Amid telling graduates of Liberty University that they were entering a reviving nation with a rebounding economy, Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday told them they would also have a hard road to travel because of their Christian faith.
“The America that awaits your energies and ambitions is experiencing a new era of opportunity and optimism. You’re beginning your careers at a time when this economy is growing. And we’ve restored American stature at home and abroad,” Pence said, according to the text of the speech posted by the administration.
“You’re entering an America where you have a president and an administration that is standing strong for all the liberties we cherish: The freedom of speech, the freedom of religion. And we stand without apology for the sanctity of human life,” he said.
But Pence said Liberty’s graduates are entering a world with unprecedented hostility to Christianity, noting that it has “become acceptable and even fashionable to ridicule and even discriminate against people of faith.”
“You know, throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian. It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible,” he said.
“But things are different now. Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. So as you go about your daily life, just be ready. Because you’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith; you’re going to be asked to endorse them. You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture,” he said.
Pence noted the battles faced by people of faith, including his wife, Karen.
“You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that the last administration brought the full weight of the federal government against the Little Sisters of the Poor merely because that group of nuns refused to provide a health plan that violated their deeply held religious beliefs.
“And when the state of Georgia recently was debating legal protections for the unborn, a bevy of Hollywood liberals said they would boycott the entire state,” he said.
“And when my wife, Karen, returned to teach art at an elementary Christian school earlier this year, we faced harsh attacks by the media and the secular Left. And a major newspaper reporter actually started a new hashtag, called ‘Expose Christian Schools,’ inviting students to share their ‘horror stories’ of Christian education,” he said.
Pence’s remarks come on the heels of attacks against Christians such as that of Pennsylvania legislator Brian Sims, who on social media offered a reward for doxing teenage girls who were protesting abortion. Yale’s law school recently said it would pull support of students who intern at pro-Christian employers.
Pence noted that as Liberty graduates start off on their individual roads, they will do it with the Trump administration with them every step of the way.
“I’m proud to report our administration has already taken decisive action to protect religious liberty, and we’ll continue to do just that. And I promise you: We will always stand up for the right of Americans to live, to learn, and to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience,” he said.
“The American people cherish our tradition of religious education, and as President Trump said at this very podium two years ago, on our watch, ‘No one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what is in your heart.’ That’s a promise,” Pence said.
Pence closed by telling graduates, “Have faith. Have faith in yourselves, proven by what you’ve accomplished to get you to this very day. Have faith in the principles and the ideals that you learned here and the noble mission that’s always animated this university. And have faith that He who brought you this far will never leave you, nor forsake you, because He never will.”
Pence was joined by Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who urged graduates to live out their values and speak up for them.
“It’s particularly important in our county right now, because there are forces of political correctness that want you to shut up and not express what you believe,” Carson said, according to The Christian Post.
“We cannot allow our country to be deprived of the Judeo-Christian values that made it into a great nation.”
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