Mike Pence’s commencement speech at a Christian university was disrupted on Saturday when a group of students and faculty members walked out in a protest of President Donald Trump’s policies.
Pence was delivering a speech to graduates at Taylor University, a Christian institution in Pence’s home state of Indiana. As Newsweek reported, dozens of graduating seniors and faculty members stood and walked out of the event in protest, while others remained in the graduation ceremony but protested by wearing buttons that read “I am Taylor Too” to show that there are a variety of viewpoints among the Christian university.
The protest against Mike Pence’s speech had been many days in the making, with the efforts being organized through a Change.org petition. The petition characterized Pence’s invitation to deliver the commencement speech as an affront to the university’s Christian ideals.
“Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration’s policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear,” the petition read.
The petition called on the university to rescind the invitation to Pence, or for graduates to lodge their complaint.
Though Mike Pence has been known as a conservative Christian politician, he has also come under fire from a number of other Christian and Christian groups for the actions of the Trump administration toward immigrants and LGBTQ groups. Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, himself a devout Christian, recently blasted the vice president for what he aid were “homophobic policies” advanced by the Trump administration. As NBC News reported, Buttigieg said he doesn’t know what is in Pence’s heart, but in the end that didn’t matter.
Pete Buttigieg is accusing Mike Pence of advancing "homophobic policies," saying that while he doesn't know whether Pence is truly homophobic, his policies are "hurting other people" just the same. https://t.co/zVUhc5LRbk— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 17, 2019
“If you’re in public office and you advance homophobic policies, on some level it doesn’t matter whether you do that out of political calculation or whether you do it out of sincere belief,” said Buttigieg, the only openly gay candidate in the race.
Many have taken aim at the administration’s treatment of immigrants, especially the “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants that called for children to be separated from their parents and placed in detention centers. Now more than a year after Trump backed away from the policy in the face of widespread worldwide criticism, many children remain separated from their parents due to spotty record keeping from the Trump administration.