Pence controversy at Taylor University a sign of changes coming to Christian colleges

Religion News Service | 4/17/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — Taylor University, an evangelical Christian college in Upland, Ind., has invited Mike Pence to be its 2019 commencement speaker.

Not everyone in the Taylor community is happy about it.

Debate - Vice - President - Visit - Taylor

The debate over the vice president’s visit to Taylor reveals a lot about the way evangelical colleges are choosing to navigate America’s changing religious landscape.

Alumni who oppose Pence’s visit to Taylor have started a Change.org petition claiming that the invitation makes “our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.”

Taylor - University - Faculty - Dissent - Pence

Taylor University faculty expressed their dissent to the Pence invitation by a vote of 61-49.

This is not the first time in recent memory that the Taylor community has divided over politics. Back in March 2018, several disgruntled Taylor employees started an underground newspaper with a mission to expose what they believed to be Taylor’s move in a “liberal direction.”

Time - Taylor - President - Lowell - Haines

At the time, Taylor President Lowell Haines condemned the anonymous publishers for “sow(ing) discord and distrust” and “hurting members of our community.”

Some Americans who hold progressive views on sex and marriage — whether they are Christian or not — are going to condemn Taylor for inviting Pence because, among other things, he holds a conservative position on marriage and has recently mixed it up with gay presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Kind - Criticism - Lacks - Schools - Positions

But this kind of criticism lacks nuance. Most evangelical schools have traditional positions on marriage and believe that homosexual practice is unbiblical.

Progressives are going to need to deal with the fact that a significant portion of the United States population shares Pence’s views in the area of sexual ethics.

Need - Evangelicals - Society - Beliefs

I hope they will see the need to work with evangelicals to cultivate a more inclusive and pluralistic society where deeply held religious beliefs...
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