POLITICS

Bernie Sanders Reaches For The Converted At Liberty University

What did Sanders stand to gain? We asked Fusion's Kevin Roose -- who spent a "semester abroad" at the school that Jerry Falwell built.

If you open the Bible and turn to the Book of Hebrews, you'll find this bit of good advice: "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." This line might have been in the minds of Liberty University's students and administrators when the very conservative, very Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, opened its doors to the very not-conservative, very not-Christian presidential aspirant Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

As it happens, that line is also the epigraph of Kevin Roose's 2010 book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, which documents Roose's experiences as a temporary student at Jerry Falwell's famous college. On this week's "So That Happened," we turned to Roose for some insight into this meeting between Sanders and Liberty's evangelical student body, and why this collision of "strangers" wasn't really that strange. (The segment on Sanders' trip to Liberty starts at 28:00 in the clip below.)

As Samantha Lachman reported earlier this week, Sanders came to Liberty seeking to make a targeted appeal to the Christian enclave on alleviating income inequality. "When we talk about morality, and when we talk about justice," Sanders said, "we have to, in my view, understand that there is no justice when so few have so much, and so many have so little."

Roose urged us to remember that "places like Liberty are not monoliths," and that Sanders legitimately has common ground with the student body. "If you took [the income inequality] part of Bernie Sanders' message," Roose said, "and presented it to the students at Liberty as if from their own professors or their own pastors, it would be pretty uncontroversial."

And Roose was not surprised that Sanders received a respectful welcome: "In a lot of ways, Liberty students are more used to having their views tested than students at many schools."

Listen to the full interview with Kevin Roose by clicking the Soundcloud entry above.

This podcast was produced and edited by Adriana Usero and Peter James Callahan, engineered by Brad Shannon, with assistance from Christine Conetta.

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