Vice President Mike Pence, who’s notorious for his anti-LGBT record, responded Thursday to criticism over his wife Second Lady Karen Pence teaching at a school that excludes LGBT teachers and students, calling criticism of the Christian institution “deeply offensive.”
Pence made the remarks during an interview with EWTN Global Catholic Network in response to reporter Lauren Ashurn’s inquiry over the criticism.
“My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while but I have to tell you, to see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive,” Pence said. “We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and, frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it. The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.”
Pence’s own anti-LGBT history includes as signing as Indiana governor a “religious freedom” law seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination and a U.S. House campaign statement in 2000 indicating HIV/AIDS funds should be contingent upon funding to encourage people to change their “sexual behavior,” which many have interpreted to be an endorsement of widely discredited conversion therapy. (Pence has since denied that is what the campaign statement meant.)
Criticism of Karen Pence and her decision to teach at the Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Va., which does not allow LGBT students or families to enroll and won’t employ LGBT applicants, emerged this week after media outlets reported on the school’s policy and Karen Pence’s decision to return there after 12 years to teach art.
The parent agreement for Immanuel Christian School states the institution can refuse admission and discontinue if the atmosphere of a student’s home is contrary to biblical teaching, which includes “condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity,”
In the employment application, teachers and other staffers must agree to not engage in “moral misconduct,” such as “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity.”
“Homosexual acts and lifestyles are clearly perversion and reprehensible in the sight of God,” the employment application says. “Persons so involved cannot be employees of Immanuel Christian School.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of the LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD, rebuked Pence on Twitter for defending the anti-LGBT policy of Immanuel Christian School.
“I’m a Christian and a lesbian who sends my children to Sunday school, so to act like all ‘Christian education’ is anti-LGBTQ is disingenuous and dangerous,” Ellis said.