Vice President Mike Pence gave the commencement address at Liberty University over the weekend, and he had strong advice for the graduating class of 2019: be ready to be "shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible." During his commencement speech, Pence spoke from personal experience, referencing several examples of what he called discrimination against faith-based people.
"We live in a time when it's become acceptable and even fashionable to ridicule and even discriminate people of faith," he said.
He pointed to "a bevy of Hollywood liberals," includingdue to a newly-signed abortion bill. He also spoke about the "harsh attacks by the media and the secular left," that he and his wife endured when she decided
Karen Pence came under fire after accepting a job at the northern Virginia school, where she's taught before. The Immanuel Christian School bars employees from engaging in homosexual "sexual activity" and does not condone "transgender identity," according to its employment application.
A "parent agreement" says it will not admit students who participate in or condone "homosexual activity."
"These attacks on Christian education are un-American," Pence said during his speech, noting that the Trump administration has taken action to protect religious liberty. "On our watch, no one is going to prevent you from practicing your faith or preaching what is in your heart," he assured the crowd at the evangelical Christian university.
The vice president told the crowd of "20,000 liberty-loving champions for Christ" that they picked a great time to graduate, "because after two years of the leadership of Donald Trump, jobs are coming back and America is back," he said.
While the graduates are beginning their careers at a time when the economy is growing and unemployment is low, the students still have something to worry about: tolerance for Christian beliefs.
"Throughout most of American history, it's been pretty easy to call yourself Christian," Pence said Saturday. "But things are different now."
"Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs," Pence told the graduates in Lynchburg, Virginia. "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."
Pence's Christian beliefs were recently challenged by Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend Indiana. Pence is from Indiana and previously served as a congressman, then governor of the state before becoming vice president.
Buttigieg referenced the vice president's intolerance of the LGBTQ community during a speech at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington, D.C. last month. "My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man and yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God,".
The presidential hopefulduring an appearance on "Ellen."
"I don't have a problem with religion, I'm religious too," Buttigieg said. "I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people."
In 2015, when both men were serving in Indiana, then-Governor Pence signed a law that critics say unfairly targeted members of the LGBTQ community. Buttigeig, came out just months later.
The law was eventually rolled back amid a national outcry.