On May 11, 2019, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the graduating class of Liberty University. While Pence’s speech was full of positivity and encouragement, he warned the graduates that they will be asked to “bow down to the idols of popular culture” as they enter the workforce in the U.S.
“We live in a time when the freedom of religion is under assault,” Pence told the crowd.
Before his speech took a cautionary tone, though, Pence reminded the group they have reason to celebrate. In addition to passing along the “congratulations and greetings of President Donald Trump,” Pence commended the group for representing the largest graduating class of Liberty to date. He also extolled the students for logging half a million hours of community service.
The Vice President said it was a “great time to graduate” since there are currently more jobs available in the U.S. than there are people looking for work. His own staff at the White House includes four Liberty alumni, Pence said.
Like a true politician, Pence did not miss the opportunity to sing the praises of the administration he serves. He briefly described how the Trump administration was committed to the cause of “expanding freedom” by doing things like cutting taxes, rolling back regulatory measures put in place by the previous administration, nominating conservative judges to federal courts throughout the country, and standing for the sanctity of human life.
Pence Is Concerned by the Rise in Persecution of Christians
About half-way through his half-hour talk, Pence shifted gears and drew attention to the dangers Christians face throughout the world. He cited a report that is forthcoming from the United Kingdom that indicates the killing of Christians has nearly reached the level of genocide in some areas of the world. Christians, Pence says and other sources confirm, suffer more than any other religious group.
It used to be relatively easy to be a Christian in the U.S., Pence said, but not so anymore. “You’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith, you’re going to be asked to endorse it. You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.”
Pence also mentioned the recent attacks on houses of worship as an example of religious freedom being under “assault.” He spoke specifically of the mosque bombing in New Zealand, the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, the synagogue shootings in Pennsylvania and California, and the three churches in Louisiana that were burned. “No one should ever fear for their safety in a place of worship,” Pence said emphatically, adding “attacks on people of faith must stop.”
Pence visited Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Louisiana, one of the churches that was attacked by arsonists. He commended Pastor Toussaint of Mt. Pleasant for extending forgiveness to the arsonists and thereby helping his community overcome “evil with good.”
Mike Pence Knows What It’s Like to Be Criticized for Faith
Bringing up the recent “harsh attacks” his wife, Karen Pence, faced for teaching at a Christian school, Pence brought the persecution discussion to a personal level. He lamented the fact that a reporter started the hashtag #exposechristianschools after his wife started the job, with the intention of discrediting Christian education. Pence called such attacks on Christian education “un-American.”
Pence implied that the previous administration had a hand in causing the discrimination of people of faith “fashionable.” He referred to an Obama-era court battle involving the Little Sisters of the Poor and their objection to providing certain government-mandated medical services for their employees. Pence said the Obama administration brought the “full weight of the federal government” down on the Little Sisters of the Poor, but implied the Trump administration was serving groups like this by standing up for people of faith.
Pence’s Great Liberty Commission
Pence started to wrap up his speech with a great commission of sorts. He told the graduating students they need to prepare their minds for action. “You need to show that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time, through words and deeds,” he said.
“If like Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego you end up in the fire, there will be another in the fire,” Pence said, nodding his head as a way of acknowledging the crowd understood the reference to the story from the book of Daniel.
Pence ended his speech with a play on 2 Corinthians 3:17, saying “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”