Students and alums from a small evangelical college in Indiana have launched a campaign to have Vice President Mike Pence’s invitation to give this year’s commencement speech rescinded.
More than 3,700 people have signed a petition on change.org that calls for the VP to be disinvited from the ceremony at Taylor University in May.
‘Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration’s policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear,’ the petition reads.
The announcement that Pence would be the school’s speaker was made last week.
In a press release, the school’s president, Dr. Paul Lowell Haines, said: ‘Taylor University is pleased and honored to welcome to our campus and its 2019 Commencement exercises, Vice President Mike Pence.’
‘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.
‘We welcome the Vice President and his wife, Karen Pence, to this 173-year-old premier institution of Christian higher education, and thank them for their love and service for our nation, our state, and our institution,’ Haines added.
One Taylor graduate told Fox News that the school ‘should be ashamed … I am physically shaking … I feel personally attacked’
But Taylor officials said they are standing by their decision.
Pence was also recently criticized by Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, who pointed out that the vice president’s policies ‘discriminate’ against gay and lesbian Americans.
Buttigieg, who went from virtual unknown to budding political phenomenon in just weeks, has mentioned Pence – the former governor of his home state of Indiana – multiple times in his speeches.
In a recent address to an LGBTQ organization the rising Democratic star said his same sex marriage had brought him ‘closer to God’.
‘I don’t have a problem with religion, I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people,’ Buttigieg, who if elected would be America’s first gay president, told NBC’s The Ellen Show.
‘I’m not interested in feuding with the vice president. But if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind, that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are.’
Buttigieg, 37, has been mayor of South Bend, Indiana for seven years, while Pence was governor until joining Donald Trump as number two on the ticket in 2016.
Pence and Buttigieg worked together on common-ground issues such as infrastructure but clashed over a 2015 religious freedom bill signed by Pence that Mayor Pete and others warned allowed people to discriminate on religious grounds.
Pence pushed back against Buttigieg’s recent remarks, telling CNN that ‘he said some things that are critical of my Christian faith, and about me personally, and he knows better’.
Speaking at the Victory Fund last week, Buttigieg highlighted his own Christian devotion and how it helps guide him.
And Buttigieg, who married his husband in a church service last year, challenged Pence over opposing same-sex marriage.
‘My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man – and yes Mr Vice President, it has moved me closer to God,’ he said.
‘I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,’ he added.
‘And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me; your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.’
The debate has cast the campaign spotlight on faith, as Democrats challenge the stranglehold that fundamentalist conservatives have on what it means to be Christian, especially in the Trump era.
SOURCE: Daily Mail