Mike Pence is a Real Christian


I am not fond of Christian privilege. Given the choice, I'd like to see it disappear sooner than later. One implication of this stance is that I try not to do anything that might strengthen Christian privilege. This is why I'm not inclined to join in with those who love to seize on an example of Christian wrongdoing and use it to claim that the wrongdoer is a "fake Christian."

I understand that these efforts aim to point out hypocrisy. The problem is that they subtly feed Christian privilege by implying that a "real Christian" would not commit bad acts. I don't know about you, but that hasn't been my experience with many Christians. I see little reason to promote the notion that Christians are morally superior to anyone else.

In the summer of 2019, people were outraged by then Vice President Mike Pence's demeanor while visiting Border Patrol facilities in Texas. Its scope and intensity made me wish that social media had been what it is today when Dick Cheney was having people tortured. As far as I'm concerned, Pence should be criticized. I see little wrong with efforts to highlight the discrepancy between what he claims to believe and how he behaves. But I do think that this could be accomplished without suggesting that he's is not a "real Christian."

Pence does not represent the kind of Christianity in which I was raised, but his brand of fundamentalist Christianity is popular. It is far too popular to be considered "fringe." Those of us who want what we believe to correspond to reality need to recognize this. Pence's Christianity is not the whole of Christianity, but it is part of Christianity. It is very influential in the United States. We have ample evidence showing that the political influence of Christians who share his beliefs far exceeds their numbers. This is due, in part, to their willingness to vote at much greater rates than the rest of us. They are beating us because they are much better at playing the political game than we are.

Mike Pence is a "real Christian." The manner in which he behaves may not be consistent with some forms of Christianity, but it is consistent with his brand of conservative Christianity. This is something we need to acknowledge. To suggest that he is a "fake Christian" because he doesn't act like some Christians misses the point. It also feeds into Christian privilege by suggesting that Christians do not behave like Pence. We have to recognize that his actions are consistent with the worrisome form of Christianity he represents.