One Minute Video Introduction
On November 6, two days before the election, Mike Pence, in this recorded message, addressed the churches of America.
It is not known how many pastors played this message for their congregations, nor how many churchgoing Americans heard this message, nor how many looked down at their hands in embarrassment that their pastor would play such a thing, nor how many harrumphed and walked out in disgust. We believe at least some churchgoers are “Christians first” and “political targets second,” at least during a so-called worship service.
First, Mr. Pence cozies up to his audience by telling them that he, too, is a Christian. In fact, he is (as he so often says) “A Christian first, then a conservative, then a Republican.” As always, it is unclear when “then an American” would appear, or if it ever occurs to him to insert that phrase.
Then, Mr. Pence gives an account of his own conversion to Christianity, but fails to elaborate on how, if ever, he has moved along in his faith or how that faith motivates him. He gives no indication of his own church affiliation or his good works in the name of Jesus Christ. It is enough for the Fundamentalists and Evangelicals he is addressing to gloss over his conversion in this way, omitting the terms that used to be required for a bona fide testimony, to wit: conviction of sin, repentance, and faith issuing in a life of good works now and eternal life to come.
He then moves on to how he and Mr. Trump will make America great again, and here is where he gives it all away that he’s just marketing himself to churchgoers. He brings up the only issue that matters to them. Not the economy. Not national security. Not trade. Not education. Not the environment (certainly not the environment!).
Abortion. Take away a woman’s right to seek an abortion and you will make America great again.
Let me say right here that there is no greater woman-hating statement than this: that women who have had abortions have ruined America. This is men’s “not our fault!” metastasized to absurdity. It is men, by and large, who have caused and fought wars, made and enforced bad trade policy, ruined the environment, and brought gun violence to our streets and schools, but women who have abortions, now that’s what has ruined America—that is what Mr. Pence’s statement implies, make no mistake. This is patriarchy and male supremacy writ yuuge.
Oh, and one more thing. The Johnson Amendment. That’s right, a change in the Tax Code from 1954, proposed by Senator LBJ of Texas himself, which enjoins churches specifically from endorsing political candidates.
LBJ wasn’t thinking of abortion. He may have been thinking about Civil Rights. No one was thinking about abortion in 1954. Now things are different. Now pastors want to endorse (or unendorse) political candidates who do (or do not) take a stand against abortion. That’s what this hoped-for dropping of the Johnson Amendment is about. That, and the fictional “gay agenda,” not discussed in this particular speech, no one knows why.
So that’s it. Mr. Pence’s slop to the churches two days before the election, was to say, “I’m against abortion, and I want you pastors out there to be able to endorse people like me from your pulpits. Then America will be great again.
It is both naïve and shallow to assert that America’s greatness (if lost) can be regained by forcing women to carry pregnancies to term and by allowing pastors to endorse anti-abortion political candidates.
Frankly, my hope is in today’s young people, recently politically energized. They are reading, they are thinking. Some of them are in churches, and many of these would call themselves Christians first and Americans second. The jury’s out on how conservative they are going to end up being, and to which party they will belong, if any.
They are smart enough to know, these kids, that a recorded message to churches from a political candidate two days before an election is a flagrant reach for votes clothed in “Christian first” rhetoric that has no biblical content, no reference to Jesus’s stated values of kindness to the weak, love for the loveless, hope for the hopeless, or peace on earth.
This is surely the expected end of what Evangelical froofery has become, an audience for prerecorded political messages from a man who doesn’t rank his Americanism among his top three identifiers, and who has unequally yoked himself with a biblically ignorant, morally indefensible man.
This man is your next President, America, when Donald Trump collapses under the weight of his lifestyle. A man who believes that America’s greatness lies in the number of women who carry their pregnancies to term and the number of pastors who are allowed to endorse from the pulpit those who think likewise.
Here is the text:
“Greetings. I’m Governor Mike Pence.
You know it’s my honor this year to serve as the Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States with my running mate, Donald Trump. I’m grateful to be able to join you if only by videotape.
I’m not sure how they introduced me. The introduction I prefer is pretty short: I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order. And really, it’s as a fellow believer that I’m particularly honored to be able to address you today.
I know that every one of us has our own story about how we came to faith. For me, I was raised in a family where faith was important: Church on Sunday, grace before dinner. But my faith became my own when I made a personal decision to trust Jesus Christ during the spring of my freshman year in college. That night, my heart was literally broken wide with gratitude and with joy when I came to realize that what happened on the cross in some small measure, actually happened for me. And I know all of you in the room share that same passion and that same sense of gratitude for what was done on our behalf.
Years later, my faith has been tested, relied on more times than I could possibly count. All I know for sure today is I need him more than ever. And he’s really the center of my life and the center of my family’s life. You know God’s love really eclipses our failings. And, as always, he’s been a source of renewal and strengthening for this nation and for people of faith throughout our history.
In these troubled times I believe we stand at a turning point, when those who cherish faith, and those who cherish freedom, those who cherish the sanctity of life and all the liberties enshrined in our constitution should step forward and heed the call to action.
I joined Donald Trump on the Republican ticket because I believe he has the right leadership and the right vision to make America great again. President Donald Trump will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will uphold our constitution and the rights of the unborn.
Donald Trump will also sign into law legislation that will free up the voices of Faith all across this country by repealing what’s come to be known as the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment’s literally been on the book since the 1950s, and it essentially threatens tax-exempt organizations and churches with losing their tax status if they speak out on important issues facing the nation from the pulpit. Donald Trump and I are both committed to work with renewed Republican majorities in the house and in the Senate to repeal the Johnson Amendment once and for all.
You know, the truth is, that a, a careful study of American history has shown that the strength of our nation has come from our communities of faith. Throughout our history it has been the voices of faith that more often than not have driven our nation to a more perfect union. It was the pulpits around the American founding that thundered against the tyranny of King George. It was the pulpits around America that spoke of the evils of slavery and brought an end to the scourge of slavery in America, even through a great civil conflict. And it was voices of faith, and communities of faiths that transformed our nation through the civil rights movement in our own lifetime. And we’re a better nation for it.
The choice today, for all of us though, could not be more clear. I’ve never seen a more dramatic choice in a national election in my lifetime. I truly do believe we’re, we’re come to a time for choosing. And I think it’s a time in the life of our nation when people who cherish life, when people who cherish our liberties, when people who cherish the great traditions that are enshrined in our constitution should come together in support Donald Trump, and our agenda, to make America great again.
In these troubled times at home and abroad, challenging times for American families, I’d, I’d like to encourage you to do one more thing, and that is to bow the head and bend the knee in the days that remain in this election. Pray for our country. But, as you do so, please pray as, as Lincoln said was his prayer, not so much that, that God would be on our side but that we would be, in his words, on god’s side. Because I truly do believe in my heart of hearts that what’s been true for millennia is still true today: that if his people, who are called by his name, will humble themselves and pray, he’ll again do as he’s always done throughout the storied history of this nation. He’ll hear from heaven, and he’ll heal our land– this one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you today. May God bless you, your families, this community of faith, your church, and may god continue to bless the United States of America.”