Trump urges Liberty graduates to be outsiders

Few Christian leaders have been as vocally supportive of the Trump administration as Falwell.

President Donald Trump delivered an uplifting message to the Liberty University graduating class here Saturday - but also used the commencement speech to take on a "chorus of critics" and to seemingly defend his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Trump's speech on Saturday marks his third address at the campus in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The president also called the United States "a nation of true believers", a country that doesn't "worship government, we worship God".

Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty's president, helped Trump win an overwhelming 80 percent of the white evangelical vote.

President Trump is presented with an honorary doctorate about 31 minutes into the commencement ceremony and begins his address immediately after that.

Trump is scheduled to address graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, on Wednesday.

Trump basked in the warm reception he received from an announced crowd of more than 50,000 at the university's football stadium, nestled in hills leading to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I've been here, this is now my third time, and we love setting records, right?

Mr Trump, who never touted his faith publicly prior to the campaign, emphasised that the students from the faith-based university were "outsiders" just like he is in Washington.

They are among almost a dozen candidates Trump is considering to succeed ousted FBI Director James Comey. "Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right".

"A small group of failed voices, who think they know everything, and understand everyone, want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do and how to think", he said. These are great signs for America's future - the future that our new graduates will play with such a critical role in shaping our world and our country.

In one of the more freakish sections of the speech, Trump read off the Liberty University football team's entire 2018 schedule, remarking several times on the difficulty of the competition they would face - "Jerry, are you sure you know what you're doing here?" he asked upon noting that the team would be facing perennial powerhouse Auburn.

Relish the opportunity to be an outsider.

Mr. Trump went on the question the Liberty University students about challenging accepted wisdom and taking on established systems.

"I'm honored that he found time in his busy schedule to come out here and come to our commencement", said Rule. "Carry yourself with dignity and pride, demand the best from yourself".

But Trump himself has given his critics a lot of fodder over the last several days.

"Being an outsider is fine, embrace the label, because it's the outsider" who makes the difference, Trump said.

"Treat the word "impossible" as nothing more than motivation". At another, he told students and parents at the conservative religious school that "nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic".

  • Joey Payne