The drive from Liberty University to Lynchburg Regional Airport takes less than 8 minutes, even amid heavy traffic from the influx of visitors in town to celebrate the university’s graduation ceremonies on Saturday. These few minutes are all I have to chat with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, leaving campus in an SUV with tinted windows after delivering the commencement address to more than 34,000 people in a packed-out football stadium.
Liberty is the world’s largest evangelical university, with nearly 14,000 residential students and another 95,000 students online. But while 63 percent of full-time faculty at four-year universities and colleges nationwide identify as “far left” or “liberal” and only 12 percent identify as “far right” or “conservative,” Liberty University bucks the trend in attracting primarily conservative students and faculty—no surprise, having been founded by the late Jerry Falwell, Sr., of the (now defunct) Moral Majority. The school’s explosive growth and strong conservative base have made it a prime venue for conservative politicians over the years.
Jeb Bush’s appearance follows a long list of appearances at the school by conservative politicians: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Rand Paul. Bush’s commencement address comes 25 years after his father, George H. W. Bush, gave his own address, the only sitting president to do so.
While the majority of visiting politicians have been conservative or Republican, what many news stories fail to report is that the university invites ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more