Evangelical College Students Protesting Mike Pence as Commencement Speaker

"Not my Taylor. Not my Jesus."

Students at an evangelical Christian college are protesting the choice of Vice President Mike Pence as commencement speaker for its upcoming graduation, on May 18.

Taylor University is a small school in Upland, Indiana, the state where Pence served as a congressman and governor. It announced Pence as the commencement speaker last week in a press release.

Taylor’s President, Dr. Paul Lowell Haines, said the university was “pleased and honored” to welcome Pence, calling him “a good friend to the University over many years,” and “a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates.”

That sentiment is not universal, however, as a Change.org petition calling on the college to revoke the invitation has garnered over 5,000 signatures at time of writing.

“I’m a husband of a Taylor alum and suggest that if Taylor is looking for a Hossier Christian politician for the commencement they might consider inviting Pete Buttigieg,” wrote one signer.

“Not my Taylor. Not my Jesus,” wrote another.

“Grandmother of FOUR TU [sic] graduates. If you invite this bigot I’m through making tuition payments for the rest of the family,” said yet another.

On Facebook, a could-be former supporter said they would cease donating to the school if it doesn’t rethink its choice of Pence as speaker, as The Washington Post noted.

“Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration’s policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear,” Alex Hoekstra, the petition’s creator, said.

Hoekstra is a graduate of the college, and has since held roles with the Democratic Party, including in Oregon and at the national level, according to The Post.

A counter Change.org petition, in support of Pence, has received nearly 2,500 signatures at time of writing.

This is not the first time the choice of Pence as a commencement speaker has caused controversy, with more than 100 Notre Dame graduates walking out in protest in 2017.

Journalist, editor, and artist.