On Tuesday of last week, the White House announced that Karen Pence, wife of vice-president Mike Pence, would teach art at the same school she taught at previously for 12 years (she stopped in 2013 when Pence became governor of Indiana).
Immanuel Christian School, a school in Springfield, Virginia, is, as the name suggests, a Christian school. The announcement that the second lady will return to a teaching role there has drawn a lot of criticism. ICS has a statement of faith that students, and the parents of students, must abide by.
The sixth point on the parents' agreement acknowledges that the school reserves the right to "refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student" if "the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student" include "participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.)"
Note: I have added links to the above Bible verses for the benefit of readers not familiar with them.
An agreement for employees (the link to which no longer appears to be working as I write this post), also included troubling language. “I understand that the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture," read one of the items on the pledge.
With language like that in the agreement, not just for students, but for students' families and the faculty, there has been a lot of criticism levied at Mike and Karen Pence (even Lady Gaga got in on the criticism).
Mike Pence was not about to let all this go, however, after all, he has to defend his and his wife's right to hate people. On Thursday of last week, Pence appeared in an interview for EWTN, or Eternal Word Television Network. In the interview, Pence defends himself, his wife, and his faith against critics.
"To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us," he said. “We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education, and frankly religious education broadly defined. We'll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop,” he continued.
Well, not sorry, bub. Your religion apparently wants to hate on certain demographics, like transgender people, who have much higher than normal suicide rates. LGBTQ youth are almost five times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth.
So, with that in mind Mikey, yes, we are absolutely going to criticize hateful ideologies that attack the most vulnerable members of this population, namely, children.
One of the more amusing reactions to this story is from The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention services for LGBTQ youth who are struggling or considering suicide. They announced on Thursday last week that they were sending 100 copies of the book "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" to Immanuel Christian School along with this note.
If you are a fan of Jon Oliver's "Last Week Tonight," then you might already be familiar with this book. Oliver released the book at the day before the Pence's book about their rabbit (who really is apparently named Marlon Bundo). The Pence's book was written by their daughter Charlotte, and illustrated by Karen. Oliver's book outsold the Pence's book by a wide margin, and, more importantly, features their rabbit (who is male) in love with another boy rabbit! Zing!
The note includes this statement, "Please accept our gift of 'A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo' books, which you may include in your school’s library or classrooms, and share with your family and friends. Combined with school policy changes, we believe these books can help encourage acceptance of LGBTQ young people among your community, and they can be a great first step to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students."
While I am not optimistic that the school will add "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" to their library, I am glad to see so many people and organizations speaking out against the hateful ideology enshrined in Immanuel Christian School's policies and practices.
While it is true that people have freedom of religion in this country, the difference with the Pences is that they now represent the country, and all its people. By taking this job and defending the school's policies, Mike and Karen Pence are sending the message that they do not, and will not, support or represent the interests of any LGBTQ citizens. And that is why we criticize them, Christian faith be damned.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people under 25. If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact them here.