Shane Clairborne reported yesterday on a shocking convocation address given by Jerry Falwell Jr. at Liberty University on Friday.

Clairborne writes:

The president of Liberty University, America’s largest Christian college, told his student body on Friday that “If more good people had conceal carry permits, then we can end those Muslims.” He stuck his hand in his back pocket indicating that he had a gun, and, referring to the people killed this week in San Bernardino, said, “If the people in that community center had had what I got in my back pocket right now…” A video of the event shows the student body responding with applause.It gets worse. Falwell invited Liberty students to attend a free course offered on campus to acquire open carry permits and concluded by saying, “Let’s teach [Muslims] a lesson before they show up here.”– See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2015/12/05/jerry-falwell-jr-is-wrong-to-encourage-concealed-weapons-to-end-those-muslims/#sthash.1B1oHB0G.dpuf

Here is the video of his comments:

 

Jerry Falwell Jr.It is tempting simply to dismiss Jerry Falwell Jr. as a fringe voice with no credibility who should not be taken seriously. But, as Clairborne points out, Falwell Jr. is the president of a significant educational institution:

Liberty isn’t just a struggling little fundamentalist Bible college. With over 100,000 online and residential students, Liberty is the largest Christian university in the United States. Liberty has over 100,000 students. The next largest Christian university has one-third that many.

For many people Jerry Falwell Jr. and his students are the face of Christianity.

How could people who claim to be Christian ever go so far astray? How could they depart so dramatically from the teachings of Jesus who said,
 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:43,44)

What right have Christians to point a finger at any religion for being violent when Jerry Falwell Jr. can stand up in front of his student body to directly and purposely incite violence?

It is not good enough for Christians to distance themselves from Jerry Falwell Jr. if our words are preparing the ground for the kind of vicious expressions of which he is guilty.

Jerry Falwell Jr. is the logical conclusion of a certain strain of thought present in some strands of most religions. When we head down the road that claims, “I alone am right and you must agree with me or spend an eternity in suffering,” we are encouraging an attitude that tends towards the violence expressed by Jerry Falwell Jr.

Christians need to be aware of the environment being nurtured by the rhetoric we use. Our words either increase openness, gentleness, and compassion or they support rigidity, harshness, and violence. We may not intend to encourage young people to go out and purchase a hand gun. But our words and our attitudes have consequences that, even though they may not be fully intended, are the logical conclusion of the thought systems we promote.

Today all over the world Christians will gather and light the second candle on their Advent Wreath. This candle is traditionally the “Peace” candle. We acknowledge today that we are preparing to celebrate the birth of peace in the person of Jesus. Jesus did not carry a hand gun and he rebuked those who resorted to violence (Matthew 26:52; John 18:11).

May the world see today that the Christian Church rejects the violence that sought to destroy Jesus and promotes the peace  that Jesus came to establish in the hearts of all people.

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