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Christian college president out after inviting Pence to speak

‘Perspective’ of the board: Resignation wasn’t related to Pence controversy

Vice President Mike Pence got a standing ovation at Indiana’s Taylor University when the former Indiana governor gave its commencement address last month.

The only thing the mainstream media cared about, however, was the small number of graduates and faculty who walked out of commencement to protest Pence before he even spoke.

Unless there’s something else everyone’s afraid to say publicly, that’s all it took to convince the Christian university’s president to step down.

The university made the surprise announcement Tuesday, with the board of trustees claiming that President Paul Haines’ resignation was “neither solicited nor encouraged” and that he “continues to enjoy strong support from the board.”

Haines graduated from Taylor in 1975 and “remains supportive of and optimistic about the University’s future,” the board said, crediting him with strengthening the university’s “historical, evangelical, orthodox Christian mission and purposes.”

He’s only been in the job for three years and did not give a reason for his exit in the university’s press release, leaving little other explanation than backlash to his invitation of Pence.

Religion News Service says the school “always has prided itself on welcoming diverse Christian perspectives and doesn’t have a history of political activism,” calling the Pence invitation the “most controversial” decision made under Haines’ leadership. Faculty narrowly voted to oppose Pence’s invitation.

Haines is otherwise known for bringing popular Christian figures to campus, including NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and musician Michael W. Smith. Taylor also got top U.S. News rankings among Midwestern colleges twice under Haines’ leadership and enrolled its largest-ever freshman class last fall.

MORE: Pence gets standing ovation after student walkout

An email from Haines to the community, obtained by RNS, says the controversy around his invitation of Pence was a “deeply emotional challenge” but he made it with “the best of intentions.” The president framed the invitation in terms of “diversity of thought and personhood.”

He also apologized to students in an April chapel service, student newspaper The Echo reported then. Haines professed ignorance of the “depth of pain” that his invitation could cause, and asked for “your forgiveness for that.” He said he did not want to “pass on the opportunity” of inviting a vice president to whom the college was connected, according to the Echo.

Visitors to the university’s Facebook post about Haines’ resignation were largely opposed to it. When a parent threatened to keep her daughter from attending Taylor if the university “caves to the Liberal pressures,” the university reiterated that the board supported Haines.

A university spokesperson told Christianity Today that while it didn’t know why Haines chose to resign, the Pence controversy was “not related” in the “perspective” of the board.

Contrary to the claim by RNS, Christianity Today noted another political controversy during Haines’ reign: His criticism of an anonymous conservative newsletter, Excalibur, created by a few faculty and staff in 2018 to criticize what they considered the university’s liberal drift.

Haines’ resignation is effective Aug. 15.

Read the announcement, RNS coverage and Christianity Today‘s report.

h/t Inside Higher Ed

MORE: Grads who walked out on Pence’s commencement speech got booed

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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