Trump-Pence Ticket Draws Mixed Response From Evangelical Leaders

Effrem referred to Pence backtracking on the religious freedom measure in his state last year. While Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have allowed Christian businesses to refuse service for same-sex weddings based on religious grounds, he oversaw its amendment after criticism from businesses and LGBT activists.

Local pastors also criticized Pence at the time. The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr., part of Indiana Pastors Alliance, told a gathering that Pence and other Republican leaders had failed to "stand for biblical truth." He accused them of a "cowardly capitulation."

"Pence was not only unable to withstand one single news cycle of pressure, he also essentially provided a proof-of-concept for much of the corporate bullying that's happened since," wrote David French of National Review.

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"Pence has done good things in his career, but this capitulation has an enduring and bitter cultural and political legacy. It was an act of surprising and consequential weakness," added French, who worked as a lawyer on religious freedom issues before joining NR, referring to the RFRA. "A candidate whose concern for religious liberty was already suspect [Trump] just selected a symbol of cultural defeat as his running mate. I'm not sure why Christian conservatives would cheer the choice," he wrote.

"Pence is easy to manipulate," agreed Joy Pullmann, managing editor of The Federalist, speculating why Trump may have picked Pence as his running mate. "Indiana was the first state to fall prey in a big way to the new breed of anti-religion, anti-speech activists using gay and trans people to gut the U.S. Constitution," she said.

"Pence not only blinked, he practically got on his knees and begged a tiny minority group whose adherents will never vote for him or his party to stop economically blackmailing his state into abrogating the First Amendment. That's not what leaders do; that's what cowards do," Pullmann added.

Michael Farris, chancellor of Virginia-based evangelical Christian Patrick Henry College, wrote that he likes Pence, but it's not enough to overcome his opposition to Trump.

In a Facebook post before the announcement, he wrote, "Mike [Pence] is a fellow believer. He is the real deal. He is a consistent conservative – perhaps some would find some nits to pick at here and there – but he has one of the most consistent records one would ever find."

But after the official announcement, Farris wrote another post, saying, "I really like Mike Pence. But a nice guy as number 2 doesn't override the natural disaster in the number 1 slot."

David Harsanyi, senior editor at The Federalist, pointed out the many positions where Pence has disagreed with Trump.

At one time, Pence "had some pretty strong and consistent conventional conservative economic position; position that conflict in every way with the overriding message of the Trump candidacy," he noted. But how can Pence "share a ticket with someone who likens trade agreements to rape?" he asked.

"You don't have to have complete unanimity to share a ticket. But trade isn't just some inconsequential position Trump has conveniently landed on — like most of his politics," he wrote.

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