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Liberty U pastor tells Bernie Sanders that cops shoot unarmed black people because of sin — not racism

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The campus pastor at Liberty University told Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that police brutality was a spiritual problem, and not the result of racism.

Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, spoke Monday at the conservative Christian university founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, where he told a large gathering of students that the U.S. had overcome some of its racist origins — but more work remained to be done.

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“I cannot understand for the life of me how there can be hundreds of groups in this country whose sole reason for existence is to promote hatred, hate groups, and they join us so we can hate African-Americans or gays or Jews or immigrants or anybody that is different from us,” Sanders said. “I can’t understand that, but let us be clear, that when you have unarmed African-Americans shot by police officers, something which has been going on for years, that is also institutional racism and something that cries out for reform.”

The crowd was politely receptive to the Vermont independent’s message about racial justice — but they reacted far more strongly when moderator David Nasser reframed the topic.

RELATED: Bernie Sanders drops truth bomb on Liberty University crowd: GOP cares about fetuses but not children

“We couldn’t agree with you more on (criminal justice reform), though,” said Nasser, the university’s senior vice president for spiritual development.

“We would say, and I think I speak for many of our students, that it’s not so much a skin issue as much as it is a sin issue,” Nasser said to thunderous and sustained applause. “That we can change the behavior of police, we could put cameras on them all day long, but behavior modification can only stop so short as identity change. I think we want what you want.”

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Sanders urged the students to demonstrate their commitment to racial justice by demanding change — as previous generations of religion-inspired civil rights activists had.

“Let me just say this,” the senator said. “The answer is obviously that we have got to change our hearts, but everybody here should know (that) 50, 60, 70 years ago in this country, we had segregated schools and segregated restaurants, and it took a Supreme Court, it took Martin Luther King Jr., it took millions of people to demand public policy which ended segregation.”

Nasser, who migrated to the U.S. as a child from Iran and later converted to Christianity, assured Sanders that he and the Christian students shared the same concerns, but he suggested more pro-business solutions.

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“I think where you’re going to find commonality is at Liberty University,” Nasser said. “We’re not interested in making sure people are invited to sit in the bus or even sit at a restaurant table — we want to see them own the bus and own the restaurant.”

Sanders said he would attack racism as president by calling for changes to sentencing laws, rolling back the militarization of police and demanding the prosecution of police officers who break the law.

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“What we have got to do is, when we see instances of racism, when we hear political leaders appealing to the worst elements of us by making racist attacks against people from another country or people whose color may be different than most of us, we have got to stand up and say, in America, you’re not going to do that — racism is unacceptable,” Sanders said.

Watch video of the conversation posted online here:

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‘People’s lives will be lost’: Psychiatrist warns ‘sociopath’ Trump is ‘getting worse’ — and failing in coronavirus response

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President Donald Trump's psychological problems are getting worse and could be consequential as America faces a potential COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday interviewed Dr. Lance Dodes, a former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

"As you pointed out, Lawrence, this man is about himself. He really is not about the country, he's not about public health," Dr. Dodes said of Trump.

"Although he has already severely damaged the country by being a psychopath or sociopath -- in many ways, he's damaged democracy -- I think people's lives will be lost now," he warned. "Individual lives will be lost because of the way he's mishandling the coronavirus issue."

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2020 Election

‘Something really rotten’: Here’s the evidence of extensive voter suppression in Georgia’s notorious 2018 election

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As the 2020 presidential campaign cycle grinds on, there’s renewed concern about the 21st century’s newest form of warfare: cyber-sabotage of government systems, including elections and online disinformation intended to incite unrest. But as Suppressed: The Fight to Vote, a documentary from Brave New Films, makes clear, partisan voter suppression tactics with 20th-century roots remain and can thwart multitudes of voters from changing their state’s political leaders.

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The real story behind Trump’s new lawsuit against the New York Times

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Wednesday was an ominous day for freedom of the press in this country, and I want to tell you why.

You may have heard or seen that President Trump filed a libel suit against the New York Times. Perhaps you weren’t surprised: the president is known to frequently disparage the Times even as he reads it obsessively. Borrowing a page from what I’ve referred to before as a Mount Rushmore of totalitarians, Robespierre, Hitler, Stalin and Mao, Trump loves to call the press the “enemy of the people.”

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