At Liberty University, an Evangelical spin on Black Lives Matter

Around the South

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A protest, in the same vein as Black Lives Matter, was scheduled at Liberty University on Tuesday. It turned into much less of a protest and much more of an “informational meeting,” according to an Instagram post, with a protest to be rescheduled.

According to posts on Instagram by organizers, the protest was officially postponed due to safety concerns from the University.

Still, students gathered together.

“It shouldn’t be a movement for our lives to matter,” said one speaker. “‘Black Lives Matter is literally just a statement.”

Reporters are not allowed on Liberty’s campus, but a student sent us photos and videos of the rally, where students put an Evangelical spin on Black Lives Matter.

“It’s about progress,” said another speaker, “it’s about leaving a legacy, and so if we can come here and say ‘no, Jesus is all in this, and because of Jesus, Black Lives Matter.’ Because his life matters, our lives matter.”

“This whole social justice thing,” said a third speaker, “this is only an extension of the gospel. Within the gospel, within the love, the agape love of Jesus Christ, is justice, and it is righteousness.”

The student who sent in photos and videos, who asked to remain anonymous, estimates more than 100 people attended, including a representative from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“I want everybody here to know,” said the person who identified themselves as being from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, “no matter what concerns you have, no matter what you want to do, come and talk to our office. That’s the reason why we exist. We want to hear your voice.”

An apparent counter-protester spoke to the crowd at one point.

“You’re saying there’s white privilege,” said the apparent counter-protester. “It doesn’t exist.”

Another speaker also spoke about white privilege, explaining how she once did not believe it existed but now views the issue differently.

“Things that have happened to me could have been worse than you,” she said, comparing her struggles in life to those of a person of color, “but nothing that happened to me in my life was based on the color of my skin. That’s the difference. That’s privilege. That’s it, period. It doesn’t mean that we don’t all struggle, that we don’t all go through things.”

WFXR News tried reaching out to organizers and attendees for off-campus interviews, but nobody was available to speak.

We also reached out to the University, but a spokesperson did not immediately respond to our request for comment. Later, the spokesperson sent the following statement:

“This morning, a group of Liberty University students peacefully assembled at Freedom Tower in the interest of Christian unity and bringing awareness to social and racial injustice. While the original event was postponed in the interest of student safety, we are encouraged by the diverse group of students who gathered to understand the purpose of the postponement and to learn more about a student initiative called “Justice4Us”.

Students at Liberty are permitted and encouraged to engage in peaceful activism, demonstrations, and protest gatherings as long as all current health and safety protocols and procedures are followed and prior permission has been granted by the university. Such was the case for the gathering that took place today.

While some who used the words “Black Lives Matter” were in attendance, to be clear, this was not a Black Lives Matter event, although we believe that black lives do indeed matter. This Justice4Us event was a student-led and student-created initiative. It is inclusive of all who support Christian unity and social justice. It was not only peaceful, but also civil, safe, and carefully observed to help ensure all members of the campus community were protected.

Our office welcomes anyone who would like to know more about peaceful gatherings on our campus.”

— Kelvin Edwards, Executive Vice President of Management Efficiencies and Diversity

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