Liberty University announces Pompeo as commencement speaker

Liberty University announces Pompeo as commencement speaker

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver Liberty University’s commencement address May 9, the university announced Monday.

“We are gracious to Secretary Pompeo for accepting our invitation to be the keynote speaker,” Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement announcing the news. “Secretary Pompeo is a man who leads our nation with excellence and with a passion for protecting our citizens at home and abroad. He proudly defends the freedoms upon which our country was founded, and he understands and fully supports the faith community and our mission here at Liberty."

Pompeo, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives who previously served as the director of the CIA before moving to the state department, will become the fourth member of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to speak at Liberty’s annual graduation exercises.

In 2017, Trump himself delivered the keynote address to a crowd of more than 50,000 people at Liberty’s Williams Stadium. Last year, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was the featured speaker while U.S Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson also spoke at the ceremony.

In their remarks, both Trump and Pence spoke about their faith and pledged to protect religious liberty while in office.

“As long as I am president no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or preaching what’s in your heart,” Trump said at the time.

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, has long highlighted his faith during his time in public life. He reportedly keeps an open Bible on his desk at the state department and he told the New York Times last year that scripture “informs everything I do.”

Pompeo, a 56-year-old native of Southern California, is a graduate of West Point and Harvard Law School. He spent five years in the army before earning a law degree and entering the private sector as a businessman. He was elected to Congress in 2010 and served four terms representing Kansas’ 4th congressional district.

After serving as the director of the CIA at the start of the Trump administration, Pompeo succeeded Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2018. He briefly considered running for U.S. Senate last year before declining to become a candidate.

Pompeo’s appearance will continue Liberty’s tradition of hosting high-profile political figures at the university's commencement. Former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have both spoken at the event. Other speakers include Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, former Lousianna Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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