Ron DeSantis was at Liberty University on Friday morning.
When I first heard that DeSantis was speaking at Liberty University, I thought that he might announce his presidential candidacy there. That didn’t happen, but here’s what did happen.
27:31: In his introduction of DeSantis, Jonathan Falwell got a round of applause from the Liberty students when he said that DeSantis signed the Florida Heartbeat Protection Act. It prohibits abortions after six weeks. (The Tampa Bay Times asks why DeSantis chose to sign this bill so late in the evening). The friendly confines of Liberty University served as an ideal place for DeSantis to take a victory lap after signing this new law, but he did not say anything about it in his speech.
29:00ff: DeSantis thanked the Liberty community for praying for his family during his wife’s cancer diagnosis.
30:00ff: At this point DeSantis moved into what may soon become a presidential stump speech. He said that in Florida, “we chose facts over fear, we chose education over indoctrination, we chose law and order over rioting and disorder. When the world went mad, when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue, Florida stood as a refuge of sanity–a citadel of freedom for people throughout our country and, indeed, throughout the world. We faced attacks. We took the hits. We weathered the storm. But we stood our ground. We did not back down.”
Here DeSantis was doing his best Tom Petty imitation:
It was interesting to hear the Liberty crowd cheering when DeSantis talked about indoctrination. After all, here is one of Liberty University’s most vocal spokesmen:
This got a retweet from Wolfe:
And this was just in the last 24 hours!
I am really interested to see how the Standing for Freedom Center will fare under the leadership of Liberty’s new president. How Dondi Costin handles this product of the old Falwell Jr. regime will speak volumes to the general public about how he plans to position the world’s largest Christian university in terms of politics.
But I digress. Let’s get back to DeSantis’s speech:
33:00-37:00: DeSantis started talking about his leadership style and his decision to go on the “offensive” with the policies he wanted to bring to Florida. This part of the speech got tepid applause from the crowd at Liberty. At this point, DeSantis was just riffing on his “accomplishments” in Florida. It’s was a pretty dull speech and DeSantis did not seem to be connecting very well with the audience. He seemed to be giving a speech for the press, not for the Liberty student body. Evangelicals–especially evangelical young people–don’t like people reading to them. DeSantis was wedded to his text.
41:40: DeSantis says, “We have made Florida the state in which woke goes to die.” This got the loudest and most extended round of applause thus far from the students.
42:00ff: The rest of the speech focused on DeSantis’s view of “truth.” He got another nice round of applause when he attacked transgenderism in schools, the Disney corporation, and sports. Now he was starting to throw some red meat to the Liberty student body and they ate it up. But he said nothing about how his Catholic shaped his policy decisions. Such an approach may have won him some points with these young evangelical voters.
45:00: DeSantis riffed on America’s founding era (in very vague terms, of course) and implied that his 21st century political agenda is identical to the founding ideals of this nation.
47:40ff: DeSantis ended the speech with a quote from 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I will keep the faith.” When St. Paul wrote these words I don’t think he was thinking of future presidential races. Here is the larger entire context for this verse from the New Testament book of 2 Timothy:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction.
For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. 4So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing.
48:00: As DeSantis finished his speech, students in the audience hoisted at least two yellow Gadsden flags (“Don’t tread on me”) and one American flag. A chant of “U.S.A, U.S.A.” echoed throughout the room.
49:00: The Liberty University provost then gave DeSantis an honorary doctoral of humanities. Interesting. Does DeSantis‘s speech and his educational policies in Florida really represent the best of the humanities? The Christian humanities? Apparently at Liberty University they do.
As I have said many times at this blog, not all Christian universities are the same.
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