said Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel for First Liberty. “We always knew Walt complied with all school district policies and federal laws, the EEOC agreed, and now Walt is returning to his service to the community.
“No one should be fired from their job because of their religious beliefs. Today, not only has Walt’s religious liberty been restored, he has been given the chance to do again what he loves the most: teaching the children of Phillipsburg School District.”
The EEOC letter, from Area Director John Waldinger, had warned the school district if it declined “to enter into conciliation discussions, or when the commission’s representative is unable to secure an acceptable conciliation agreement, the director shall so inform the parties, advising them of the court enforcement alternatives available to aggrieved persons and the commission.”
First Liberty said Tutka was holding the door open for a student one day when he said, “The first shall be last, but the last shall be first.”
The student was curious enough to ask about the saying, and eventually Tutke showed the student the quote in his personal Bible.
When the student said he did not have a Bible in which to look up the saying himself, Tutka gave him his.
The teacher was suspended and later fired, and the EEOC ruling came after he brought a charge of discrimination against the school.