. Jeb Bush pushed back against what he said are modern intrusions on religion -- including the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act -- as he lauded graduates and their families Saturday at Liberty University, a Christian college popular on the path to the Republican presidential nomination.
“Fashionable opinion – which these days can be a religion all by itself – has got a problem with Christians and their right of conscience,” Bush said. “That makes it our problem, and the proper response is a forthright defense of the first freedom in our Constitution.”
The remarks came as Bush delivered the commencement address before an estimated 34,000 people in the school’s football stadium.
“How strange, in our own time, to hear Christianity spoken of as some sort of backward and oppressive force,” Bush said in remarks prepared for delivery. “Outside these 7,000 acres of shared conviction, it’s a depressing fact that when some people think of Christianity and of Judeo-Christian values, they think of something static, narrow, and outdated. We can take this as unfair criticism, as it typically is … or, we can take it as further challenge to show in our lives the most dynamic, inclusive, and joyful message that ever came into the world.”
Bush has yet to declare his candidacy, but he made an allusion to the presidential race, noting that today was his first chance to meet Jonathan Falwell, one of the sons of the school’s co-founder, the late Jerry Falwell.
“Jonathan has a unique place at Liberty, among other reasons because, here at this university, his father used to be president, and then his brother became president,” Bush said as the crowd laughed. “Somehow – I don’t know what it was – we really hit it off. I’m not sure what’s in store for you next, Jonathan, but I’m pulling for you.”