[Marxism] A Conservative Christian College Protest of Mike Pence
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
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.
More information about the Marxism