Beliefnet News

Beliefnet News


Democrats Stake a Claim on Pat Robertson’s Campus

posted by akornfeld

Virginia Beach, Va. — It’s not as daring as, say, Pat Robertson’s Republican run for the White House in 1988. But there’s no denying that starting a Democratic student group at Robertson’s Regent University seems a bit audacious.
“Here, it is definitely a startling idea,” said Kalila Hines, a government major and one of the founding members of Regent Democrats.
Regent, where Robertson is president and chancellor, has long had a student Republican group. The university approved Regent Democrats as an official student organization in late January, and the group now counts about 30 members.
Robertson, a Christian broadcaster, is a staunch political conservative who often disparages Democrats, including during his commentaries on “The 700 Club,” Robertson’s flagship show on his Christian Broadcasting Network.
Although Robertson was not available for comment on the group, Regent’s vice president for academic affairs, Carlos Campo, said Robertson gave his thumbs up to the new group.
“He said, `You know what? It reflects the openness of our campus and how open we are to sharing of ideas,”‘ Campo said of his talk with Robertson.
Brandon Carr, a law student and vice president of Regent Democrats, described the group as “Democrats and independents who want to be Christian leaders to change the world … explaining to others how you can be a Christian and agree to some Democratic principles as well.”
As a Christian-based school, Regent has a strongly evangelical, charismatic accent, and all faculty are expected to be Christians. They sign a statement binding them with Regent’s Christian beliefs, such as the infallibility of the Bible.
But Regent’s 4,282 students represent a spectrum of religious denominations — and, obviously, political beliefs as well.
“There’s basically been an underground kind of movement to kind of get a Democratic organization on campus and to show that Christians can side with the Democratic Party,” said Carr’s wife, Heather, a divinity student.
Last year, amid the national excitement of the presidential campaign, the couple started a Facebook site to gauge student interest in launching a Regent group for Democrats and political independents.
Evangelical Christian colleges with student Democratic organizations include Wheaton College in Illinois (Billy Graham’s alma mater), Biola University in California and Anderson University in Indiana.
Regent’s student Democrats said they were pleased, but not surprised, by welcoming comments they’ve gotten from faculty and classmates.
“Just with this group out there, people are realizing that being Christian does not always equal Republican,” Heather Carr said. “Your faith should direct your politics, not your politics directing your faith.”
At the same time, many Regent Democrats say they don’t embrace the party’s agenda wholesale. Student Takeshia Stokes, who wore her Obama buttons proudly during last year’s campaign, said she disagrees with the party’s support of abortion rights.
Still, Stokes said she identifies with “the heart … the Democratic Party has for helping ‘the least of these,’ and that’s something that’s dear to my heart.”
For years, Regent has invited some of the country’s leading liberals and Democrats to visit, including 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore, his campaign manager Donna Brazile, 1984 vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, and the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The visits typically involve formal debates with leading conservatives.
David Gushee, a Mercer University Christian ethics professor and author of “The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center,” said he’s not surprised to see a Democratic group pop up at the 32-year-old Regent.
Christian colleges typically get more mainstream as they respond to expectations from accrediting agencies, academia and students with varied backgrounds, he said.
“My first thought was that Regent is moving outside of the hyper-conservative Christian subculture to be a somewhat broader climate,” he said. “It actually speaks well of Regent that there is diversity there.”
But the Democratic club is also evidence of a generational shift in values among evangelicals, Gushee said — a broader moral agenda that goes beyond abortion and gay rights to include poverty, war, genocide and environmentalism, he said.
“Younger evangelicals are trending toward the center and loosening this kind of reflexive Republican Party identity,” he said.
That’s a good description of Brandon Carr, who said his moral concerns include the poor, stewardship of the Earth and avoiding pre-emptive wars.
“As a Bible-believing Christian, I believe in the truth that’s in here,” he said, tapping the cover of his Bible. “Some of his greatest commandments in here are to love one another, care for one another, to be peacemakers, and that’s how I approach (God’s) Word.”
By Steven G. Vegh
Religion News Service
Steven G. Vegh is a writer for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va.
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(15)
post a comment
pagansister

posted March 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm


When they start an atheist group, Pagan group, Muslim group, IOW’s a non-Christian group, I’ll get excited.



report abuse
 

Henrietta22

posted March 24, 2009 at 7:50 pm


I like the part that said, “We want to show that Christians can be Democrats, too.” Did they mean to say that it’s alright to be a democrat if you are a Pentecostal Christian? I’m a Christian and a Democrat, and I know thousands who are, and we’re doing just fine.



report abuse
 

JohnQ

posted March 24, 2009 at 8:06 pm


pagansister-
I agree with you. But, you must admit, for them this is a huge step.
Peace!



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted March 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm


Yes, JohnQ, I do admit that it is a huge step for them.



report abuse
 

JohnQ

posted March 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm


from the article:
Brandon Carr, a law student and vice president of Regent Democrats, described the group as “Democrats and independents who want to be Christian leaders to change the world … explaining to others how you can be a Christian and agree to some Democratic principles as well.”
My question would be…..can you be Christian and really agree to some Republican principles? To me, that is a much further stretch.
In the interest of full disclosure….I am an independent.
Peace!



report abuse
 

JohnQ

posted March 24, 2009 at 8:15 pm


pagainsister-
It will be interesting to see which happens first at Regent……a pagan group or a gay group.
Peace!



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted March 24, 2009 at 8:52 pm


Personally, JohnQ, I’d rather see a gay group first…both I feel, would be very hard for those at Regent to accept. (or a Pagan Gay group? :o) ) I’m an Independent also, BTW.



report abuse
 

nnmns

posted March 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm


I’m with you on that, JohnQ. If Christianity makes a claim to being positive it’s hard to see how they could cleave to the modern Republican party. The Party of Limbaugh is against available medical care, trustworthy social security, worker safety, monitoring the companies we’ve invested in, investments in our future and so much more.
Of course if the Christian leader is mostly interested in power or money, the Party of Limbaugh will trade that for votes in a heartbeat.



report abuse
 

Nate W

posted March 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm


I have a hard time believing that an extremely conservative Christian school like Regent would even attract enough atheists, pagans, and Muslims to warrant starting groups for them. Why would they want to go there in the first place?



report abuse
 

JohnQ

posted March 25, 2009 at 7:24 am


Nate-
Perhaps to gain a Regent education.
The same type questions were asked about why blacks would want to attend schools that did not want them…..and, why women would want to attend some of the Colleges/Universities that had been “men only”.
Do not misunderstand. I very much hope my kids will not want to attend Regent. However, if they can make a good case for why they think it would be a good idea…then, we will support their objectives.
Peace!



report abuse
 

arianna

posted March 25, 2009 at 11:31 am


pagansister:
or, is it hard for you to accept christians?
don’t fall into the dangers of stereotyping, or you will be stereotyped yourself (note, my first sentence is an example of stereotyping you…and it could be off base the way your comment is out there)
remember, accepting is not the same as agreeing. you can love people, without agreeing with them. although, i’d encourage you to take the time to understand christianity.



report abuse
 

jestrfyl

posted March 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm


I suspect that these are fairly “magenta” democrats. But then I know there are some fairly “indigo” republicans on demoractic dominated campuses. We will need a crayon or paint maufacturers chart to name all the shades and variations on the red to blue spectrum.



report abuse
 

JohnQ

posted March 25, 2009 at 12:31 pm


arianna-
I am going to suggest that you are jumping to unfounded conclusions when you ask if it is hard for pagansister to accept Christians.
As a Christian who has been reading her posts for years. I not only feel accepted by her….but, also respected. Over the years, I have never seen her challenge anyone based on their religion or lack of religion. I have seen her challenge people of any religion when she disagreed with their opinion.
Peace!



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted March 25, 2009 at 12:33 pm


arianna: “or is it hard for you to accept Christians?”
I was raised in the Methodist church and at 17 decided it (Christianity) wasn’t for me. However my 2 sisters and their families are devout Christians. We are all close and have no problems, as I accept their beliefs and they mine. Married a UU, raised the kids in UU church. There are all varieties of Chrisianity, as there are in other faiths. So, to answer your quesiton…No, no problem at all. Whatever floats their boat. Christianity just doesn’t float my boat.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted March 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm


Thanks for the kind words, JohnQ.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Hispanics turning evangelical, Jews secular
Worship service attendance is up in New York City, but down among young adult Jews, according to recent studies. On the other hand, fewer Spanish-speaking teens are attending Catholic mass, but more are showing up at Evangelical churches. [caption id="attachment_12343" align="alignleft" width="48

posted 3:10:30pm Nov. 05, 2013 | read full post »

Billy Graham: I know where I'm going
“Daddy thinks the Lord will allow him to live to 95,” said Franklin Graham recently. It was not a prophecy but a hope, Franklin explained, that he would live to see the beginning of a Christian re

posted 10:02:01am Oct. 24, 2013 | read full post »

Are All These Christians' Complaints of Persecution Just So Much Empty Whining?
The headlines are alarming: “Catholic-Owned Company Wins Religious Freedom Court Decision,” “Death Toll Rises to 65 in Boko Haram Attack on Students,” “Little Sisters Catholic Charity Victimized By Obamacare,” “Christians Sought Out, Murdered in the Kenyan Mall Massacre,” “Judicial

posted 2:41:26am Oct. 07, 2013 | read full post »

How can Christians defend themselves against today's random violence?
So, a crazed gunman opens fire and you’re caught in the middle. How can you survive? Heroes come in all sorts of packages. And they wield all sorts of defensive weapons. Such as guns and Jesus. Sometimes both at the same time. [caption id="attachment_12246" align="alignleft" width="480"] Ant

posted 2:53:48pm Sep. 27, 2013 | read full post »

Does Sunday Morning Church Really Need All This Glitter, Showmanship and Gimmickry?
What’s wrong with church today? Are we in danger of turning worship into a flashy concert? Of watering down the message so nobody is offended? Of forgetting the simplicity of the Gospel? I grew up with a preacher’s kid. He was a fake following in the footsteps of his flimflamming father who d

posted 11:26:20am Sep. 20, 2013 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.