WASHINGTON (BP) — A Washington Post reporter’s claim that Vice President Mike Pence never eats alone with a woman who is not his wife has drawn a storm of criticism from opponents but praise from evangelicals.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin responded that he has made the same commitment to his wife Charlotte while Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma executive director Anthony Jordan said he “applaud[s]” the vice president.
A March 28 profile of Pence’s wife Karen by Post reporter Ashley Parker noted highlights of the Pences’ 32-year marriage, including their Christian faith and a 2002 claim by Mike Pence “that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”
The Post didn’t indicate whether Pence has made more recent claims of maintaining that practice.
When Parker tweeted about Mike Pence’s practice March 29 to promote her article, within two days nearly 2,000 people replied, 1,400 retweeted the information and 3,600 “liked” the tweet.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway chronicled responses to the tweet, including mocking sarcasm, comparisons of Pence’s practice to Islamic Sharia law and uses of lewdness and profanity. Clara Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of the liberal publication Mother Jones, tweeted a series of responses claiming, among other things, that the vice president relegates women as “second class citizens.”
Akin, author of two books about marriage based on the Bible’s Song of Solomon, told Baptist Press, “The day I married Charlotte I made the same pledge to her that Mike Pence has made to his wife. I have never broken it. I promised her I would never be alone with any woman other than she. I did not make this promise because I am afraid of women or think they are of lesser value and worth than men. I made it because I know the sinfulness of my own heart.
“The Bible teaches us that King David was a man after God’s own heart,” Akin said in written comments. “But because he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong person, he lied, committed adultery and murdered. I doubt I love God more than David. If something like that could happen to him, then it could happen to me. My goal is to go to my grave being faithful to Charlotte. I really don’t care what the world thinks when it comes to this issue.”
Jordan, chairman of the 1998 committee that drafted the Baptist Faith and Message article on the family, told BP in written comments, “There is no more sacred human relationship than that of husband and wife. I applaud Vice President Pence in protecting that relationship by not spending time alone with someone of the opposite sex. He is putting his marriage above political and cultural correctness.”
Among other details of the Pences’ marriage noted by The Post:
— As a member of the House of Representatives from 2001-13, Mike Pence had an antique red phone on his desk to which only his wife had the number.
— Karen Pence is a key adviser to her husband, often accompanying him on trips and to media interviews.
— Karen Pence is her family’s “prayer warrior.”
“You can’t get a dime between” Mike and Karen Pence, Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a member of President Trump’s transition team, told The Post. “It is not him seeking her approval, but his doing a sort of gut check with what they have learned together and come up through together in terms of their shared Christianity.”