Evangelist Franklin Graham expressed his anger on May 22 about students who walked out during Vice President Mike Pence's commencement address at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on May 21 (video below).
According to CNN, a group of graduates walked out in protest against Pence and his policies. After departing the ceremony, the grads held a short alternative "graduation ceremony" outside of Notre Dame Stadium.
Graham wrote on Facebook that the graduates should have their diplomas destroyed because of their walkout:
Just rip them up! Maybe that’s what the president of University of Notre Dame should have done to the diplomas of the students who so rudely got up and walked out of commencement as the Vice President was speaking this weekend. These young people must not have been taught the meaning of respect.
They knew well in advance who was going to be speaking at their commencement; and if they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t have come. The New York Times says many of those who walked out were wearing their LGBT rainbow or flag pins in protest. To get up and walk out on the Vice President of the United States of America, who was gracious enough to come speak at their graduation, that’s just insolent!
Maybe they need to take another class before they graduate -- one on civility and respect. What do you think? This country is so fortunate to have a Vice President like Mike Pence. He’s a great man and a strong leader who isn’t afraid to speak the truth. I thank God for him.
According to The Christian Post, Pence spoke about freedom of speech, which is what the students say they were doing when they walked out:
Notre Dame is a campus where deliberation is welcomed, where opposing views are debated, and where every speaker, no matter how unpopular or unfashionable, is afforded the right to air their views in the open for all to hear.
Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone-policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness, all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech...
As you, our youth, are the future, and universities the bellwether of thought and culture, I would submit that the increasing intolerance and suppression of the time-honored tradition of free expression on our campuses jeopardizes the liberties of every American. This should not, and must not be met with silence.
We StaND For, a student activist organization, announced the protest days earlier and released a statement, noted ThinkProgress on May 19:
During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as a Vice-President, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities.
All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.