Christians should prepare to be persecuted for their beliefs, Vice President Mike Pence told graduates during a commencement address at Liberty University on Saturday.
“It’s become acceptable, and even fashionable to ridicule and discriminate against people of faith,” said Pence during his speech on May 11.
The Vice President cited the case against the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as the reaction to his wife, Karen Pence, taking a job teaching art at a Christian elementary school as instances of a growing religious intolerance in American public life.
“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,” he added. Immanuel Christian School, where Mrs. Pence teaches art, requires that students and employees profess faith in Jesus Christ as well as follow certain moral codes.
After Mrs. Pence announced her new job, a reporter started the hashtag “#ExposeChristianSchools” and encouraged people to share negative experiences with Christian education. On Saturday, Pence described these incidents as “attacks on Christian education,” which he said were “un-American.”
“Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” said Pence, warning the graduates to “be ready.” He also said that Liberty grads may soon have to endorse things that they find contrary to their faith, as “things are different now.”
“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,” said Pence.
Liberty University, which is located in Lynchburg, Virginia, is the largest private university in the United States, as measured by total enrollment. It was founded by Jerry Falwell, an evangelical Southern Baptist Christian pastor who passed away in 2007.
Since Falwell’s death, the school has been led by Jerry Falwell Jr., his son. The younger Falwell has been a vocal supporter of President Trump, who he once referred to as a “dream president” for evangelical Christians.
Pence told the graduates that the administration was committed to defending religious liberty.
“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,” said Pence.