Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has accepted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s offer to serve as his running mate. Trump made the offer official today. In a tweet, Trump wrote: “I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.”
Pence brings considerable political experience in elective office to the table, which is something that Trump lacks. The Hoosier governor has served in the past in the U.S. House of Representatives, president of the Indiana Policy Review, and as a political talk show host.
Five things to know about Pence and his religion:
1) He brings conservative credentials, as well. Pence has been a staunch opponent of abortion. Joan Walsh, writing at The Nation, described him thus: “The guy who led the crusade against Planned Parenthood and signed anti-abortion laws will drive more women to Hillary Clinton.”
During his tenure in the U.S. House from 2000 until his election as governor in 2013, Pence had a “reputation as a culture warrior (that) was unsullied,” according to Roll Call. According to the website, his conservative credentials include: opposition to the expansion of abortion rights and federal spending on embryonic stem cell research; pushing a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage; and briefly cuting off new federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
2) Pence once described himself as a “pretty ordinary Christian” and also as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” He was raised in the Catholic Church, and even served as an altar boy. He once said, “I made a commitment to Christ. I’m a born-again, evangelical Catholic.” Writing in the Indiana Monthly, journalist Craig Fehrman commented, “That’s not a combination you hear every day.”
3) Pence was raised in the bosom of a Catholic family of Irish ancestry that reportedly revered President John F. Kennedy. He attended Catholic parochial school in Columbus, Indiana. He made a “commitment to Christ” while participating in a nondenominational Christian student group in college. He once told The Indianapolis Star that he and his family attended Grace Evangelical Church in the 1990. However, he told journalist Fehrman that he was “kind of looking for a church.”
4) Despite his background in the Catholic faith, he clashed with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis over the issue of refugees. In 2015, citing concerns over security, he was critical of the archdiocese when he stopped state assistance to efforts to resettle refugees. The Catholic Church in Indiana welcomed a Syrian refugee family anyway. While Pence disagreed with Catholic Church officials, he decided not to block food stamps and other aid to the refugee family. Pence, however, did criticize Trump’s suggestion of temporarily halting Muslim immigration to the U.S., saying that it was “offensive and unconstitutional.”
5) Pence is vocally supportive of the State of Israel. When speaking at an AIPAC conference in 2009, Pence said that his support is rooted in his Christian faith: “Let me say emphatically, like the overwhelming majority of my constituents, my Christian faith compels me to cherish the state of Israel.”
He backed this up in December 2015 at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s conference when he said: “Israel’s enemies are our enemies, Israel’s cause is our cause. If this world knows nothing else, let it know this: America stands with Israel.”
Pence signed a controversial “religious freedom” law. It thus placed him in the center of a maelstrom of invective and controversy directed at him from gays, lesbians, and their leftist supporters. The law would have allowed to refuse to do business with some people based on their own religious beliefs. In his 2016 State of the State address, Pence said:
“I will not support any bill that diminished the religious freedom of Hoosiers or that interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work. … No one should ever fear persecution because of their deeply held religious beliefs.”
However, when major corporations threatened to boycott Indiana, he had to back down and sign a watered-down version of the bill.