Pence Addresses Hate Group, Calls LGBTQ People Enemies

He advocates bigotry while advising ‘forgiveness’

James Finn
Aug 7 · 5 min read
Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, speaking at CPAC 2015. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Karen Pence teaches art at a school that bans teachers and students who are LGBTQ, who support LGBTQ people, or who have LGBTQ people living in their households. Art therapists around the US have distanced themselves from her.

“As a Christian believer we’re charged to pray for our loved ones, but also pray for our enemies,” said Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.

He was speaking about LGBTQ advocates while addressing the the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian ‘religious liberty’ organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group.

Answering a question about his wife’s teaching career, the Vice President of the United States made it clear that he considers LGBTQ people to be his enemies. He also doubled down on his insistence that it’s OK for schools to ban teachers and students who are LGBTQ or who have LGBTQ people living in their homes.

According to the SPLC, the ADF is a legal advocacy and training group that since the election of President Trump has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attacks on LGBT rights.

The ADF holds extreme views and takes extreme positions

  • The ADF supports the recriminalization of homosexuality in the US and criminalization abroad
  • The ADF defends state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people
  • The ADF links homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy society
  • The ADF works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion
  • The ADF spreads false information about LGBT sexual practices and health, claiming without basis that LGBT people are generally ‘diseased’ and ‘mentally ill’

Vice President Mike Pence told the ADF Tuesday he was surprised by media criticism of his wife’s decision to teach art at a Christian school, and said he’s gotten lots of practice in forgiving his critics.

“Spend more time on your knees than on the internet,” he told the audience of people who spend their lives working to stop LGBTQ equality. “Forgiveness is a great gift.”

But who needs to forgive whom?

The controversy centers around Karen Pence, who took a job last year teaching art at the Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia. LGBTQ advocates and activists loudly objected , calling her out for setting a horrible example for the nation’s youth.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it was “a terrible message.”

Why? The school will not employ LGBTQ people, those who have LGBTQ people living in their homes, or those who “condone” LGBTQ people or “activities.” They reserve the right to expel any student if they, their parents, or someone in their household engages in ‘homosexual activity’, or supports or condones that behavior. They take the same positions with respect to transgender teachers, students, and household members.

He refused to back down; he knows that excluding members of minorities is morally wrong. And you know what? Nobody thinks he was fighting Christianity. They think he was fighting racism.

According to NBC News, the school’s parent agreement seems to endorse violence, quoting Leviticus 20:13 from the Christian Bible. “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

In short, the school is exclusionary and bigoted, and critics have excoriated the Pences for associating with it, reminding them that discriminating against minorities is morally repugnant. Clubs, schools, and associations restricting access to members of minorities is something more reminiscent of 1950s America than 21st century America.

Nobody is arguing that the school’s policies are illegal, just that they’re morally wrong. Virginia is one of a majority of states in the US that doesn’t protect LGBTQ people from employment discrimination.

Pence’s response has been to take offense —

During an interview with Roman Catholic Eternal World Television Network on Thursday, Pence said that the attacks on the school were offensive to his family. “To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us,” he said.

LGBTQ advocates point out to Mr. Pence and his wife that nobody has attacked Christian education. I’ve searched news reports high and low, and I haven’t been able to find one article saying that Christian education shouldn’t exist or that parents shouldn’t support it.

Advocates are simply observing that homophobic bigotry is wrong, and that religion doesn’t excuse it. Pence makes it sound like homophobic bigotry is required by Christianity, when nothing could be further from the truth.

According to Dartmouth College religion professor Randall Balmer (speaking to NBC News), a small segment of the religious right has “elevated sexuality into a litmus test of faith.” However, those beliefs are out-of-touch with most American Christians and other religious Americans.

According to Balmer, American Christians support LGBTQ equality

Most religious groups in the U.S. support same-sex marriage, according to a 2017 report by the Public Religion Research Institute. The study found approximately two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (67 percent), white Catholics (66 percent), Orthodox Christians (66 percent) and Latino Catholics (65 percent) favor same-sex marriage, along with 77 percent of Jewish Americans, 51 percent of Muslims, 80 percent of Buddhists and 75 percent of Hindus. Opposition to gay marriage, according to the report, “is now confined to a few of the most conservative Christian religious traditions,” including white evangelical Protestants. The study also found majorities of nearly every major religious group in the U.S. now support legal protections against discrimination for LGBTQ Americans.

No one is attacking Christian education

When my father was an evangelical minister in the Deep South in the 1970s, he fought against the institutional racism of the Baptist Church. He refused to bar Black children from our church or from the associated school. Members of the local community and of our church were outraged. They fought him hard, claiming he was violating important Christian principles about separation of the races.

My father refused to give in to racists

He knows that excluding members of minorities is morally wrong. And you know what? Nobody thinks he was fighting Christianity. They think he was fighting racism.

The issue with the Immanuel Christian School is exactly the same

People aren’t outraged because the school is Christian. They’re outraged because of bigotry and discrimination against LGBTQ people. It’s not complicated. Religion is no excuse for hurting people. Most of us learn that in kindergarten.

Religion must not be an excuse for bigotry. Religious people should have the right to practice their religion, certainly, but not as justification for racism, homophobia, or any other philosophy that excludes members of minorities from full participation in society.

Vice President Pence has made it clear that he doesn’t agree with equality for LGBTQ people.

  • First, simply by addressing the Alliance Defending Freedom, he’s thrown his hat in the ring with an extremist hate group whose sole reason for existing is to stop LGBTQ equality.
  • Second, in an extemporaneous moment, he characterized LGBTQ advocates as his enemies.
  • Third, he’s doubled down defending his wife’s position at a school with exclusionary and bigoted policies.

Despite Pence’s mild-sounding language and talk of forgiveness, he reveals himself to be a hardcore homophobe. As a national leader, he’s setting a terrible example.

The Trump/Pence administration has much to answer for, including the normalization of homophobia and transphobia.

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

James Finn

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Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

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