Southern Baptist ERLC Research Fellow Criticizes Mike Pence’s Approach To Honoring His Marriage

Tennessee Star

A research fellow with the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has written a piece for a liberal website criticizing Vice President Mike Pence for the boundaries he sets for his marriage.

Karen Swallow Prior wrote in Vox that “virtue ethics is better than the Billy Graham rule.”

Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, referenced the vice president’s longstanding rule to never eat alone with a woman other than his wife or attend events where alcohol is served unless his wife is with him. A recent Washington Post profile of Pence’s wife, Karen, mentioned how the vice president had spoken publicly about this commitment back in 2002.

Such an approach to honoring marital fidelity is dubbed “the Billy Graham rule” by some evangelicals because the famed evangelist is known for teaching and practicing similar safeguards.

Tennessee Star
Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English

But Prior said the focus on rules is misplaced and that what should be discussed is prudence.

“Prudence, in fact, is what seems to be missing from the conversation about the vice president’s ‘rules.’ And I don’t mean prudence in the way that some supporters of the Billy Graham rule are using the term. Prudence as properly understood is a virtue, not a rule,” Prior wrote.

Prior has been controversial among some Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians for what they characterize as liberal-leaning views and muted, overly-nuanced expression of Christian belief. She has been involved in animal rights activism and promoting evangelical outreach to gays that some say has led to confusing messages. She has also advocated for using “temperate words” when discussing abortion.

Prior was appointed to the ERLC by its president Russell Moore in 2014. While Moore has been the subject of criticism since stepping into his role in 2013, the tension has heated up in recent months, with more than 100 Southern Baptist churches threatening to pull funds from the program that supports the ERLC. The ERLC is the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention and has offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C.

Moore’s supporters say he is effective at appealing to millennials and broadening the scope of Christian concerns. But critics say he is too progressive on immigration, race, and other issues, and too condescending toward conservative Christian leaders and movements of the past few decades.


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5 Thoughts to “Southern Baptist ERLC Research Fellow Criticizes Mike Pence’s Approach To Honoring His Marriage”

  1. […] and his wife are evangelical Christians. The Washington Post piece prompted a backlash, even among some evangelicals, who said Pence’s approach goes too far and insults […]

  2. 1) Picking at the mote in her neighbor’s eye is the very essence of hypocrisy that Jesus cautions us against.
    2) (Speaking of outreach to gays) Same-sex marriage is a SECULAR situation, and *not* Holy Matrimony. But spreading the Gospel to all *is* our objective.
    3) Does the good Doctor Swallow After, I wonder?

  3. Jerome Roth

    Mike Pence is well within his rights to behave as he sees fit to benefit his marriage and his public life. There is temptation everywhere, especially for a good Christian man who holds public office. I think VP Pence is honorable in his practices, any Liberal minded so-called scholar has no business criticizing. As Liberals I’ve met have the lowest morals.
    A turn on the statement “if there is never an opportunity there can never be an occurrence.
    President Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words, was asked one day by a reporter, why he didn’t have much to say? His answer was simply: “If I don’t say anything, no one can ever ask me to repeat it.” Very profound in just a few words. In this day and age of social media, everyone has a camera, and an angle. I believe Mike Pence is very prudent in his behavior, prudence being a virtue or a rule.

  4. David K Dyer

    It is possible that the Vice President sees this as a possible weakness for himself in his Christian walk. I have the same ‘rule’, because if there is never an opportunity there can never be an occurrence.

  5. snerd

    Of course she’s an English Professor writing a critique of Pence’s virtuous marital behavior and not a trained ethicist or theologian.

    And she’s ugly too!