The Freedom From Religion Foundation is thanking Mike Pence this week for his role in supporting the organization’s mission to strengthen and uphold the wall between church and state. Since the conservative Christian Republican was named as Donald Trump’s choice for Vice President, church-state separation activists have expressed concern. The watchdog organization Freedom From Religion Foundation rallied supporters around that concern, and to date says it has received $104,829 donated in the name of opposing Mike Pence and his political agenda.
In an announcement this week, FFRF reiterated the promise of their fundraising and activism campaign.
“Send a message to Mike Pence and his boss: The only wall we need is between church and state. Your gift to FFRF’s legal fund in Mike Pence’s name will be subversive (and deductible for income tax purposes). We’ll use your kind donation to fight the imposition of religion by our government under the guise of ‘religious liberty.’ We’ll put your donation to work to shore up the fence Pence needs to honor: the wall of separation between state and church.”
Mike Pence is known for introducing himself by saying, “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”
As that statement indicates, he often brings his religious beliefs into his political actions, using official channels to promote his conservative Christian beliefs.
Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor called on Vice President Pence in their statement to consider a different list of priorities.
“First) Americans; Second) public officials cognizant they have taken an oath of office to uphold a godless Constitution; and Third) citizens who do not misuse the authority of their secular office to promote their personal viewpoints on religion.”
To this end, they’ve sent Mike Pence a letter informing him of the donations made in his name by nearly 2,000 supporters across the nation.
The FFRF points to specific actions in which Mike Pence, has, in different political roles, influenced or attempted to influence law and policy based on his religious beliefs. These include supporting “personhood” amendments that would limit or prevent legal access to abortions, Religious Freedom laws that have been interpreted as a license to discriminate against LGBT individuals, and continued efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
A video from 2011, posted to Mike Pence’s own YouTube channel, shows the Vice President (then a Congressional representative for Indiana) arguing for defunding Planned Parenthood, asserting that videos demonstrate the organization’s complicity in sex trafficking. (Media Matters reported that the videos Pence cited were proven to be heavily edited and that in fact, contrary to claims, Planned Parenthood reported the suspected sexual abuse to the FBI.)
In 2007, Mike Pence also co-sponsored a Personhood Bill, which read in part the following.
“Defines ‘human being’ to encompass all stages of life, including but not limited to the moment of fertilization or cloning.”
It’s a definition that some have argued would make many contraceptives illegal, since they may prevent pregnancy by not permitting a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. Pence has weighed in in favor of other, similar “personhood” legislation since.
As Governor of Indiana, in 2015, Mike Pence’s Freedom of Religion Restoration Act resulted in so much backlash that Pence penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, promising readers that he didn’t intend for the law to be a “license to discriminate.”
“If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”
However, listing Mike Pence’s statements on LGBT rights, Time includes Pence’s opposition to a bill that would have protected employment rights for LGBT individuals, opposition to the overturn of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and opposition to protections for transgender individuals’ safe access to public restrooms.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation says they will continue to campaign for donations to oppose Mike Pence “as long as the threat….continues.”
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]