‘Lately, it’s become acceptable, even fashionable, to malign traditional Christian beliefs…’
Dozens of degree-earning students and faculty members decked out in caps and gowns at the evangelical Christian school in Upland, Ind., walked out moments before Vice President Mike Pence delivered Saturday’s commencement address.
As Pence was preparing to address the crowd, which included nearly 500 grads, dissenters rose and peaceably exited the campus’ Kesler Student Activities Center.
The planned protest occurred after a heated debate over the appropriateness of Pence’s appearance.
But most of Taylor’s graduating class stayed seated for Pence, who received a standing ovation, the Indianapolis Star reported.
In his address, the vice president used the commencement address to warn against those who bash Christianity.
“Throughout most of our American history it’s been pretty easy to call yourself a Christian, but things are different now,” said Pence. “Lately, it’s become acceptable, even fashionable, to malign traditional Christian beliefs.”
He then segued into cheering Trump administration successes, including the low jobless rate and a thriving, robust economy.
Reaction to Pence’s appearance was decidedly mixed.
“I thought it was a really inappropriate decision,” said graduate Laura Rathburn, who said she planned to walk out. “I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed,” she said.
She was disappointed to hear Taylor had offered Pence the invitation to speak.
In protest, she decked out her cap in rainbow colors with the inscription, “Ally Visible For Those Who Can’t Be.”
But fellow Taylor graduate Emmanuel Boateng disagreed.
“I know that on campus the emotions range from very positive to not very positive,” said Boateng. “No one dreams that way. But despite our differences, the whole entire campus has come to celebrate together.”
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