DeSantis Ignores His Own Abortion Ban, Attacks So-Called ‘Woke Agenda’ During Visit to Liberty University

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at the Reedy Creek Administration Building, Monday, April 17, 2023, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

By Isabel Soisson

April 19, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Liberty University on April 14 for the school’s Convocation, and used the appearance to appeal to the thousands of evangelical Christian students that attend the school, as well as attack what he describes as the “woke agenda.” 

DeSantis’ visit happened just one day after he signed an anti-abortion bill into Florida law: the legislation bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many women even know they are pregnant.

But DeSantis said little about his abortion ban at Liberty, stating only that he and fellow Florida Republicans “have elevated the importance of family and promoted the culture of life.”

Instead, during his 20-minute speech, DeSantis attacked “woke ideology,” saying that the “woke mind virus represents a war on merit” and achievement. He also called it a “form of cultural Marxism that seeks to use identity politics to divide Americans,” and a “war on truth.”

DeSantis did not specify what exactly he means by any of this, but has used his attacks on “woke ideology” to justify extreme legislation targeting Florida teachers, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants. 

DeSantis also highlighted his ongoing dispute with Disney in his speech. The governor has been involved in a back-and-forth with the mass media and entertainment conglomerate over the thousands of acres that are home to the Magic Kingdom and other theme parks.

The feud between Disney and DeSantis began after the company criticized Florida Republicans’ law to limit discussion of sexual orientation and gender in schools. Shortly after, DeSantis started retaliating against Disney in a variety of ways. GOP leaders including former President Donald Trump and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have called the dispute “unnecessary.”

Although the governor has not formally announced a run for president in 2024, he is widely expected to, and has hinted that he will make an announcement after Florida’s legislative session wraps up in May. 

The Florida governor spoke to about 10,000 students at what the religious University calls “the world’s largest gathering of Christian students.” The school’s Convocation is held on Wednesday and Friday mornings, and each year, the Office of Spiritual Development hosts more than 80 speakers from a variety of fields.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.


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