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Pence says criticism of wife’s job at anti-LGBT Christian school is ‘deeply offensive to us’

Vice President Pence praised his wife, Karen Pence, while speaking to a crowd at the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 18, 2019. (Video: Reuters)

Vice President Pence has responded vehemently to criticism surrounding his wife’s decision to teach at a private school that seeks to exclude homosexual and transgender students and staff members.

Following news that Karen Pence accepted a part-time job teaching art at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Va., the vice president said Thursday that the negative reaction was “deeply offensive.”

“My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while. We’re used to the criticism,” Pence said in an interview with Eternal Word Television Network. “But I have to tell you, to see major news organizations attacking Christian education, is deeply offensive to us.

"We have a rich tradition in America of Christian education and, frankly, religious education broadly defined. We celebrate it. The freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding a public office and so we’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop.”

The school that hired Karen Pence requires applicants to disavow gay marriage, trans identity

In an employment application, Immanuel Christian School’s requires applicants to agree that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.

It states: “I understand 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."

The application adds that “Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.”

Furthermore, a parent agreement requires guardians to acknowledge that the school may deny admission or kick out a student who engages in activities that conflict with a “biblical lifestyle,” such as “condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity.”

The backlash came after HuffPost reported that Karen Pence had accepted a job at a school that discriminates against the LGBTQ community.

The school did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Appearing with his wife at the March for Life on the National Mall on Friday, the vice president told protesters demonstrating against abortion that she “is many things: She’s a mother. She’s an advocate for military families. ... She’s even an art teacher at a Christian school. And I couldn’t be more proud of our second lady, my wife, Karen Pence.”

Pence’s wife has taught at Immanuel Christian School in the past. Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for Pence, told The Washington Post that the second lady was a teacher at the school for more than a decade when her husband was a member of Congress, adding: “It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack.”

Openly gay U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence during the Olympic games. (Video: Alice Li/The Washington Post)

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Second lady Karen Pence to teach art at a Virginia elementary school