Lee University Major Donor, Others Praise & Criticize Event Featuring VP Mike Pence

Jul 23, 2018

U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn and Vice Present Mike Pence onstage at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee on 7/21/18
Credit WUTC

Vice President Mike Pence mostly got a warm reception Saturday at evangelical Lee University in East Tennessee. Speaking inside a school building, Pence encouraged the crowd, "Pray for America! "

He was campaigning for Republican primary candidates, touting Trump’s tax cuts, and pledging support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at an event organized by America First Policies.

About 5,000 students attend Lee University, a Church-of-God-affiliated school. But a small crowd of those young evangelicals protested Pence's appearance on campus, sayingthe born-again Christian Vice President isn’t helping the poor and oppressed.

Lee University student Allyson Fadel said, "I believe that Mike Pence and his administration is not taking care of the weak in the way that Jesus would have wanted us to. I’m a Christian; I’m not necessarily Republican or Democrat."

Allan Jones, a major donor to Lee University, expressed a different concern about the event. Jones made millions founding Cleveland-based Check Into Cash, and is a major area employer. After the event, Jones said he was excited to see Pence in Pangle Hall (a campus building named after Jones's wife, Janie Pangle Jones.)

However, Jones noted that several Tennessee businesses were highlighted during the event--but none based in Cleveland, Tennessee.

"I was disappointed in that part of it," Jones said. "They just didn't cover it."

He noted that Hardwick Clothes wasn't mentioned. The business is America's oldest maker of tailored clothing, and a significant area employer. Jones is the owner.

You can listen to Pence's complete speech here: