Last October, back before Barack Obama was in the White House, several college kids in Virginia decided to start a chapter of College Democrats on their campus. They set up a table in the cafeteria, handed out literature and got a faculty adviser.
Nothing too unusual about this situation — unless it's at Liberty University.
"Jesus talked about the poor more than he did about abortion or gay marriage," says Brian Diaz, incoming sophomore at the evangelical Christian school. He ran the first officially endorsed College Democrat club Liberty has ever had.
"They mean well; they're good Christian kids," says Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of Liberty University. "But over the last eight months, they've supported a lot of candidates that were not pro-life, not pro-family." So the school decided to pull the club's endorsement. The students got word last week.
Falwell says they're free to do and say what they please, but they can't be officially sanctioned. "It's not about Democrat/Republican," he says, "it's about protecting the sanctity of life."
In other words, the university won't endorse a group that supports candidates who believe in abortion rights. So Friday night, Falwell made the students an offer: If they'll operate as part of Virginia Democrats for Life — not as representatives of the College Democrats — they can get their endorsement back. Diaz says they're considering this option — after all, he does oppose abortion rights. But he'd rather keep the group the way it was.
"Jesus talked about in the Bible that we should reach out to all nations and reach out to all types of people," Diaz says. "We want to share the love of Christ, and it just happens we are Democrats. We do believe in a Democratic platform."