Who is Mike Pence?


Over at Religion and Politics, Max Perry Mueller of the University of Nebraska has an excellent piece on the religious world view of Donald Trump’s running mate.

Here is a taste:

Pence’s measured public demeanor, traditional family values, as well as his long political career, present a study in contrast with Trump, the bombastic, thrice-married, political-novice, who brazenly talks about forcing himself on women. And yet, Pence’s first—and primary—identity as a conservative Christian and the governing worldview that it forms in many ways aligns with Trump’s own view of seeing the world divided starkly into allies and enemies, good deals and bad deals, security and menace.

In this sense, both Trump and Pence are restorationists. And their restorationist visions for America are complementary. Trump’s is racial; Pence’s is religious. Together, their ticket embodies a “white Christian America” in decline, as Robert P. Jones has powerfully described it. In a Trump-Pence ticket, white Christian America not only hopes to resist the forces demographic and cultural change, but to restore white Protestant Americans (especially men) to their place of unchallenged preeminence.

According to a Pew Research survey in June, more than 94 percent of white Republican evangelicals were supporting Trump over Clinton, up from 44 percent in April during the primary contest. Picking Pence was the result, not the cause, of Trump’s growing evangelical base. Perhaps it’s fair to think of Pence as part of the political branch of Trump’s evangelical outreach, which includes leaders like Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, and Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed, who all serve on Trump’s evangelical advisory board and who have continued to stand by him after the video’s release.

Pence and these leaders have served as Trump’s Christian witnesses, and Pence continues to do so for the many everyday evangelical Christians to whom he has spoken over the last few months in churches throughout the country. Since many Americans don’t know exactly where Trump stands on the issues, Pence reassures them. As he told a town hall gathering last September at a church in Meza, Arizona, “All you need to know about Donald Trump is he loves his family and he loves his country.”

Pence’s place on the ticket mollifies some evangelical concerns over Trump’s past, his inconsistent policy positions, and his temperament. And yet for many other constituencies within the American electorate, Trump’s choice of Pence as running mate presents another set of worries. If Pence becomes the vice president, just a heartbeat—or impeachment—away from the Oval Office will be a politician who, as Pence himself implied at the vice presidential debate, believes it his “calling” to legislate his religious views into public policy.

Read the entire piece here.