You may or may not have heard, but candidate Mitt Romney has a bit of a faith problem brewing at Liberty University. Liberty University being the university that was founded by evangelical leader Jerry Falwell. The conflict of course is tied to Mr. Romney’s affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The university’s Chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr.’s invited the presidential candidate to deliver its 2012 commencement address. Being a predominantly evangelical school, the university is used to having an evangelical speaker deliver the commencement address.
The student body was not as open as Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. and comment after comment appeared by the hundreds from angry students.
The university has a history of having prominent republican candidates such as Ronald Regan and Sen. John McCain. These previous speakers have not created an uprising of this sort, so what is the only difference. The fact he is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made him offensive to the students.
One student’s protestations demonstrated a huge shift that may be taking place at the university: “We came to Liberty because of our faith in Jesus; not for political reasons.”
The problem I see here is not the commencement address at Liberty University, the problem is much bigger. The problem I see is the awkward relationship that evangelical Christians have with Mr. Romney as the Republican Party is traditionally a party dominated by evangelical/conservative Christians. At this university, the normally accepting student body that has in the past had Catholic and Jewish commencement speakers in the past suddenly has students that refuse the idea of talking or inviting politics into Christian discussion.
In other words, a person who would normally be herded into the cheering, way to the right wing section is now determined to keep religion and politics separate.
My question is: Will this take place Republican Party wide if Mitt Romney is bouncing around at the forefront of his party for too long? Is there going to be an uprising amongst evangelical Christians that drives some or even many of them away from the political arena. I cannot truly know or state if this would be good for the Republican Party, but I have to say that it would not seem to be good for the Republican Party base and ultimately the party as a whole.
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Funny but true, many of the endorsements for Mr. Romney seem almost forced against someone’s will. They also seem so painful to some that people are unable to fake it.
What I am getting at is: Could this be the Republicageddon that destroys the Republican Party?
All that time in the public eye campaigning is going to be tough on supporters who are not in love with the candidate. Then what happens if the Republican Party ends up with him at the front of their party for four to eight years as president?
This incident at Liberty University may be a smaller version of things to come or an isolated incident. What it is however is something the Republican Party ought to consider before going any farther in the direction it is heading.