I’ve long been curious about Karen Pence, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s better half and probably one of the most likeable and approachable members of the Donald Trump administration. Fortunately, the Washington Post just came out with a profile, titled “Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield.”
Well, I thought, this should be good. And it’s a lot better than what the New York Times did on her.
Karen Pence refused to be interviewed for the Post story, which meant the reporter had to work twice as hard to get info. This also tells you something about the current relationship between this White House and the biggest newsroom inside the Beltway.
This being GetReligion, obviously we’re interested in the “prayer warrior” portion of the piece which starts thus:
As second lady, Karen Pence, 60, remains an important influence on one of President Trump’s most important political allies. She sat in on at least one interview as the vice president assembled his staff, accompanied her husband on his first foreign trip and joins him for off-the-record briefings with reporters, acting as his gut check and shield.
On the vice president’s visit last month to Germany and Belgium, the Pences quietly toured Dachau concentration camp, often holding hands, and huddled together on the Air Force Two ride home to debrief on the trip. When Mike Pence, 57, ventured to the back of the plane to chat off the record with reporters, his wife accompanied him, bearing a silver tray of cookies and standing by his side for the 20-minute conversation.
Next, the Post delved into what few details were available about her first marriage, which quickly ended in divorce. At least they tracked down her first husband, who now lives here in Seattle.
Then, she met Mike Pence at church. The article continues:
The Pences were married in a Roman Catholic church in 1985 but later became evangelical Christians.
In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill 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.
Now, Pence’s journey toward evangelical Christianity has been well documented, but not that of his wife.
How did she go from Catholic to evangelical? We’re not told.
If you’re divorced and Catholic, you can’t take Communion unless you get your marriage annulled. Since the Pence wedding was in a Catholic church, obviously an annulment was obtained. Then something made Karen Pence start gravitating toward evangelical Protestantism and by 1995, the couple was attending Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis. Maybe the reporter could have tried to connect those dots.
Also, the part about Pence not eating alone with any woman but his wife -- what is that all about? I know pastors who refuse to meet alone with women (following the “Billy Graham rule”) because they fear temptation or entrapment.
At least the reporter interviewed someone at the Family Research Council who knows about the Pences’ religious commitment and who had a good quote.
“You can’t get a dime between them,” said Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a senior domestic policy adviser on the Trump transition team. “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.”
Friends of Pence -- who say she quietly held a small Bible study group during her time in the governor’s mansion -- say her faith has sustained her through challenging periods, from when she and Mike first had trouble getting pregnant to the vagaries of politics, including her initial reluctance to support his third attempt to win a congressional seat.
Vicki Lake, the wife of the Pences’ former pastor, recalled a visit from Karen Pence one day at her Greenwood, Ind., home. As Pence was leaving, Lake recalled, “She grabbed my hands, and we prayed together in my laundry room.”
“That’s the kind of person she is, a person who believes in prayer, a godly mother and wife,” Lake said. “In fact, when Mike was a congressman, Karen would send out prayer requests to people -- to pray for them as a family, that God would give them the strength to do all that they had to do.”
There’s a few things missing from this piece. This New York Times piece says that when in Indiana, they now worship at College Park Church, an evangelical megachurch in Indianapolis. What made them leave Grace Evangelical and where in Washington are they worshiping now? Someone must know.
(Note: After this piece was posted, I was contacted by a "someone" who told me where the Pences used to worship while he was a member of Congress living in the area: At Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Va., where Karen Pence taught art at Immanuel's Christian school.)
Also, a video with the article says they are both still devout Catholics while we know they’ve been evangelicals for 20 years.
It’s obvious the reporter worked hard to interview everyone she could find to get information about a woman who’s a heartbeat or a scandal away from being a president’s wife. Apparently Karen Pence hasn’t left much of a written record anywhere of her thoughts and faith journey.
One omission I was surprised to see was about the Pences’ appearance at the annual March for Life rally on the Mall on Jan. 27. Karen, of course, was at his side and spoke first to the crowd. Their arrival was a shocker to pro-lifers who are used to being ignored by the White House and Pence was the highest official ever to attend the event.
What part did Karen Pence play in the decision to be there? There was a lot in this article, but so much more could have been said.