[Marxism] A Conservative Christian College Protest of Mike Pence

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 19 14:39:08 MDT 2017

NY Times Op-Ed, May 19 2017
A Conservative Christian College Protest of Mike Pence
by Molly Wicker

GROVE CITY, Pa. — On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence will give the 
commencement address at Grove City College, the small Christian 
institution in Western Pennsylvania where I am a junior. A few years 
ago, Mr. Pence would have been a noncontroversial choice. Other 
prominent Republicans, including Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Laura Bush, 
have spoken here, and the school is known for its conservative values. 
Indeed, the phrase “conservative values” is in the Grove City mission 

But the announcement that Mr. Pence would be commencement speaker this 
year drew considerable backlash. Alumni and students flooded 
administrators’ inboxes with emails protesting the decision, and faculty 
members have called for boycotts. Many who oppose the decision say that 
hosting Mr. Pence will serve as an endorsement of the current president.

This is an interesting crossroads for the school. Grove City is proud of 
its image as a steadfastly conservative Christian oasis in the 
increasingly liberal landscape of higher education. On campus, 
conservative politics and conservative faith usually go hand in hand. 
Students study the politics of Ronald Reagan and the literature of C. S. 
Lewis as well as the Bible.

Most of us were raised in Protestant evangelical households, and more 
than 16 percent of the 2,500 students were home-schooled. Some students 
have had little exposure to popular culture or liberal politics. A few 
seem to see their conservative political affiliation as a ticket to 
eternal salvation.

But the 2017 election exposed a rift between ideological and political 
conservatism. Evangelical voters have long demanded that politicians 
exemplify Christian character and morality in the public sector. In 
Donald Trump, however, evangelicals were confronted with a candidate who 
pledged allegiance to conservative ideals, but embodied none of them.

Many of the issues evangelicals care about — marriage, abortion and 
religious liberty — are more dependent on a conservative Supreme Court 
than a conservative president. Divorced, disrespectful and domineering, 
Mr. Trump might not have been the first choice of many Christians, but 
he was certainly more likely than his Democratic opponent to advance 
cultural conservatism on the court.

Plenty of young evangelicals I know, however, were not persuaded by that 
argument. Claire Waugh, a senior from Woodbridge, Va., told me that she 
refused in November to have a Trump vote on her conscience, and that she 
hates to see the country being “led by a man who spews vitriol against 
anyone who is unlike him, a man who tries to invoke God’s name when he 
is acting utterly ungodly.”

And for many on campus, Mr. Pence’s reputation for being a very 
faith-oriented politician does not make up for his being Mr. Trump’s 
vice president. “It baffles me that a Christian institution, that 
supposedly values every human life and facilitates Christian education 
and beliefs, would allow someone as divisive as Mike Pence to come 
speak,” said Megan Baak, 22, a senior from Lancaster, Pa. “In an age 
where hate, violence, divisiveness and partisanship are so prevalent, I 
am shocked that Grove City would bring one of the most controversial 
political figureheads to our campus for graduation.”

Long before Mr. Pence tied himself to Mr. Trump, he was a good friend of 
Paul McNulty, Grove City’s president. Mr. McNulty was deputy attorney 
general for three years under President George W. Bush, and he and Mr. 
Pence became particularly close after their wives met while working at 
the Christian school both couples’ children attended. In announcing that 
Mr. Pence would give the commencement address, Mr. McNulty told our 
school paper that when his son died four years ago, the Pences “offered 
amazing support” to his family.

Nobody doubts the strength of their friendship. But it is not a good 
enough reason to invite a member of the Trump White House to 
commencement. By being politically accommodating to the administration 
of a faithless man who enacts damaging policies, the school is sending 
graduates a message that undermines the intention of this institution.

Protest at Grove City looks a little different from that at colleges 
like Auburn or Berkeley. After the Pence announcement, students 
expressed their concerns in editorials for the school newspaper and in 
meetings with administrators and Mr. McNulty. Across campus, students 
are debating the merits of tying faith to politics — a subject that has 
always been taken for granted. A Facebook group, with nearly 900 
members, is planning a physical protest on graduation day. Grove City 
College is private, so the protesters will not be allowed on the 
grounds. But they do plan to march through the small town that encircles 

My hope is that Mr. Pence, as a Christian, will use his platform here to 
encourage graduates to apply their faith toward the greater good. 
Presumably, if he can harness his faith toward the same end, he may make 
a difference as a voice of reason and compassion in the White House. A 
Christian politician is not one who builds power by fueling toxic, 
fear-inflating rhetoric. Perhaps Mr. Pence can still break away from the 
chaos President Trump has cultivated.

I have been taught to repent of fear, anxiety, defensiveness, mockery 
and anger. So, however naïve as it may sound, I want to remain hopeful — 
both about Mr. Pence’s commencement address and the direction he could 
take our country.

Molly Wicker is a junior at Grove City College.

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