Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence appeared on Dr. James Dobson’s “Family Talk” program on Wednesday, where he promised that the Donald Trump administration would keep religious liberty safe from federal encroachment.
“The First Amendment is very clear: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,'” said Pence. “We live in a diverse country, with people with different viewpoints and different lifestyles. I don’t believe in discrimination or mistreatment of anyone. I believe we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”
At the same time, Pence said, it is essential to make sure that religious freedom is protected.
“But neither do I think should anyone ever fear persecution because of their deeply held religious beliefs,” he said. “When those two things come into conflict, that’s what we have the courts for. The courts sort out those issues and have done so throughout the history of this nation.”
He said that the courts should “err on the side of freedom” when considering those cases, insisting that the federal government should play the role of protecting liberty – not limiting it. He said that the Trump administration would use that philosophy when selecting nominees for the Supreme Court.
“Donald Trump and I truly believe that ensuring that we have people appointed to the Supreme Court who will uphold the Constitution and respect the God-given liberties that are enshrined there are very much on the ballot,” he said.
The Indiana governor’s commitment to religious freedom is not in doubt; Pence made headlines two years ago when he signed a controversial religious freedom law in his home state. LGBT activists accused Pence of legalizing discrimination, while the governor insisted that he was merely certifying federal law and protecting business owners from unfair liability.
With Trump, some are skeptical. The billionaire only recently became a born-again Christian, and his lifestyle doesn’t mesh with what many evangelicals consider to be the ideal. On issues like abortion, he has stumbled, clearly unfamiliar with the nuances of the pro-life position.
In speaking out on this issue, Pence is telling Christian conservatives that they need not fear.