An evangelical pastor claims he was kicked off campus at Liberty University for protesting the administration’s support for President Donald Trump.
Pastor Jonathan Martin claims he was threatened with arrest after he was removed from campus Monday night following a pop concert and given a citation, reported The News & Advance.
Martin called out university president Jerry Falwell Jr. on Twitter after giving an interview to the right-wing Breitbart News, where he said voters should remove “fake Republicans” who don’t support the Trump agenda.
The pastor called for a protest on the Liberty campus, and he criticized both Falwell and Breitbart boss Steve Bannon — Trump’s former White House chief strategist.
“Let’s be clear: Steve Bannon is a brazen white supremacist & the high priest of a false religion. He blasphemes the Holy Spirit,” Martin tweeted.
Martin attended a campus concert by JOHHNYSWIM, and he said later that he was removed by university police while visiting band members backstage at their invitation.
Officers took his photograph and threatened to arrest him if he returned to Liberty’s campus.
“Liberty treated me like a criminal, which gets right at the heart of the cancer of the Trump phenomenon and its evangelical supporters,” Martin told The Atlantic. “One of the reasons that so many evangelicals are drawn to Trump is because we have a lot of authoritarian leaders ourselves. We’re drawn to these kinds of leaders because we’ve formed our people in this way.”
Falwell told the newspaper that Martin was removed due to unspecified security concerns after campus police learned of his planned protest through social media.
“Our tradition has been to not allow uninvited protests,” Falwell said, pointing out Liberty was not a publicly funded university. “It’s a private school, it’s private property, go somewhere else to protest.”
Martin had planned to pray with Liberty students, who have been critical of Falwell’s support for Trump, early Tuesday morning as part of a protest outside the Jerry Falwell Library, named for the university’s founder and the current president’s late father.
The university president suggested the protest would turn violent, referring to a recent white supremacist march in Charlottesville that left a counter-protester dead.
“He wanted to showboat, he wanted to get some attention,” Falwell said. “If we allowed him to come on campus and protest uninvited, then the next group that comes in might be a violent group, and we’ve seen recently what that can lead to.”
The protest went on without Martin the morning after his removal, as about 15 students gathered to pray, but one of the participants said several campus police officers stood by and watched.
JOHNNYSWIM members said they were surprised when officers entered their dressing room to remove Martin.
“[It’s] just a very weird thing for a Christian school to do, especially one that shows such great hospitality,” said band member Abner Ramirez.
— Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) October 31, 2017