Christians defend Karen Pence over teaching job at Christian school

Mike and Karen PenceReuters

The wife of US Vice President Mike Pence has come under fire for teaching at a Christian school that requires employees to adhere to traditional views on marriage and sexuality.

The Office of the Second Lady Karen Pence announced on Tuesday that she would be teaching art part-time at a private elementary school in Springfield, Virginia.

Mrs Pence, an award-winning watercolour artist, accepted the position at Immanuel Christian School in December and will teach art two times a week until May.

According to the Huffington Post, the school's 2018 job application form asks applicants to sign a statement of faith that includes a clause describing marriage as a union between 'one man and one woman in a lifetime commitment to each other'.

In the form's Articles of Employment, applicants must affirm their understanding 'that the term "marriage" has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman'.

It also asks them to swear that they will follow biblical standards of moral conduct. A list of behaviours regarded by the school as moral misconduct includes adultery, engaging in homosexual or lesbian sexual activity or having a transgender identify.

A separate form for parents wishing to send their children to the school asks for similar affirmation of marriage between one man and one woman.

It also warns that children may be turned down or lose an existing place 'if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches'.

It continues: 'This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.)'

Mrs Pence has been strongly criticised in the media and on Twitter over the teaching position.

Democratic political strategist Adam Parkhomenko branded her a 'bigot', while the president of Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin accused her of treating members of the LGBT community like 'second class citizens'.

'Why not serve at a school that welcomes everyone? Not a week passes without some reminder that the Pences view LGBTQ people as second class citizens,' said Griffin.

In a statement to the media, Mrs Pence's spokeswoman, Kara Brooks, defended the job.

'It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack,' she said. 

Christians also defended Pence, with Breakpoint commentator John Stonestreet taking a dig at the Washington Post's headline, 'The school that hired Karen Pence requires applicants to disavow gay marriage, trans identity.'

He tweeted: 'The school that hired Karen Pence is an evangelical Christian school that adheres to Christian teaching. There, I fixed it for you.'

Denny Burke, president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was equally cynical: 'Stop the Presses! Christian teacher goes to teach at Christian school!'

David French, senior fellow at the National Review Institute, said: 'Another way to state this is to say that a Christian school requires applicants to adhere to orthodox Christian theology. Just like my Christian college. Just like the Christian school my kids attended.'