Mike and Karen Pence: Defending Christian Values in the White House

US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, seen here in November 2018 on a visit to Tokyo, are powerful proponents of religious conservatism in America (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro NOGI)
US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, seen here in November 2018 on a visit to Tokyo, are powerful proponents of religious conservatism in America (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro NOGI)

On page 11 of an application to work at a private Christian school in Virginia, teachers are bluntly asked to pledge to “maintain a lifestyle based on biblical standards of moral conduct.”

It goes on to say banned conduct includes, but is not limited, to: “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g. premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity” or “any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.”

Students at the Immanuel Christian School — who range in age from five to 14 — are also banned from engaging in “homosexual or bi-sexual activity,” according to an agreement parents must sign before enrollment.

Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen is once again teaching art at the school in Washington’s suburbs — sparking anger from gay rights advocates who say it sends the wrong message from the inner circles of US power.

“We’ll let the critics roll off our backs,” Pence said in an interview with Catholic television network EWTN. But he added: “The criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”

Of course, the Pence family’s brand of religious conservatism is exactly why Donald Trump chose him as a running mate in July 2016.

– Pro-prayer, anti-abortion –

At that time, Pence was the governor of Indiana and a former congressman with a low national profile.

He had a few crowning achievements to boast of — a state anti-abortion law and a “religious freedom law” that said individuals and companies wishing not to serve gay and lesbian customers could cite a “substantial burden” on their religious beliefs as a reason.

An amendment was eventually passed to provide protections for LGBT citizens.

The anti-abortion law added limits to access, banning those motivated by the fetus’s race, gender or disability. But it was eventually blocked in the courts.

Nevertheless, the two initiatives had burnished Pence’s reputation as a champion of the religious right.

Since taking office as vice president, the 59-year-old Pence — who seems to make it his business not to make waves — regularly appears alongside the 45th president of the United States.

In meetings, he often takes a back seat, his lips sealed and his head nodding in approval. When he speaks in public, he never misses a chance to voice his admiration for the man who brought him back to Washington.

On the face of it, they could not be more different — Trump is brash, twice divorced, vocal about his sexual conquests and doesn’t seem to have a tight grasp on biblical passages.

Pence meanwhile said last year: “I do try and start every day reading the Bible. My wife and I try to have a prayer together before I leave the house every morning.”

On Thursday, the vice president was set to host a roundtable for pro-abortion rights activists on the eve of the March for Life, a major annual anti-abortion rally in Washington.

Pence was the first vice president to speak at the march in 2017.

“We will not rest, until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity,” Pence told the crowd.

– The fight continues –

Mike and Karen Pence met at church — an evangelical Protestant congregation. One in four Americans associates with the movement.

Today, they are often seen holding hands when they are together in public. Pence often begins his tweets by saying, “Karen and I are praying for…”

They are reportedly inseparable — a fact that sometimes sparks mockery.

In 2002, Mike Pence, then a lawmaker, infamously told The Hill that he never ate alone with a woman other than Karen, and that he would not accept an invitation to an event where alcohol was being served if she were not there.

“If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,” Pence told the Washington paper.

While he has often joked about his traditional views of coupledom, he has never denied them.

Karen Pence, 62, shares her husband’s conservative beliefs.

In 1991, she wrote to The Indianapolis Star newspaper to complain about an article that, she claimed, encouraged children to think they were gay or lesbian, according to a copy of the letter released by The Washington Post.

Since that time, gay marriage has become the law of the land — legal across the country.

But there is no explicit federal ban on discriminating against someone for their sexual orientation, which allows employers like the Immanual Christian School to maintain its rules against “sexual immorality.”

For the Pences, as for other evangelicals, the battle continues.

SOURCE: Ivan Couronne, AFP

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