Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to speak at the commencement of Wisconsin Lutheran University this past weekend, but the private college revoked the invitation. The college, located in Milwaukee, announced that “after further review with careful consideration” it chose to “present a different speaker” instead of the vice president.
The college announced that it replaced Pence with Rev. Mark Jeske of St. Marcus Lutheran Church. Jaske is the senior pastor at the Milwaukee-based Lutheran church and he has been with the church since 1980.
Wisconsin Lutheran University initially fought back criticisms from alumni and current students about having Pence speak at commencement and said it was a nonpolitical event. The university noted that Pence’s service has come with “an unapologetic faith in Christ” and praised his advocacy “for the freedom of religious expression.” It added, “This event is not an endorsement of a political party, candidate, or a party’s platform.”
But the university’s statement fell on deaf ears.
The anti-Pence coalition wrote an open letter and claimed that Pence’s was part of “an incredibly divisive and controversial ticket” in an election year. They also claimed that it was “ignorant and deceptive” for the college to invite Pence without acknowledging the political implications.
Wisconsin’s Democratic Party issued a statement critical of Pence and said, “It’s clear why Pence was disinvited from speaking at Wisconsin Lutheran’s College’s commencement: the Trump administration is focused on dividing, not uniting.”
Neither the state Democratic Party nor the anti-Pence coalition acknowledged that the disinvitation controversy is an example of “cancel culture” and fails to live up to America’s long-held standard of tolerance. Cancel culture is the practice of withholding support and publicly shaming individuals over their political or moral views. None of Pence’s critics admitted that the Trump administration (and by extension, Pence) has advanced religious freedom protections for Christians and those of other faiths.