Jerry Falwell Jr., conservative president of Liberty University and son of the late televangelist of the same name, gathered his students into the same auditorium in which Ted Cruz chose to launch his presidential bid to deliver a message. In the wake of several high-profile mass shootings in America, Falwell told the collected group of young adults that it was absolutely vital that they buy guns and get concealed carry permits.
Falwell insisted that as many students as possible bring guns onto campus to protect the school against a mass shooting. He then couldn’t help but take a dig at President Obama, who has grown increasingly frustrated by America’s out of control gun culture. (The kind of gun culture that allows a sitting university president to tell thousands of students to arm themselves before class.)
“It just blows my mind that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control,” he said to applause.
“If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now…,” he said while being interrupted by louder cheers and clapping. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, chuckling.
The insanity was only just beginning. In light of a recently released study that found nearly 80 percent of Evangelical Christians think we are currently living through the End Times, Falwell made it clear that he believed he was preparing his conservative Christian students for an inevitable war with Islam. His remarks smacked of a holy war that Falwell not only anticipated, but actually desired.
“‘I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he says, the rest of his sentence drowned out by loud applause.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
To be clear, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that “good guys with guns” actually help in mass shooting situations. In the 353+ mass shootings that have taken place this year, zero of them were disrupted or stopped by a “good guy.” Even when trained people with guns confront an active shooter situation, things don’t always turn out well. In Colorado Springs, a right-wing Christian terrorist shot six police officers, killing one, during his rampage from inside a Planned Parenthood. It’s hard to imagine a young kid in an ill-fitting Liberty U sweatshirt would have been able to stop the bloodshed without putting him or herself in great danger.
In the wake of Falwell’s “end those Muslims” speech, he has been quick to suggest that he merely meant “radical Muslims,” and not Muslims more generally. However, he is certainly not helping make that distinction. Hate crimes against Muslims and Arab ethnic groups has been on the rise at the worst rate since 9/11. For many conservatives, there is no distinction between “radical Muslims” and “Muslims.” That fact was made abundantly clear during the ugly “Syrian refugees” debate, which saw right-wing politicians and pundits painting the entire group of victims as potential terrorists.
Falwell’s message reached thousands of students. His speeches are mandatory for Liberty U students on campus, and for the 95,000 taking online classes, many tune in to watch a livestream. A bunch of twitchy, conservative teens carrying concealed handguns and on the look out for “those Muslims” is a recipe for disaster. This is the kind of religious clash that no one but the extremists on both sides could possibly want.
Feature image via Liberty University