Vice President Mike Pence is considered by many to be a devout Christian man. He became governor of the Hoosier State in 2013. Previously, he had worked as a lawyer, president of the Indiana Policy Review, political talk radio show host, and U.S. congressman.
Growing up in an Irish Catholic family that reportedly revered the Kennedys, Pence served as an altar boy and went to parochial school in Columbus, Indiana. As a member of the U.S. House from 2000 until his election as governor, Pence had a “reputation as a culture warrior that was unsullied,” according to Roll Call. The website lists his accomplishments as opposing the expansion of abortion rights and federal spending on embryonic stem cell research, pushed a constitutional amendment against same-s*x marriage and briefly cut off new federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
In 2015, Pence clashed with the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis when he halted state support for efforts to relocate refugees, citing security concerns. The archdiocese defied him by welcoming a Syrian family to the city anyway. In the end, the governor said that while he disagreed with the archdiocese’s action, he would not block food stamps and other state aid for the family.
So it comes as no surprise that Pence would take to social media to share a moving moment of faith. However, who the message was from came as a surprise…at least for those on the left anyway.
According to the Daily Wire, the moment occurred when he met the three American detainees returning from North Korea: one of the men handed him a note on which was written the 126th Psalm.
It was an amazing moment I’ll never forget… when 3 Americans stepped onto the tarmac at @JBA_NAFW & gave me a signed personal note with Psalm 126 on the back. “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion…” To these men of faith & courage – God bless you & welcome home! pic.twitter.com/vQhdllUADy
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 10, 2018
“It is not clear who wrote the note; one of the men is an ordained evangelical pastor and another is reportedly a Christian missionary.
The three men who were released were Kim Hak Soon, Kim Dong Chul, and Kim Sang Duk. Hak-Soon and Sang Duk, who taught at the Pyongyang University of Science & Technology (PUST), were detained in April & May 2017; Kim Dong Chul was arrested in October 2015.
Kim Hak-song was ordained as an evangelical Christian pastor affiliated with the Oriental Mission Church in Los Angeles. His wife told CNN that he is an agricultural expert who’d been teaching rice-growing at the university.
Kim Dong Chul has said he is a Christian missionary. A North Korean defector, Ma Young-ae, told Reuters on Tuesday that she had met Kim in the United States in January 2016. She stated, “He told the churches that he was a missionary working on North Korea and sending stuff from China into the North to help poor North Koreans.”
Kim Sang Dok’s son, Sol, stated that his father had been teaching accounting and business at PUST.”
Breitbart reported in May that “American media outlets circulated news reports Wednesday afternoon alleging that North Korea had ‘released’ the three U.S. prisoners it is known to have placed in labor camps as punishment for crimes against the nation’s communist ideology.
All appear to link back to a report from one activist, citing ‘a resident in Pyongyang,’ who says that the three Korean-Americans were relocated from a labor camp to a Pyongyang hotel for ‘ideological education.’ There is no indication that the Americans could choose to decline being educated in North Korea’s cult-like Juche ideology, which demands the worship of Kim Jong-un and his family – calling into question whether it is accurate to refer to them as ‘freed.’
Several Western media outlets alleged that the men had been released. ‘North Korea Allegedly Released U.S. Prisoners Ahead of Landmark Meeting with Trump, reported Newsweek. A headline on Business Insider read, ‘North Korea Reportedly Hands Trump Another Big Win by Releasing U.S. Prisoners.’ ‘North Korea Releases U.S. Detainees, Bows to Another Trump Demand,’ the Washington Times printed.
While the Trump administration has made bringing home Americans unjustly imprisoned abroad a hallmark of its policy, and many argue Kim Jong-un has much to gain from ceding to this demand, reports at press time do not confirm that the three prisoners are released – nor do they guarantee that they ultimately will be.
The information cited in these reports comes from Choi Sung-ryong, an advocate who represents the group Family Assembly of those Abducted to North Korea, who has taken interest in these cases as the three U.S. citizens known to be detained in North Korea are Korean-Americans. Choi told the Agence-France Presse (AFP) that a contact within North Korea told him that the prisoners ‘are staying in a hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang.’ Previously held in labor camps for ideological crimes, Choi says the three are ‘going on tours, receiving medical treatment and eating good food.’
The Financial Times, also citing Choi’s remarks, says that to them he added that Kim Dong-cheol, Kim Sang-deok, and Kim Hak-seong were also undergoing ‘ideological education.’
‘Today I spoke to a source in North Korea by phone,’ Choi said, according to a third source, UPI. ‘North Korea’s superior office in early April ordered the release of Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk, and Kim Hak-song, and since then they have been convalescing at a hotel outside Pyongyang, where they are also being educated.'”