Pence discusses Jan. 6, RFRA fallout at Indianapolis book signing

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Mike Pence signs copies of his new autobiography, "So Help Me God," at the Indiana Historical Society, Nov. 22, 2022 (Peter Blanchard/IBJ photo)

Former Vice President Mike Pence brought his national book tour to his home state Tuesday night, telling a crowd in Indianapolis about his Christian faith journey, the fallout from Indiana’s passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and his decision to defy Trump’s call to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The former Indiana governor stopped for a book-signing and speaking event at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center one week after the release of his autobiography, “So Help Me God,” which has brought him much media attention and intensified speculation about whether he’ll run for president in 2024.

Pence briefly suggested that he and his wife, Karen, are considering their future, a comment that came during a question-and-answer session moderated by former Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Murphy and attended by about 300 paying patrons.

“Whatever the future holds for Karen and me, we’re going to have border security,” Pence said, while declaring the Trump-Pence administration reduced illegal immigration by 90 percent. “We can secure our border.”

The comment arose while Pence explained his history on immigration policy.

Pence said that while he was a congressman in 2006 he was invited to the White House by the Bush administration to discuss his immigration plan, which included a provision that would have offered a chance for people who had come to the country illegally to obtain legal status.

When Bush asked Pence about why he was interested in immigration given that Indiana was not a border state, Pence said he invoked his grandfather, Richard Michael Cauley, who arrived in the U.S. from Ireland via Ellis Island in 1923.

Pence also addressed the backlash he faced as Indiana governor after he signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, in 2015, which opponents claimed could be used to discriminate against LGBTQ groups. Organizations such as the NCAA, Apple, Salesforce and other companies came out against the law, as did then-Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, who called on state lawmakers to repeal the law or add explicit protections for LGBTQ groups.

As the state’s reputation suffered and pressure from the business community continued to mount, Pence said he felt compelled to ask legislators to amend the law to include those protections–despite his strong belief in the freedom of religious institutions.

“Things that were being said about Indiana were unacceptable, and so we went to the legislature and said, ‘Let’s clarify that nothing in this legislation authorizes discrimination against anyone,” Pence said.

He went on to say, “I believe that marriage was ordained by God. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, but I also believe that you love your neighbor as yourself, and to know our families, I can tell you we treat everybody with respect, whether we agree with people’s views or values or not.”

Unlike many Republicans campaigning for public office during the midterms, Pence has not shied away from the issue of abortion. When asked if the fall of Roe v. Wade was his greatest impact, Pence said he will always “cherish” being part of an administration that saw the appointment of three Supreme Court justices who voted to return the issue of abortion policy to the states.

He also indicated that anti-abortion groups had more work to do to advance their cause.

“I think it’s time for us to redouble our efforts to support the unborn, to support women in crisis pregnancies and to support newborns in America,” Pence said.

In his autobiography, Pence recounts his final tumultuous weeks in office, from Trump frantically seeking evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election to the deadly riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The former Hoosier governor, who has called Jan. 6 “a tragic day,” said his decision to defy Trump was driven by his belief in the U.S. Constitution.

“I made it very clear to the president over and over in the days leading up that I did not have the authority to reject or return electoral votes,” Pence said. “There’s probably no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the president.”

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28 thoughts on “Pence discusses Jan. 6, RFRA fallout at Indianapolis book signing

  1. Some 300 paying members of the audience gave Pence a friendly reception, none too eager to seek a greater understanding of his theological approach to government. Since leaving office, he has waffled between praise for Trump and his policies (including dubious statements on the impact of those policies), and mild criticism of Trump over January 6. He is trying to be “all things to all people.” It all sounds carefully rehearsed and delivered in a faux passion lacks sincerity. That is not a formula for success.

    1. Just remember what was said the week after the 2020 election:

      “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?” a senior Republican official told the Washington Post. “No one seriously thinks the results will change. He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”

      So for you “why do you go so hard after (insert name of politician here)” folks, it’s because I actually listen to what they say and what they intend to happen in their own words. Don’t tell me it won’t happen here just because you can’t imagine it.

  2. Many in his party said he would not be reelected, in part because of RFRA, and that Trump saved him. He was far from our best governor. Remember all the suffering and death over the drug crisis in Austin, Indiana, where he refused action. So much more to say about him.

  3. Belief is free to all. Religion is free to all. Yet one‘s beliefs nor religion should trample the rights of others nor allow or effect harm, harassment, or discrimination. Nor should laws be written based on a religion viewpoint which can readily be commingled with personal bias.

    I believe that all individuals have the right to marry whom they wish and for that marriage to be recognized equally under the laws of the United States and each state. Should one believe, based on his or her religion that holy [!] matrimony is only available to a man and woman, that is fine within that religion — and that house of worship.

    Religious marriage (à la Pence) and civil marriage per law. And let us consider religions or religious beliefs that do not condone interracial marriage, or religions and religious beliefs that support racial superiority, or religions and religious beliefs that justify exploitation and suppression and subjugation of those considered uncivilized or unacceptable.

    And let us not forget religious beliefs and doctrines change and can be cherry-picked — would some highly religious embrace fornicators or might some have participated in such an activity themselves. And multiple holy matrimony and divorce events are quite OK? Hmm.

    1. Non religious people and others should NOT trample religious and artistic freedom either.

      RFRA did NOT discriminate against anybody any more than the new
      Georgia Voting suppressed black voters.

      Leftists were shreiking like their hair was on fire UNJUSTLY for nothing.

    2. RFRA and Georgia Voting are completely different. One was focused on so called rights that were not endangered and one focused on soothing egos for a perceived problem that actually did not exist.

      It is not just a religious vs non-religious issue, but an issue of different religions as well. No single group should repress any other through laws.

      Determining how to effect mutual respects without trampling others‘ rights should be the focus. Yet prevailing actions do not seek that.

      Is religion imperiled? But are gay spouses imperiled? Are religious and non-religious pregnant people imperiled unfairly by prevailing laws? And are laws based on a particular religious group‘s preference or abhorrence and if so is this not counter to unbiased laws and freedom of [any] religion.

  4. It’s heartening to know that so many perfect people read IBJ and are free to pontificate based on their perfection.

    Secular-humanism will (and is) systematically destroying The United States of America, which, while it was never founded or intended to be a “Christian Nation,” was nonetheless founded on Judeo-Christian principles that served it well until the last several generations decided those principles were obsolete and the country should embrace “truth” that every man is their own god, rather than consulting The God of Creation for counsel as to what to believe and how to behave.

    1. Bob, this commentary is completely based on logical fallacy. Comments here about Pence’s painfully obvious shortcomings do not in any way represent a declaration of perfection by those making them. That statement is merely a weak faux defense that attempts and fails to discredit critics.

      Likewise, catastrophizing that “secular-humanism” is somehow destroying our country with recent generations and that somehow Judeo-Christian principles only can save it is also a false argument in multiple ways. First, your statement suggests that those principles were stronger in the past and somehow led to a past golden age with fewer domestic problems. One, correlation isn’t causation and two, study history, you’ll find that it’s always been somewhat messy. Second, the imposition of Judeo-Christian principles on all flies in the face of the principle of freedom of religion which is both tolerant of all religions and also guarantees freedom FROM religion.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

    2. Hey Bob, don’t recall you being upset about all the folks claiming sincerely held religious exemptions from vaccines when their only faith was that they were their own God, thereby cheapening all those principles.

      Christians are called to not focus on their time on earth, but on eternity. The shift of focus to worry about politics and the Christian nationalism that has infected churches has the potential to be devastating to the salvation of a lot of people.

    3. Joe B.
      Christian Nationalism is just another leftwing invented boogeyman.

      The United States was founded on Judeo Christian Values.
      What’s the problem???

      No one is being persecuted for being non believers. It is the non believers
      that are constantly trying to tear down our culture and traditions.

    4. Keith, that’s literally the point for a bunch of Christian nationalists. Try the book “The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism”. Or just settle for an interview with the author.

      The United States of America is not being destroyed because of brown people or because of every decreasing numbers of people visiting church pews. If you actually think that will be the downfall of America, you didn’t pay attention much during history classes… to realize that people who peddle that nonsense to get your votes or dollars are just hucksters. Pretty much all of them have ancestors who once were “the dirty foreigners” who didn’t come from the right country or believe “the right religion”.

    5. Translation of Derek:

      “It’s okay when we do it.”

      Wokish is still a religion for the intellectually crippled, whose primary goal is to drag everyone else into their cesspits rather than to better themselves. The even have liturgical phrases: “Pregnant people”, “It should be treated like a religion and we heretics should absolutely be ready to respond with the like amount of force imposed upon us. Keep in mind I’ve been an atheist for most of my life and still support gay marriage, but as most sensible libertarians, do not believe religious institutions should be forced to support it in kind. But most atheists are in fact deeply religious people with w religion-sized whole they seek to fill, and for the less intelligent, wokism fills that hole.

    6. Bob–

      You are of course correct and the least critically thinking among this gaggle (Joe, Brent, Wesley) are just caught up in the massive sweep of the Overton window because they assess the legacy media and treat it as factual. As walking representatives of confirmation bias, they gravitate toward views they want to hear and assume that news that represents their cult negatively is merely propaganda. They give no credence to the notion that propaganda exists massively on both sides, but since one side has the overwhelming control of the formerly neutral institutions (most of which are collapsing as more people recognize them for partisan horse-poo). Yes, this completely includes the woke-infested Christianity Today (Billy Graham would no doubt be turning in his grave). Christianity Today is basically the tone and tenor of Sojourners in 2005, and Sojourners today is Leninist Marxism. It’s the Overton Window shift. Thankfully, they’re both becoming irrelevant.

      Keep in mind, Joe is so incapable of viewing his propaganda critically that he tries to assuage us that “United States of America is not being destroyed because of brown people” (all while, quite obviously, the MAGA movement has brought more racial/ethnic diversity to the GOP than Turtleman and Lindsey-Windsey ever did)…and he pretends to care about vaccines while thinking they should have been mandated, but abortion is fundamentally a bridge too far, because “it’s okay when we do it”. He can’t even be consistent in bodily autonomy. Pure partisan, and yet he froths about “Christian dominionism” because Salon or HuffPo or Vox or RightWingWatch or some other lefty trash-rag tells him this.

      Secular humanism is, at its core, a belief that humans can transcend their squabbles and rise above themselves to build a truly great society (LBJ buzzword fully intended). It has never happened, it never will happen, and the best features of Abrahamic religions are that they remind us of this and thereby serve to humble humans, doing their best to keep them from developing God complexes. While humans are sinful and never fallible (even religious humans do develop God complexes), the majority of 20th century atrocities came from attempts to build utopia on secular, humanistic principles: leftists like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot.

      It’s subversion straight from the pages of Yuri Bezmenov, and while it is likely to prompt massive and completely justified violence (the tree DOES need watering), it may not come in the way they want…or the way any of us expect.

    7. Lauren, the irony that you of all people is going to trash every source and claim everything is propaganda… all the while going on about the dangers of secular humanism is rather rich. I am beginning to think you’re embarrassed by where you get your news.

      Everyone is a fool, only you have the truth, and you’re going to lecture others about God complexes. Literally, you are the biggest example of what you rail against, which I’ve figured out is the MAGA movement in a nutshell.

      Buy a mirror. Or, learn a lesson from Scarface. Don’t get high on your own supply.

    8. “Everyone is a fool, only you have the truth, and you’re going to lecture others about God complexes. Literally, you are the biggest example of what you rail against, which I’ve figured out is the MAGA movement in a nutshell.”

      I get my news from neckbeards who report from their bedrooms. Not embarrassed in the least. And if my news sources were so embarrassing, you’d think the legacy media would laugh them off. But they’re absolutely terrified of them and are seeking any and every way to thwart their ability to reach people via the Internet–the same Internet by which legacy sites like NYT, CNN, Fox, are losing ground.

      The only thing that makes me smarter than you, Joe, is that I know what human limitations are. That a single worldview cannot lead to a paradise and that it will most likely immiserate far more than it emancipates. In that regard–in knowing how little I know–my biggest issues are the obvious “truth” that there is no overarching truth…but we have a segment of society–the wokies–who are vastly more convinced they have found the “truth” than any Evangelicons ever would be. At least most of the Evangelicons believe in a higher power. The wokies believe the higher power is among them…thankfully they’ll be slitting one another’s throats as they vie for that top seat. (Better them than us.)

      Moral absolutism will be the downfall of the modern West. It was horrible when it was religious fundies, but since religious fundies get “fact-checked” 1,000X a day (as they should) by Politico and ABC and WaPo and all your other legacy swill…we have much more to worry about the worldviews that those propaganda sites DON’T check. “The experts agree…” “The science says…” They are trying to evoke a deity-level of authority without having any supernatural. Late 19th century had a similar level of ideological confidence, riding on the heals of the modernity of Industrial Revolution and the next stage of Enlightenment thinking. Where did this “progressive” hubris take us? The atrocities of the early 20th century–filled with secularists seeking to impose their utopia on the serfs.

    9. So superior … and still can’t share a link, still. It must be quite the site.

      Look, it’s rather ponderous that everything devolves to “all news sites are trash” and “I’m smarter than you because I said I am.” For once, give an alternative.

      Best I can tell, you’ve been had by those after a kleptocracy with them in charge. They want to run things and pocket your freedom and money, all the while telling you that your true enemy isn’t then, it’s that “elite” over there. It’s the same empty promises that pyramid schemes like crypto offered people.

      “Politicians already do that”

      Sure, and what’s the alternative you have? You’re just offering a different hog at the trough, one that’s decidedly less competent than the current hogs.

      You want the serfs to be abused by just some different folks because … what, you’ll get a double helping of potato in the food line because you’re a loyal and faithful serf?

      “Sure, comrade, we are still broke and still hungry and still have no future, but we stuck it to those elites, didn’t we?”

      How’s that kleptocracy working out in Russia? They sure seem to have an epidemic of folks deciding to fall out of windows from high storied buildings. Odd, that.

  5. Watching Mike Pence obediently plodding along in TRUMPS shadow grinning and nodding and enabling him as TRUMP spewed tens of thousands of his lies until at the last moment TRUMP kicked him to his wolves for doing the one right thing he couldn’t avoid doing is proof that Pence is no more fit to be the President than his idol he can’t quite reject was.

    1. How do you know what Pence was thinking while VP???
      Maybe he was trying to help steer a man that did not want his guidance.

      As far as lies go, Biden lies constantly but the left and their legacy national news
      media lapdogs excuse it. Just good ole uncle Joe making another gaffe.
      Gaffe, a word that was rarely ever used by the Media until Biden ran
      for office.

  6. Keith, all presidents make gaffes – including Trump (his were doozies). As far as lies go, Trump took the grand prize for those during his four years in the White. Biden will never match his immediate predecessor in that category.

    1. Brent B. –
      Biden has already matched Trumps gaffes and lies.

      The difference is that no one not even the legacy national news media are
      are fact checking or scrutinizing Biden anywhere near the level that they did
      with Trump.

      Second, the legacy national news media are all in for the Dems. It’s no
      secret. The legacy news media pretty much run with Dem talking points and

      Third, many so called Trump lies were fabrications or just flat out lies by his
      accusers. Trump’s legacy national news media detractors literally abandoned
      all objectivity and journalistic standards. Their excuse was “ Well Trump
      is a bad person or that he lies, so why can’t we “.

      Here’s another difference. Trump is a marketing guy. His supporters understood
      that. His detractors did not.

      Trump supporters took Trump seriously but not literally.
      Anti Trumpers took Trump literally but not seriously.

      All of that said, I’m no longer a Trump supporter. I stopped supporting him when
      he refused to concede the election of 2020 and how he treated anyone
      that disagreed with him.

      We need honestly.

      As far as Pence, the left will hate him no matter what he says or does.

    2. Trump was a marketing guy? Maybe marketing himself. In the end, he was screaming at Republicans to not pass Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill because he found it embarrassing that he never delivered on that front.

      Spare me about the honestly. You can’t win a Republican primary being an honest person.

      Mike Pence has sold himself out for power. If he’d have walked when Trump made his Access Hollywood remarks, I’d have had some respect for him. Nope, he covered for Trump and cajoled Christians into voting for him regardless. Traded integrity for power and ended up with neither in the end, with a mob ready to hang him. Yet he still persists.

      Pence thinks God has put himself in this situation, that’s he’s a chosen one. I’d agree with that – but I think he’s been chosen to serve as an example of what happens when you trade your principles for power… you end up with neither, and you serve as a cautionary example for generations to come as a spiritually bankrupt individual.

      Billy Graham at least had the decency to feel remorse about being used by Richard Nixon. I’ve seen no indication that Mike Pence has had any such spiritual awakening. The sooner, the better.

    3. The fact that trump refused to concede the election was the best thing about him. Of course they make him out to be a pariah, but that’s how they treat ANYONE who stands up against the uniparty to any enduring degree, regardless of profession. It’s why Elon and Kanye face routine cancellation It was of course fully justified because the party of Tammany Hall, Jim Crow, and dead voters (in fill-in-the-blank city) does cheat and rig and “fortify” elections routinely. And the Elephant Party is more than happy to enable them.

      This is a uniparty issue. Which is a crisis because a uniparty shouldn’t exist. I remain rigidly Independent because a sizable portion of the GOP is just as complicit as the majority of the Dems–as was the case when the GOP was weak in standing up against Dixiecrats, because they didn’t want to alienate their own WASPy base in the 1960s. If Jan 6 was not a free and fair election (it wasn’t), then the extremely mild violence (partly amplified by FBI glowies, by the FBI’s own admission) was fully justified. As it always would be when a political party congeals into an organized crime ring, of which Rudy Giuliani is all too familiar. He knew what was up in the 1980s and he knew it again in 2020. Meanwhile, Pence is as useless as his endorsements during GOP primaries.

      Don’t concede to the swamp Keith. They want you to be convinced that fundamentally Mitch and Mitt and Liz are the reasonable ones. They aren’t. They’d happily sell the nation upriver, and its people (who they see as their subjects), if the price is high enough.

    4. January 6th wasn’t an election. It was a coup attempt by a loser to change the result of an election that he lost because he’s the same loser who can’t even play a round of golf without cheating.

      “(Tirico) hit the 3-wood of his life. “Oh my god!” his caddy said, open- mouthed. The thing had the flag covered from the start. It crested the hill perfectly and was going to be tight to the pin. Shocked at his sudden skill, Tirico high-fived his caddie and strode toward the green, his shoes barely touching the grass.

      But, somehow, when they got there, the ball wasn’t near the pin. It wasn’t even on the green. It was 50 feet left of the pin, in the bunker. Unless it hit a drone and ricocheted sideways, there was no physical way it could’ve ended up there.

      “Lousy break,” Trump said to Tirico, who checked the marking on the ball to be sure it was his. It was. Befuddled, it took Tirico two swipes to escape the bunker on the way to a 7.

      “Afterwards,” Tirico remembers, “Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘You know that shot you hit on the par 5? It was about 10 feet from the hole. Trump threw it into the bunker. I watched him do it.’”

      What did Tirico do? He laughed, shook his head, went inside, and paid Trump his money. When it comes to golf, Trump is the tornado and you are the trailer. “

      It’s not just when it comes to golf, Lauren. He’s the same cheating loser in all aspects of his life.