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Twitter Tangles With the Billy Graham Rule

Twitter Tangles With the Billy Graham Rule

As we noted yesterday, The Washington Post released a lengthy profile on Karen Pence, America’s new second lady. Tossed into the profile was a little note about how Vice President Mike Pence never has dinner alone with any woman who is not his wife or attends any function that serves alcohol without her. Christian culture scholars may recognize this as a variation of the famed Billy Graham Rule, so-named for the globetrotting evangelist’s strict rules about who he was alone with.

But not everyone is a Christian culture scholar, so the Pence’s rules raised some eyebrows across Twitter and also ignited a debate well worth having. The rule’s proponents maintained that the Billy Graham Rule could go a long way towards protecting marriages and squashing rumors of infidelity. But some detractors pointed out that the rule has a tendency to fall into the old trap of reducing women to sexual traps for hapless men, and can also hinder professional advancement for women who may not be able to build connections in a patriarchal power structure if they can’t meet one on one with the gatekeepers in their fields.

Here are a few thoughts from the Twittersphere.

It’s a good conversation with some interesting nuances. No doubt a lot of faithful adherents to the rule had never considered the ways it might end up inadvertently holding some women back. Likewise, a lot of people who object to the Billy Graham Rule may not be aware of some of the marriages it’s protected.

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