Reports criticizing Second Lady Karen Pence’s teaching position at a Christian school hostile toward the LGBTQ community were “deeply offensive” to both her and her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Washington Post.
The vice president made the comment in response to the negative reaction to news that Karen Pence took a part-time job teaching art at Immanuel Christian School in Virginia.
“My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while. We’re used to the criticism,” Pence said in an interview with Eternal Word Television Network. “But I have to tell you, to see major news organizations attacking Christian education, is deeply offensive to us.
"We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and, frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it. The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding a public office and so we’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”
But the public backlash was less in response to the notion of Christian education and more to the idea that the second lady would join up with a school that actively discriminates against LGBTQ Americans.
The school’s employment application explicitly states that applicants must agree that marriage is only between a man and a woman:
“I understand that the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman."
Per the Post, the application further states: “Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.”
This stint as an art teacher is not Karen Pence’s first involvement with the school, according to the Post.
Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for Pence, told The Washington Post that the second lady was a teacher at the school for more than a decade when her husband was a member of Congress, adding: “It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack.”