LYNCHBURG, Virginia, May 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Vice President Mike Pence told graduating students at Liberty University in Virginia that they should prepare for “opposition” in a world where the “persecution” of Christians has reached the level of “genocide.”
“The truth is, we live in a time when the freedom of religion is under assault,” the vice president told the 2019 graduating class at Liberty University on Saturday (read full remarks here).
“Yesterday, I was informed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that today Christians suffer more persecution around the world than any other religion. In fact, the United Kingdom released a report just last week that said persecution of Christians worldwide is 'near genocide levels,'” Pence added.
Connecting the persecution of people of faith in the United States with their brethren in other countries, Pence deplored violence against religion: “In the last few months, we’ve seen unspeakable attacks on people of faith — on Jewish synagogues in Pennsylvania and California, on mosques in New Zealand, Christian churches in Sri Lanka, and on three historically black churches in Louisiana. No one should ever fear for their safety in a place of worship, and these attacks on people of faith must stop.”
Pence told the graduates that they are living in a time when “it’s become acceptable and even fashionable to ridicule and even discriminate against people of faith.”
Alluding to efforts during the Obama administration that assailed religious institutions that refused to endorse abortion and contraception, Pence said, “You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that the last administration brought the full weight of the federal government against the Little Sisters of the Poor merely because that group of nuns refused to provide a health plan that violated their deeply held religious beliefs. And when the state of Georgia recently was debating legal protections for the unborn, a bevy of Hollywood liberals said they would boycott the entire state.”
On a personal note, Pence recalled the ridicule to which Mrs. Pence has been subjected for teaching at a school that professes traditional Christian teachings about sexuality and marriage. Pence said, “And when my wife Karen returned to teach art at an elementary Christian school earlier this year, we faced harsh attacks by the media and the secular Left. And a major newspaper reporter actually started a new hashtag, called ‘Expose Christian Schools,’ inviting students to share their 'horror stories' of Christian education.”
Referring to the principles enshrined in the Constitution, the vice president said, “The freedom of religion is enshrined in our First Amendment and in the hearts of every American. And these attacks on Christian education are un-American.”
He also spoke to the success the Trump administration has had in nominating justices to the Supreme Court and defending religious liberty, vowing, “We will always stand up for the right of Americans to live, to learn, and to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience.”
Pence told his listeners that he had not come “so much as your vice-president but as a brother in Christ,” and added, “if what you’ve seen and heard and learned in this place has also taken hold in your hearts, go from here and live it out, share it, because America needs men and women of integrity and faith now more than ever.”
Telling graduates that intolerance is found not only overseas but also at home, the vice president said, “Throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian. It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now.”
Pence added, “Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. So as you go about your daily life, just be ready. Because you’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith; you’re going to be asked to endorse them. You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.”
“So you need to prepare your minds for action, men and women. You need to show that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time through words and deeds. And you need to be prepared to meet opposition.”
Reflecting on the Biblical story of three Jewish youths who were cast into a fiery furnace by an enraged pagan king, Pence told Liberty University grads that God will abide with them despite their trials in the world. “As you strive for greatness, know that you’ll face challenges, you’ll face opposition,” said Pence. “But just know this: If, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you end up in the fire, there’ll be another in the fire.”
Crediting the university training and their Christian faith to sustain them, Pence said, “Have faith that He Who brought you this far will never leave you, nor forsake you, because He never will.”