Romney Poised for Pilgrimage to Liberty University
On Saturday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will travel to Lynchburg, Virginia, to deliver the commencement address at the evangelical Christian university founded in 1971 by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr.: Liberty University.
Liberty - which was founded under the name Lynchburg Baptist College - identifies itself as the largest Christian university in the world, and it has become a go-to setting for Republican presidential candidates eager to appeal to evangelicals. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and John McCain all made the trip to Liberty, with Mr. Bush offering the commencement address while in the White House. Saturday will mark Romney’s first visit to the school.
In the past year, several 2012 Republican presidential primary candidates used visits to Liberty to spotlight their faith. Michele Bachmann delivered an intensely personal and religious speech during which she told students, “don’t settle for anything less than what this great and mighty God has planned for you.” Rick Perry offered something akin to a sermon, telling students, “My faith journey is not the story of someone who turned to God because I wanted to. It is because I had nowhere else to turn.”
For Romney, who is Mormon, faith is a delicate issue. Some Christians do not believe that Mormonism is a legitimate branch of Christianity; One prominent Dallas pastor, Dr. Robert Jefress, referred to Mormonism as a “theological cult” while introducing Perry at last year’s “Values Voters Summit.” T