Since ascending to the vice presidency, and even before that, Mike Pence has become the avatar of alleged anti-LGBT bias in the United States. It is a mantle that he neither deserves nor has courted. This week, Pete Buttigieg was the latest to thrust this defamation on Pence. Buttigieg says that it was his creator who made him gay, and if Pence has a problem with that he has a problem with Buttigieg’s creator. Hint: Pence doesn’t have a problem with anyone’s creator.
So let’s see what Pence had to say about Mayor Pete back in 2015, when basically nobody knew who he even was.
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) April 9, 2019
Not exactly fire and brimstone.
The roots of this allegation against the vice president seem to be twofold. One, he signed into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015 and two, he is a devout Christian. With the latter comes the fact that Pence believes marriage is only something that should happen between a man and a woman. Its important to remember that notwithstanding a recent Supreme Court ruling, that was a position held by the Democratic nominee for president as recently as a 2008.
As to the RFRA, that, too, is modeled on a law signed by the previous Democratic president Bill Clinton. Essentially, it states that when the government seeks to limit religious freedom, it must do so in the narrowest way possible. Achieving the goal of the state, such as equal access to flower shops for gay couples, in the way that least forces the hand of citizens who object to gay marriage. None of this makes Pence a bigot, so why is constantly portrayed as one?
Part of the problem here is the growing religious illiteracy among Americans. They know that Pence, like many practicing Christians, views homosexual activity as a sin, but they don’t really know what that means. Yes, two men having sex is by most Christian denominations viewed as a sin. But so is adultery, so is sex before marriage, in some cases so is sex within marriage not intended solely for procreation. Frankly, as a Catholic, it’s hard to even wake up in the morning without committing some old sin or other.
In order to understand how Christians view the concept of sin, it is useful to look at another controversial Mike Pence practice. He will not have dinner alone with a woman who is not his wife. Though widely scoffed at, it is worth looking at why Pence has made this decision. It is precisely because he knows and acknowledges that he himself is a sinner and capable of sin. It is his own fallen nature and that of all of us that he protecting himself against.
And while we are on the subject of religion, it is useful to point out the aspects of modern progressivism that resemble nothing so much as a new religion. Progressivism asserts metaphysical claims—such as the idea that men can wish themselves into being women—and demands this pixie dust be accepted as fact. And for those who refuse to believe in this fiction, or in gay marriage, or that the world is ending in 12 years due to climate change, the punishment is the classic religious one of shame.
What is particularly perverse about the progressive religion is that it isn’t even one that people opt into. It is foisted upon everyone—well, almost everyone. As my colleague Libby Emmons pointed out in a recent article, when white feminists in the UK objected to trans ideology being taught to elementary school kids, they were mocked, called bigots, and shamed, but when Muslims in the UK rejected this notion, the program stopped and their religious beliefs were honored.
As always for progressives, if you can claim identity in an oppressed class, the basic rules don’t apply. But if you’re basically just a white person with no identifiers to grant you amnesty, you are assumed to be a member of the progressive religion and subject to its shaming rules.
Mike Pence is not oppressed. He is white, straight, cis, male, able bodied and vice president of the United States. Maybe worst of all, he is a practicing and faithful Christian. But he doesn’t hate gay people. He doesn’t think gay people shouldn’t serve their country and communities. He holds his gay fellow citizens in high esteem, even if he views their sexual practices sinful.
There is a reason that religions create rules around sexuality, and why most forms of sex are considered sinful. In the Christian context, the rules were mainly created to support family stability. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t been used to oppress women or sexual minorities, but those are not the purpose of religious rules.
Having abandoned almost all of them now, we have a society with extreme sexual dysfunction; millennials aren’t having sex, porn is everywhere, and we can barely replace our own population while environmentalists tell us having kids is bad. It’s worth considering whether Mike Pence holding on to some of the old rules might just make a bit a sense. In any event, the man is not a bigot, nor are the vast majority of Christians. This is a slur against the vice president which really should stop.