During his appearance at Dordt on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016, while he was praising the loyalty of his supporters, Trump stated, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
Dordt’s president, Erik Hoekstra has responded to the comment, saying the college doesn’t support the “odd and inappropriate comment”. In his statement, however, Hoekstra says they will continue to welcome Presidential candidates to their campus, citing their students’ wisdom to discern “what Christ-like leadership looks like.”
Dordt has extended an invitation to all Presidential candidates, including those from both major parties to speak at Dordt. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush will visit Dordt on Friday, January 29. Bush is scheduled to speak at 6:45 p.m. Friday in the Campus Center at Dordt.
Prior to Mr. Trump’s visit to Dordt College, I wrote an open letter to explain Dordt College’s reasons and rationale behind inviting candidates of both parties to our campus. I continue to stand behind the decision to allow our students and the broader community to have first-hand access to the American political process and capture the unique opportunities we have in Iowa as the first state to cast actual votes each presidential cycle.
In that statement, I said, “Each time a candidate comes to campus, I have a certain sense of ‘cringe’ for what it says to our students—political speeches are always full of broad-brush promises about what the candidate will do. There isn’t a candidate or party that can be 100% biblical or reformational—at least it seems that way to me. Opening our facilities to political candidates in no way implies an endorsement of their views.” I continue to stand by that statement.
Today’s comment by Mr. Trump regarding the loyalty of his followers, namely that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” went far beyond a broad-brush promise about his policies or plans for our country. In no way do I, nor does the college, support such an odd and inappropriate comment. I have no concept of why Mr. Trump thought that was an apt example to highlight the loyalty of his followers.
However, we will continue to invite candidates to our campus. Our students can handle such comments and they are wise enough to discern what Christ-like leadership looks like. I also trust our faculty and staff to walk with students through the important process of putting their faith into action in every area of life. I’ve talked with many students about the various candidate visits, including conversations with students today after Mr. Trump’s visit, and our students are all more discerning about how to vote in the upcoming caucus because of this first-hand access.
If people are wondering about Dordt College and our application of Scripture to everyday challenges, I’d say: Come study with us. We won’t spoon-feed you the answers to every question, but you’ll grow in your faith in Jesus Christ and be challenged to put real-world decisions into the context of Scripture—and we’ll walk with you through that process.