Evangelicals in Pence’s Home State are Angry He’s Giving Commencement Speech at Taylor University
Mike Pence has been tabbed to be the commencement speaker at Taylor University, an Evangelical school in his home state of Indiana. That doesn’t seem unusual, Pence’s Christian faith has defined both him and his political beliefs.
What does seem unusual, however, has been the backlash to the speech. Many Evangelicals in the Taylor community believe it is inappropriate to have Pence speak at the ceremony.
A petition created to protest the speech has been signed by 2,700 people since Thursday afternoon. Taylor only has an enrollment of 1,900 students, so this can be seen as a startling number.
Some members of the faculty have spoken out against the decision. A tenured professor told Salon.com, “I immediately became angry and cynical, thinking that our dear seniors were being sold out, that the administration was hedging its bets that they could turn graduation into a political statement and, furthermore, a revenue stream .”
Students like Whitney Martin are also upset. She says of the school’s choice, “The politicization of our graduation is a power play that will only perpetuate the systematic oppression that minorities face within evangelicalism every day. This decision at the expense of the safety of marginalized students, faculty, and staff on campus is an inherently immoral one that goes directly against the Gospel of Christ that Taylor seeks to instill in their students.”
Alumus, Liz Boltz Ranfield, says of the University in general, “Taylor was not a progressive or liberal environment when I was a student there, and yet the faculty modeled a lot of traits and values that should be non-partisan: hospitality, generosity, collaboration, compromise, humility, and curiosity.”
School President, Dr. Paul Lowell Haines is undeterred by the criticism. He said in a statement, “Mr. Pence has been a good friend to the University over many years, and is a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates.”