While at Phi Gamma Delta in college, Mike Pence was intrigued by a fraternity brother’s gold cross — and even more intrigued by what he said about the necklace pendant.
“Remember, Mike, you have got to wear it in your heart before you wear it around your neck,” his “big brother” told him, according to the New York Times.
Pence, 58, was born into an Irish immigrant family with five other siblings on a farm in the small town of Columbus, Indiana. Along with his three brothers, Pence served as an altar boy at the St. Columba parish church and attended as many as seven days a week. They grew up in Catholic school.
When he went off to Hanover College, a small liberal arts college in Indiana, he began to feel drawn to a more intimate, less ritualistic, approach to God.
“I began to meet young men and women who talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he told CBN. “That had not been a part of my experience.”
At a Christian music festival in the spring of 1978 in Kentucky, he accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord and was born again.
Still, his heartstrings remained firmly entrenched with his Catholic upbringing. He called himself an “evangelical Catholic” and even considered the priesthood as a career path.
“He was part of a movement of people, I’ll call it, who had grown up Catholic and still loved many things about the Catholic Church, but also really loved the concept of having a very personal relationship with Christ,” said Patricia Bailey, who, along with her husband Mark, worked at the Pence law firm in the 1980s in Indianapolis. Pence and Mark started every day with prayer at the firm.
In law school at Indiana University, Pence met Karen, who became his wife. As their relationship turned serious, she bought a gold cross with the word “Yes” engraved on it and carried it around in her purse to be ready for the inevitable proposition. Pence calls her “his prayer warrior.” The couple has three children.
In the political arena, Pence was a Democrat. His heroes were fellow Irish American John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. But as the Democratic Party fully embraced abortion, the man who grew up a staunch Catholic found himself feeling betrayed.
After voting for Jimmy Carter in 1980, he became attracted to the politics of Ronald Reagan. He never looked back.
After two failed campaigns for Congress, Pence won election in 2000 and served in the House of Representatives until 2011. He proved himself a man of convictions, not a political opportunist, and threw his support behind the Tea Party Movement. He declared he was willing to shut down the federal government in the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, the IndyStar reported. Read the rest of Mike Pence Christian.