Mike Pence told Liberty University’s graduating class to “be ready” to be hated for their beliefs.
Pence was speaking at the Christian university’s 2019 commencement this weekend. He warned them that they are a part of America’s most marginalized group of people: Christians.
“Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” he said, adding that they will be “shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible.”
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“As you go about your daily life, just be ready because you’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith, you’re going to be asked to endorse them. You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.”
He said that “attacks on Christian education” are “un-American,” a line that he has used repeatedly when discussing his wife Karen’s choice to work at a school that bans LGBTQ people.
Pence’s defense of Karen’s school and his words at Liberty University conflate homophobia and transphobia with Christianity, as if hating LGBTQ people is intrinsic to the religion.
Pence told the graduates that their lives will be ones of struggle since some people will get mad at them for imposing their religious beliefs on others.
“Decide here and now that you’re going to stand firm,” he said. “You’ll always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have, and you’ll do so with gentleness and respect.”
It’s unlikely that anyone who is going to discriminate against LGBTQ people needs to be told to, and doing so “with gentleness and respect” doesn’t really change the fact that their political beliefs are neither gentle nor respectful.
Pence’s defensiveness at least shows that public criticism has gotten to him.
He is scheduled to deliver another commencement address at Taylor University in Indiana next week.