Unfortunately for graduating students around the country, Vice President Mike Pence is on his commencement speech tour. Not too long ago, he delivered a speech at the Evangelical Christian Liberty University, where he reminded students that they’ll be “shunned” for being Christian. Lovely.
Since then, he’s given a commencement speech (video embedded at the bottom of this post) at Taylor University. He used much of the same language, but this time, a portion of both students and faculty walked out in protest before Pence spoke.
“Throughout most of our American history it’s been pretty easy to call yourself a Christian, but things are different now,” Pence said, as reported by The Indianapolis Star. “Lately, it’s become acceptable, even fashionable, to malign traditional Christian beliefs. So as you prepare to leave this place and build your life on a Christ-centered, world-engaging foundation poured here at Taylor University, be prepared to stand up.”
“You picked a great time to graduate from Taylor University,” Pence continued. “The America that awaits your energies and ambitions is experiencing a new era of optimism and opportunity. You’re beginning your careers at a time of a growing American economy and restored American stature at home and abroad.”
If you remember what he said at Liberty, it’s pretty similar.
But why did some people protest at Taylor and not at Liberty? One major difference seems to be that while Taylor is a religious school, it’s a nondenominational Christian liberal arts school, not Evangelical.
“I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed,” said Laura Rathburn, as reported by The Indianapolis Star. Rathburn, who participated in the protest, decorated her hat with a message that said, “Ally Visible For Those Who Can’t Be” with rainbow colors.
The walkout wasn’t terribly surprising, given that thousands of people had already signed an online petition. The goal? For the university to rescind Pence’s invitation.
It’s also not the first time students have protested Pence’s presence. Back in 2017, for example, a group of graduating students at Notre Dame walked out in protest of his policies.
Unfortunately, it seems that most of the graduating class at Taylor, which The Indianapolis Star says was about 494 people, did stay for his speech. He also received a standing ovation. Whether this was about politics or a reluctance to rock the boat is unclear.
Pence, of course, tweeted about the event without mentioning the protest:
Thank you for the warm welcome, Indiana! @SecondLady & I are happy to be home in the Hoosier state. Heading to @TaylorU to offer the commencement address to the class of 2019 at 10:30! pic.twitter.com/tQ6v7nIAhk
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 18, 2019
Next, Pence will speak at West Point. Any guesses as to how that will go over?
If you can manage to watch it, here’s the embed of his address: