On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, where he participated in the church’s so-called “Celebrate Freedom” event. The event was held amidst a new surge of Coronavirus cases in the state, and photos from inside the event reveal that essentially no one in the church was exactly practicing any kind of social distancing measures to thwart the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, protesters gathered outside the church where Pence participated in the event, and some of the peaceful demonstrators even antagonized police officers by holding donuts on sticks, as if they were trying to convince the officers to break formation.
Check out footage of the protesters and their donuts on sticks below:
— Trace Miller (@w_tres_mil) June 28, 2020
At the actual event, First Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress delivered a de facto endorsement for a 2024 Pence presidential run. Of course, it’s far from certain that Trump and Pence will be in the White House for the four years following the next presidential election, but Jeffress assumed as much.
According to one local reporter, Jeffress said:
‘Mr. Vice President, I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but my congregation knows that hasn’t stopped me before. [Many] Christians are hoping & praying that when you have finished your term as VP in 2024… we don’t want you moving out of the West Wing. We just want you to move down the hall a few doors & continue to build on the legacy of the most faith-friendly [president ever].’
Jeffress' preface to this: "Mr. Vice President, I know I probably shouldn't say this, but my congregation knows that hasn't stopped me before."
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) June 28, 2020
During his own remarks, Pence addressed issues like the Trump administration’s ongoing culture war-fueled crusade in defense of statues around the U.S. that honor racists. Trump has even insisted that he adamantly opposes renaming military bases that are named after Confederate generals — who, of course, fought on behalf of slavery.
Pence issued a melodramatic condemnation of hyped-up looting incidents, insisting:
‘Burning churches is not protest. Tearing down statues is not free speech. There will be no tolerance for vandalism or violence in the United States and we will prosecute those who do it to the fullest extent of the law. That’s how we defend freedom.’
Is “defending freedom” what authorities were trying to do when they attacked peaceful protesters who’d gathered outside the White House on June 1? In the infamous incident, protesters had gathered peacefully and legally when authorities attacked them with chemical irritants and brute physical force. Shortly afterward, Trump held a photo op at a local church.
Is “defending freedom” what Trump was trying to do when he repeatedly threatened to dispatch active-duty members of the military against peaceful protesters who turned out around the country recently amidst nationwide outcry against police violence?
This public safety alert was just sent to Houston residents pic.twitter.com/kjspqg6DjW
— Mark Lewis (@marklewismd) June 26, 2020
After his speech at the Dallas church, Pence was slated to meet with Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), who had to roll back some of his state’s reopening measures just this past Friday amidst surging Coronavirus cases. Abbott’s administration closed down bars in the state, and they ordered a reduction of in-person seating capacity at restaurants, all as part of an effort to keep the virus from continuing to spread. Some areas, like Houston, have been struggling to maintain appropriate capacity in their medical facilities to care for the community.
I just got this Alert on my phone. For those who don’t know, Harris County is Houston and surrounding areas. Population roughly 6 million people. pic.twitter.com/uT2FeF4Ee2
— Johnny Biggs (@JohnnyBiggs13) June 26, 2020