Hundreds of students at the top US evangelical Christian university, Liberty, have come out against Donald Trump.
The Republican nominee has been controversially backed by Liberty's own president, Jerry Falwell Jr.
The students have formed a new group, Liberty United Against Trump.
In an open letter that
has already had hundreds of endorsements, they say they do not wish to
champion Trump. They only want to be champions for Jesus Christ.
"We Liberty students are often told to support Donald Trump because
the other leading candidate is a bad option. Perhaps this is true," they
write. "But the only candidate who is directly associated with Liberty
University is Donald Trump.
"Because our president has led the world to believe that Liberty
University supports Donald Trump, we students must take it upon
ourselves to make clear that Donald Trump is absolutely opposed to what
we believe, and does not have our support.
"We are not proclaiming our opposition to
Donald Trump out of bitterness, but out of a desire to regain the
integrity of our school.
"While our president Jerry Falwell Jr. tours the country championing
the log in his eye, we want the world to know how many students oppose
him. We don't want to champion Donald Trump; we want only to be
champions for Christ."
The students lament that Trump is now associated with Liberty since
Falwell enorsed him earlier this year. They say they are tired of being
associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American
history: "Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing
to do with him."
Trump received just 90 votes from Liberty students in Virginia's primary election.
The students say: "Associating any politician with Christianity is
damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any
politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about
his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is
actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to
They note that any Liberty faculty or staff member would be
terminated for making the comments about women that Trump was revealed
to have made.
Falwell's response however was: "We're all sinners."
The students say: "We must make clear to the world that while
everyone is a sinner and everyone can be forgiven, a man who constantly
and proudly speaks evil does not deserve our support for the nation's
Len Stevens, director of external comms for Liberty University told
Christian Today: "From the University's perspective I can tell you that
Liberty University does not support or oppose candidates for public
office. Jerry Falwell Jr's endorsement of Donald Trump is a personal
endorsement, in his individual capacity as a citizen and not as
president of Liberty University. The University is not commenting on
this and is referring all comments and inquiries regarding the
endorsement to his family, outside the operations of the University."
added that he had nothing about any doubts from Falwell: "I have heard
nothing about a potential change in endorsement."
One member of the group behind the letter, Dustin Wahl, told CNN that
since publishing the letter at 3 pm on Wednesday, they had more than
200 signatures from fellow students by Wednesday evening. The students
took action so that "the world understands how many Liberty students do
not support President Falwell in his endorsement of Donald Trump".
Falwell himself reiterated on Wednesday night that he was standing behind Trump.
Falwell told CNN: "I'm going to vote for Donald Trump because I believe he's the best qualified to be president of the United States."
He added: "What about the Donald Trump of today? Is he a changed man?
I think he is. He's taken all the right positions on all the issues. He
will do what's best for America as president."