Addressing Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, she spoke out against schools who discriminated against LGBTQI children.
Karen Pence, the wife of American Vice President Mike Pence and a woman he has historically referred to as “mother”, has returned to work this week.
The move in itself is admirable. Why should the wives of politicians be asked to give up their jobs in order to support their husbands? But the wider context of Karen’s choice of employer is deeply deplorable. Karen will be teaching art twice a week at Immanuel Christian School in Virginia, an institution that has a “parent agreement” allowing the school to “discontinue enrolment” of children if they or their parents “are in opposition to the biblical lifestyle the school teaches,” reports CNN.
Meaning, if children or their parents support or condone “sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity”, they will get expelled. The school motto is something straight of out The Handmaid’s Tale: “Live a life of moral purity.”
The news has sparked widespread censure in the US, with Lady Gaga stepping forward as the latest critic of Karen’s choice in employer. “You say we should not discriminate against Christianity,” the singer said from the stage of her Las Vegas residency. “You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian. I am a Christian woman and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome.”
“So you can take all that disgrace, Mr Pence, and you can look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there,” Gaga added.
The Pences, though, have said they are letting all criticism on this matter “roll off” their backs. The Vice President told Catholic television network EWTN that “major news organisations 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. We’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”
As a politician, it has always been difficult to separate Pence’s Evangelical faith from his policies. He has stood against marriage equality, against abortion, against adoption by same sex couples and against LGBTQI people serving in the armed forces.
As Governor of Indiana in 2015, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill designed to forbid “substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.” The bill allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQI community on the grounds of religious belief and, according to his biographer Andrea Neal, Pence didn’t merely sign the bill he “autographed several copies of it”.
The Vice President has always been critical of those who do not live according to Christian values. But there is one person who has escaped his censure so far: a serial adulterer who has been divorced twice and has declared that he never asks forgiveness from God. In short, the kind of person that the Pences would usually be lining up to criticise.
We’re talking, of course, about Mike’s boss. President Donald Trump.