Ben Carson rails against "secular progressive" boogeyman at Liberty University

Following the fourth GOP presidential debate, Carson took to the comfortable confines of the Falwell-founded school

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published November 11, 2015 7:36PM (EST)


Fresh off the fourth GOP presidential debate, Ben Carson became the fourth presidential candidate to pay a visit to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University Wednesday morning, where the fervently religious presidential aspirant warned that "secular progressives" are one of the nation's biggest threats and complained, once again, that the news media has conspired to take his campaign down.

Carson warmed up to the students gathered for the mandatory convocation by telling him that that he was once "a horrible student" who never learned much from "boring lectures."

"Everyone called me dummy, that was my nickname" Carson told the crowd, laughing at the "naysayers" who doubted his ability."Everyone called me and dummy and I believed it too."

Carson said he was so motivated to become a doctor that he "would gladly sacrifice a shot just so I could smell the alcohol swipes" in the doctor's office, before thanking his mother for eventually guiding him to success.

He then launched into the religious meat of his address. "We have so many people now who are trying to push God out of our lives. They take the word of God and try to negate it."

"Well let me tell you, our nation’s survival as the pinnacle nation in the world, I believe is rooted in our values system, the values and principles that made us into a great nation," Carson declared.

"The real question is are we willing to stand up for those values and principles, or will we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the secular progressives?" Carson asked before warning against the true threat to American democracy -- apparently not "Islamic terrorism" as Jeb Bush claimed during last night's debate, but so-called "secular progressives."

"The secular progressives don’t care whether you agree with them or not, as long as you sit down and keep your mouth shut, and I think that the secret to the prosperity in this nation is we must be willing to stand up for what we believe in."

Carson argued that the nation's electoral system "is based upon a well-informed and educated populace," and that, "if they ever become anything other than that, the nature of the country will change."

"If the people are not well-informed, all it takes is unscrupulous politicians and news media and off the people go, in the completely wrong direction, listening to all kinds of propaganda and inculcating that into their method of thinking. And then it becomes real easy for them to swallow things," Carson warned the young students who are mandated to attend the thrice-weekly religious gathering at Liberty.

"Isn't that part of the problem with our society today," Carson asked. "People want to force their belief on everybody else."

He then used himself as a prime example of persecution from secular progressives, pointing to the recent media uproar over discrepancies in his personal narrative.

"Trust in the Lord in all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths," Carson said, referencing a Bible verse he claimed to have "clung to" during "all kinds of adversity in my life."

"I cling to it now, when so many in the media you know want to bring me down because I represent something that they can’t stand," Carson explained. "But the fact of the matter is, in Romans chapter 8, it says if God be for you, who can be against you? You don’t have to worry.”

At the end of the speech, a Liberty University official led students in prayer for Carson and his family.

Watch his full speech, via CSPAN:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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