Mike Pence, our anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, and astoundingly archaic vice president, gave the 2019 commencement address at Liberty University. For some background, Liberty University is a private, Evangelical Christian school. It’s located in Lynchburg, Virginia and, for undergraduates, costs more than $20,000 per year in tuition and fees alone.
“Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence warned the graduating class on Saturday. “Be ready.”
Ah yes, those “traditional Christian beliefs” that involve women not really being people and queer people facing discrimination and violence. Remember when Pence, during his first run for Congress, wanted to shift federal funding from HIV research to conversion therapy? That’s his version of Christianity.
In particular, he warned against the secular left, the media, and Hollywood.
“Throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian,” Pence continued, which is perhaps the closest he’s gotten to admitting that he has been incredibly privileged his entire life. “It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now.”
Pence talked about “harsh attacks” he said they faced when Karen, his wife, decided to teach at a Christian elementary school which bans LGBTQ students and teachers. Of course, Pence tried to bill her as having a brave face, returning to this school in order to teach art. How easy would it be for his wife to find an art-teaching opportunity at an institution that doesn’t have regressive, discriminatory enrollment policies? So easy.
Like everything else, this bigotry is a calculated choice.
Literally nowhere in this speech does Pence encourage graduates to be open-minded, accepting, or to broaden their world views. Instead, he basically encouraged people to be as self-righteous and strong-willed as possible. In fact, he revs them up to prepare for this anti-Christian backlash wherever they go.
“The truth is we live in a time when the freedom of religion is under assault,” the vice president alleged. “Yesterday I was informed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that, today, Christians suffer more persecution around the world than any other religion.”
Around the world! Hmm.
The Trump administration, of course, gets a big shoutout from Pence.
“You are entering an America where you have a president and an administration that are standing strong for all the liberties we cherish,” Pence continued. “And we stand without apology for the sanctity of human life.”
Of course, as we all know, he’s referring to the sanctity of embryos, not that of an actual pregnant person.
If you’re able to stomach the speech in full, here’s the video, courtesy of YouTube: