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LYNCHBURG, Va. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The U.S. vice president is telling Christian college grads to be ready for persecution.
Vice President Mike Pence delivered the commencement address at Liberty University on May 11. After receiving an honorary degree, Pence approached the podium to cheers of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
In the latter half of his speech, Pence told the class of 2019, "Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs."
"So as you go about your daily life," Pence told the crowd, "just be ready; because you're going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith, you're going to be asked to endorse them. You're going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture."
He continued, "So you need to prepare your minds for action, men and women. You need to show that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time through words and deeds."
Pence further told the graduating class, "You need to be prepared to meet opposition."
The vice president said earlier in the commencement address, "The truth is, we live in a time when the freedom of religion is under assault."
He cited reports that persecution of Christians is soaring worldwide. He further noted recent attacks on Christian churches, Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques.
Pence went on to claim that "we live in a time when it's become acceptable and even fashionable to ridicule, and even discriminate against, people of faith."
Pence referenced the Obama-era Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate, noting, "You know, it wasn't all that long ago that the last administration brought the full weight of the federal government against the Little Sisters of the Poor, merely because that group of nuns refused to provide a health plan that violated their deeply held religious beliefs."
The Republican vice president brought up Georgia's new fetal heartbeat bill and mentioned that "a bevy of Hollywood liberals said they would boycott the entire state."
He then talked about how he and his wife have been demonized by the mainstream media, owing to what they believe as Christians:
And when my wife, Karen, returned to teach art at an elementary Christian school earlier this year, we faced harsh attacks by the media and the secular Left, and a major newspaper reporter actually started a new hashtag called "Expose Christian Schools," inviting students to share their "horror stories" of Christian education. The freedom of religion is enshrined in our First Amendment and in the hearts of every American; and these attacks on Christian education are un-American.
The vice president's wife was present for the speech. He named her near the beginning of his address, and she received a round of applause.
Pence declared that his main message for the class of 2019 is that they live out their beliefs even in the face of blowback from the secular world.
"You know, throughout most of American history, it's been pretty easy to call yourself Christian," Pence opined. "It didn't even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible. But things are different now."
As is common at graduation speeches, Pence began by remarking at length about the university's history and the graduating class' achievements. He noted at one point that he has four Liberty University alumni on his staff.
Liberty University is a private, non-profit, Evangelical Protestant university. It is one of the largest Christian universities in the world.
Pence spoke about the Trump administration's achievements, trumpeting positive developments in the U.S. economy.
He told the graduating class, "You're entering an America where you have a president and an administration that is standing strong for all the liberties we cherish, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion; and we stand without apology for the sanctity of human life!"
The vice president closed his address by exhorting the graduates to "have faith."
Toward the beginning of his speech, there were issues with the sound system. The technical issues came up right as Pence was announcing that President Donald Trump offered his personal congratulations to the graduates.
University president Jerry Falwell Jr. chimed in to joke, "Somebody in the Deep State was on the soundbooth."
Pence is slated as commencement speaker at Taylor University in Indiana on Saturday, May 18. Liberals are pushing back on the university over having Pence as commencement speaker. A Change.org petition calling on Taylor administrators to rescind their invitation to the vice president has garnered about 8,000 signatures.