Last week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told the New York Times that he doesn’t understand why the terms “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” are offensive. Though King’s racism has been well-established, House Republicans made a show of denouncing the comments and on Monday stripped King of his committee assignments. President Trump has yet to comment. Same goes for Vice President Pence, although on Friday an aide to the vice president authorized to comment on background told Rolling Stone that “Congressman King’s comments were abhorrent and unacceptable and House Republican leadership was right to take disciplinary action.”
The response capped off what turned out to be a nice little week of bigotry for the vice president.
Just as King was confused as to why people are so offended by white supremacy, Pence on Thursday expressed frustration that his wife Karen, the second lady, has been criticized for taking a teaching job at a school that bars LGBTQ faculty and students. “My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while, we’re used to the criticism,” Pence told Christian cable network EWTN. He added that “major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”
PREVIEW — @VP @mike_pence responds to critics of @SecondLady's new job. "The criticism of Christian education in America should stop." Tune in tonight for part one of my full interview with the Vice President on @EWTNNewsNightly at 7 PM EST on @EWTN. pic.twitter.com/YKEHyroswC
— Lauren Ashburn (@LaurenAshburn) January 17, 2019
Earlier this week, it was reported that Karen Pence has been teaching art courses at the Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The school’s employment application asks applicants to sign a pledge to “live a personal life of moral purity.” The application defines moral misconduct as “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.”
The school also asks parents of students to sign an agreement acknowledging that the school may expel any student who does not embody “biblical lifestyle.” According to the agreement, “condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity” constitutes a violation.
Pence doesn’t see anything wrong with this. “We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and, frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it,” the vice president said on Thursday. “The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding a public office and so we’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”
Pence has long used Christianity as a cover for his bigotry, as Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) pointed out Friday morning.
Dear @VP: I'm a follower of Christ. You know what Jesus said about homosexuality? NOTHING. But he did say a lot about love.
Stop cloaking your hate in your purported religious beliefs. It's just hate. https://t.co/ydLovTttsx
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 18, 2019
Pence cites the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom as a justification for his hate. Also constitutional is a woman’s right to have an abortion, as was decided by Supreme Court in 1973. Pence doesn’t quite agree with the latter protection. On Friday, he appeared at a March For Life event in Washington, D.C., to rail against the landmark decision. “We urge you to stand strong,” Pence said. “Stand with that love and compassion as you stand for life. And know that we will stand with you until that great day comes where we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law.”
The vice president then introduced President Trump, who gestured wildly as he spoke of “the beauty of the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation.” So deeply was the president contemplating the miracle of life that he forgot to rant to the pro-lifers about the need for a border wall. Truly inspiring. The same can’t be said for Trump’s speech at the Pentagon on Thursday. “This morning I also would like to briefly address another matter of critical national security: the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” Trump said after briefly expressing condolences to the families of the three Americans killed in Syria a day earlier. “Without a strong border, America’s defenseless, vulnerable and unprotected.”
Despite Pence’s loving introduction at the March For Life rally on Friday, there is no greater affront — not even the existence of LGBTQ citizens — to the vice president’s hollow morality than the president, to whom he supplicates unconditionally. Trump is a twice-divorced racist, an alleged sexual abuser who almost certainly had an affair with an adult film star months after his third wife gave birth. Pence has no problem endorsing Trump — and, in turn, his views — so long as the president will appoint Supreme Court justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pence spoke on Friday of the “compassion and love” that define the pro-life movement. Unlike that of his savior, however, Pence’s empathy is not unconditional. Just ask the millions of LGBTQ Americans the vice president believes are flawed in the eyes of God.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the vice president referred Rolling Stone to the comments Pence made Thursday on EWTN.
This post has been updated to include a quotation from Vice President Pence’s team which was received after publication.