Indiana Trans and the Pence-ing of Noem

By John Zmirak Published on March 8, 2024

One of the most appalling attacks on religious liberty and the family to make the news recently happened not in California or Oregon, but right in the heartland, in deep-red Indiana. As we reported here at The Stream on March 1:

Indiana CPS removed a child from his Catholic parents because they wouldn’t use his chosen name or pronouns that reflected his chosen gender orientation. CPS relocated the male child, who identifies as female, to a “gender-affirming” foster home after the child reported his parents to the authorities.

Their crime was simple: they continued to teach their son that sex is an unchanging characteristic created by God. Indiana CPS continued to keep the child in “gender-affirming” foster care even though an investigation revealed there was no evidence of abuse or mistreatment. The parents are appealing to the Supreme Court, asking them to hold the state accountable for taking their child from their home because they raised and loved their child according to their faith.

At this point you might be thinking: “If only an avowed Christian statesman had been in a position of power to pass a law protecting families and believers from that kind of demonic abuse!” Alas, there was someone in that position in Indiana whose job was to protect the lambs from such wolves.

“You Failed Us”

In 2015, conservatives and Christians passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana which would have protected believers’ conscience rights against LGBTQ litigation and abuses by the administrative state such as these Indiana parents now are suffering.

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But Gov. Mike Pence, who’d supported the bill, then gutted it because he was under pressure from business leaders who were afraid of boycotts from organizations like the NCAA. As the Indy Star reported:

A pastor who stood behind Gov. Mike Pence last month when he signed the “religious freedom” bill stood in the heart of the Statehouse on Monday and publicly rebuked Pence for the “betrayal” of signing the “fix” that quelled the national backlash.

The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr., standing with 19 other clergy who are part of his Indiana Pastors Alliance, told a cheering crowd of more than 150 people that Pence and other Republican leaders had failed to “stand for biblical truth.” In bending to pressure from business, media and gay rights activists, Johnson said, they were guilty of a “cowardly capitulation.”

“You failed us,” Johnson said. “And in doing so, you betrayed the trust of millions of Hoosiers who elected you to protect the liberties we hold so dear.”

That was the moment I believe Pence should have disappeared from Republican politics. Instead, Donald Trump rescued him from the backlash that might well have prevented his reelection by making Pence his vice-presidential pick. It wasn’t surprising to some of us that Pence went on to follow the same pattern of behavior — collapsing when it counts.

The Price of Pence

According to The Wall Street Journal, it was Pence who swayed President Trump to fire Gen. Mike Flynn when the FBI concocted charges against the man Trump had counted on to drain the Deep State swamp. That decision is what made possible the entire Russia-collusion hoax and the Democrats’ sham presidential impeachment.

Pence also appears to have misled President Trump about his intentions regarding the certification of dubious electors on January 6, 2021. As independent journalist Julie Kelly wrote, in the build-up to that day, Pence

intentionally delayed release of a letter outlining why he did not have the authority to reject electors from contested states. Rather than publish the statement the day before or early on January 6, Pence made it public right before the joint session of Congress convened at 1:00 p.m. (He claimed Trump caused the delay since Pence wanted to wait until the president was done speaking at the Ellipse before sending the letter. Trump took the stage about an hour later than planned.)

By waiting until the last minute to make his case, Pence misled the president and Trump supporters who — justifiably or not — believed he could, or would, do something about an election that Pence himself admitted was not on the square.

In presidential debates in 2023, Pence refused to criticize the aggressive prosecution and imprisonment of January 6 election integrity protestors for misdemeanors, even though Pence himself was spared prosecution on potential felonies for the mishandling of classified documents.

Is Kristi Noem Mike Pence in Cowboy Boots?

Now we must ask ourselves, will Donald Trump make another mistaken vice-presidential choice in 2024? By many media accounts, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is on Trump’s short list. Has she shown herself more faithful to those who trusted her — particularly Christian parents facing the same trans agenda as those hapless Indiana Catholics?

Not if you look at how Noem fought to gut the South Dakota Legislature’s effort to protect girls’ and women’s sports from “trans” men muscling in. Margot Cleveland wrote about that in The Federalist, in a piece titled “The Worst Thing About Kristi Noem’s Sports Capitulation Is Her Lies.”

Cleveland wrote that Noem claimed simply to tweak that bill in order to protect the state from litigation, but in fact “completely gutted the proposed statute,” under pressure from … drumroll please … the NCAA. The same organization that got Mike Pence to cave. Cleveland called on Noem to

at least be honest. Tell America that her obligation is to her South Dakota constituents and that the Chamber of Commerce, Amazon, and the NCAA threatened the economic wellbeing of her citizens.

If Noem isn’t up for the task, or if she believes her duty to her South Dakota constituents demands she put their monetary interests first, fine. But don’t wave the white flag of surrender and tell me you’re merely waving to your coalition to join you.

In other words, Mammon comes first, and the rights of Christians and families a distance second.

Is that the kind of wing man Donald Trump will need if he is elected, after an endless siege of lawfare and trumped-up lawsuits aimed at bankrupting his family? Is it the kind of presumptive presidential frontrunner Christian parents will need in 2028?


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. His upcoming book is No Second Amendment, No First.

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