Thousands of students, alumni and supporters of Taylor University, a Christian college in Indiana, are calling on school officials to disinvite Vice President Mike Pence as their commencement speaker because his politics are “not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.”
“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,” Alex Hoekstra, a 2007 graduate of Taylor, wrote in a Change.org petition he launched on Friday, which has already garnered more than 4,000 signatures.
Founded in 1846, Taylor University describes itself as a premier, nondenominational, Christian liberal arts university and the number one college in the Midwest.
Taylor’s president, Paul Lowell Haines, announced Pence as the school’s 2019 commencement speaker in a release last Thursday.
“Taylor University is pleased and honored to welcome to our campus and its 2019 Commencement exercises, Vice President Mike Pence,” Haines said. “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.”
The petition has triggered divided opinions about Taylor’s decision to invite Pence.
“I attended Taylor University for two years in 1974-75 and am upset that TU has invited VP Mike Pence to speak. His actions in office have not reflected any Christian values that I recognize. He has been judgmental and divisive. His unwillingness to speak out when President Trump puts children in cages is the antithesis of Christianity,” Sara Hare wrote on the petition Tuesday.
Others like Velma Landrum argued that Pence should be allowed to speak.
“Many of my kids teachers graduated from Taylor. I thought it was a strong Christian school. It seems that no place is immune from the left liberal agenda. I think Pence should be allowed to speak and welcomed with respect!” she wrote.
Also weighing in on the controversy on Tuesday was Rev. Franklin Graham, who serves as president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Protesters, he argued, “should be absolutely thrilled” that Pence will be speaking at the school.
“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,’” he wrote in a statement on Facebook.
“What are these people smoking? This reminds me of Paul’s words, ‘You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?’ (Galatians 3:1). Vice President Mike Pence recently told CNN that he is ‘a Bible-believing Christian.’ Is that what they are objecting to? I appreciate the fact that Taylor’s president, Paul Lowell Haines, has stood firm on the decision to invite the vice president and publicly praised him as a ‘good friend to the University over many years,’ and ‘a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates.’ There couldn’t be a better, more qualified, more inspirational speaker for graduates to hear from or a better example for them to follow in life. Thank you Mr. Vice President,” Graham said.