Evangelist Franklin Graham finds it unfathomable that some students and alumni at Taylor University in northeast Indiana would not be thrilled that Vice President Mike Pence accepted an invitation to speak at the Christian college’s commencement next month.
Alex Hoekstra, a 2007 Taylor graduate, launched an online petition calling for Pence’s invitation to be rescinded due to his alleged un-Christian views.
“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, in part.
As of Tuesday afternoon, it has garnered approximately 4,500 signatures, including alumni, faculty, staff, parents, current students, and others who are not affiliated with the university, but want to simply let “the Taylor administration know how you feel.”
Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday, “For the life of me I don’t understand this. Some students and alumni at Taylor University in Indiana, a Christian college, are objecting to Vice President Mike Pence speaking at their upcoming graduation commencement.
“They should be absolutely thrilled. But instead, this group started a petition to rescind the invitation because they say the Administration is ‘not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.’ What are these people smoking?”
Graham pointed out that Pence recently described himself during a CNN interview as a “Bible-believing Christian.”
The preacher praised Taylor University president, Paul Lowell Haines, for standing by his invitation to Pence, describing the former Indiana governor as a “good friend of the university for years” and “a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates.”
CNN’s Dana Bash asked Pence to respond to Democratic presidential hopeful, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s criticism of the vice president’s beliefs about same-sex marriage and related issues.
Questioned whether he agreed with Buttigieg’s assertion that God made the mayor gay, Pence responded, “all of us have our own religious convictions. Pete has his convictions, I have mine.”
“I hope that Pete will offer more to the American people than attacks on my Christian faith or attacks on the President as he seeks the highest office in the land,” the vice president added. “He’d do well to reflect on the importance of respecting the freedom of religion of every American.”
.@VP @Mike_Pence is right about Mayor @PeteButtigieg’s attacks. The Vice President said, “I think Pete’s quarrel is with the First Amendment. All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs. I’m a Bible-believing Christian.”https://t.co/eCwCe5iGEg
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) April 12, 2019
“I think Pete’s quarrel is with the First Amendment. All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs. I’m a Bible-believing Christian,” Pence said.
Pence’s view of marriage is consistent with how Jesus Christ defined it in the Bible. Quoting from the book of Genesis, Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’
“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Taylor University’s website recognizes this Biblical understanding of marriage.
“All human beings are created in God’s image and are, therefore, of immeasurable value (Gen. 1:26-27),” the school’s statement on human sexuality reads. “Our male and female genders are also a part of God’s original good creation, and our sexuality is to be celebrated. The God-ordained context for virtuous sexual expression and procreation is marriage, a sacred covenant between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:4-6; Heb. 13:4).”
The nondenominational college founded in 1846 says, “Taylor University has proudly stood for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hosted countless people who have impacted the world with those same values.”
Amy Peterson — an adjunct professor at Taylor — wrote an Op-Ed for The Washington Post explaining why she and others affiliated with the university are upset by Pence’s invitation.
“Taylor, an institution without denominational ties, has a chance to be a place where deeply divisive political questions on issues like racism, immigration policy and sexual ethics can be faithfully worked through by Christians from many backgrounds,” she wrote.
“But giving Pence a position of honor makes that difficult, if not impossible. It doesn’t build bridges; instead, it ratchets up the already-high level of division and distrust on campus.”
Further, “Inviting Pence reinforces the creeping conflation of ‘evangelical’ with ‘Republican.’”
According to Peterson, 49 faculty members support Pence coming and 61 oppose it.
Peterson suggested inviting former President Barack Obama would have been a better choice because it would have been seen as a message of “reconciliation.”
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