America's embarrassingly biblically illiterate state and national press corps is far more comfortable with politicians who use their faith as a prop – but Mike Pence is a man whose Christian faith is real and who allows it to inform and enlighten everything he does.
It's been a long time since I recall watching a politician introduce himself to the country by professing his faith in Christ before his faith in America. But that's precisely what Indiana Governor Mike Pence did when he took the occasion of his unsurprisingly awkward, ever-so-Trumpesque introduction last Saturday morning to let everyone in America know that he is a "Christian, and a conservative, and a Republican, in that order."
Those who have followed Pence's career have heard that line plenty of times. But speaking it to rural Indiana crowds is different than proclaiming it on national television to millions. In a godless media culture where any public reference to Jesus earns a mandatory label of "anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-science buffoon," Pence's willingness to self-identify foremost as a believer was courageous and honorable.
Given that Donald Trump predictably monopolized nearly two-thirds of the Pence introductory press conference to talk about himself and how he methodically disemboweled his Republican opposition (yes, the same ones he would seemingly need to court rather than embitter should he want to avoid a staggering defeat in November), many national reporters came looking for a better understanding of the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee.
Humorously, Indy Star reporter Matthew Tully was happy to fill that void. In what is something akin to Rush Limbaugh being asked to give the country a primer on the character and leadership of Hillary Clinton, Tully wrote his own anti-Pence piece as well as sharing similar sentiments with The Washington Post. Allow me to offer a slightly different take.
In 15 years of service to the state of Indiana, Mike Pence has consistently embodied a dignified, steady and measured temperament. As much as his detractors wish to define him a "social conservative warrior," the description just doesn't fit a man as composed and levelheaded as the governor.
To be sure, Pence has been resolute throughout his legislative and executive career in championing the unalienable right to life for all Americans, whether or not they are deemed "convenient" or "wanted" by others. As a Christian, it's certainly true that Pence has given voice to the same design for a marital relationship that Jesus did. And the governor did sign a law that reaffirmed Indiana's commitment to honoring the First Amendment conscience rights for all Hoosiers – a law that was intentionally and hysterically mischaracterized by social liberal warriors (like Tully) in order to advance their own agenda.
But the portrayal of Pence as a fire-breathing Puritan who, in the words of Huffington Post writer Warren Holstein, "orders all women to be obedient and submissive broodmares," is beyond comical. With a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature, Governor Pence has led anything but a social conservative blitzkrieg in Indianapolis. He's fixated on economic development and fiscal discipline, much like his popular predecessor.
So why does such a mild-mannered, affable gentleman illicit such silly overreactions from many in media? What bothers the left about Pence seems to be that he is a man of strong religious conviction. No less than three times in his 12-minute speech on Saturday, Pence referenced the counsel of Scripture. Such behavior is disquieting to an embarrassingly biblically illiterate state and national press corps that convinces itself such behavior is a telltale characteristic of a closet theocrat. They are far more comfortable with politicians who use their faith as a prop, and who allow their politics to shape and mold their "beliefs."
But even if your sorry media can't comprehend it, America, that is the opposite of Mike Pence. In Indiana's governor you have a man whose faith is real and who allows it to inform and enlighten everything he does. I know because I've seen it. In 2012, I appeared at a couple events with then-Congressman Pence. Before we walked out on stage, Pence pulled us together and we prayed for the event, for each other, and for America.
And that is unquestionably the most reassuring thing about the emergence of Mike Pence into the national spotlight – that he maintains a healthy fear and reverence for the Sovereign who presides over the destinies of all nations, and who holds men accountable for their actions, particularly those men in positions of power. If there has ever been a time for such humility before God in Washington, DC, surely it is now.
Peter Heck (email@example.com) is a speaker, author and teacher who hosts a weekly radio broadcast on WIBC (93.1 FM) in Indianapolis, Indiana. This column originally appeared on his website.
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