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Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The Pence family has become known for their devotion to their Christian faith, but Charlotte Pence, the 25 year old daughter of Mike Pence, has admitted that her faith was not always as strong as it is now. Instead, she said that she “turned away from God” and “[did] not want anything to do with religion” during a year spent studying abroad at Oxford.

“I was interested in atheism for a while,” Pence said. “I wasn’t as interested in Christianity. As I say in [‘Where You Go: Life Lessons From My Father’], that left me with more questions than answers.” In the book, Pence explains how she “wanted to do life without God” and avoided spending time with “religious friends,” but found that atheism could not answer her questions.

“I…spent much of the year reading from thought leaders in this area. I was interested in other types of ideas, ones I had not been raised in. I stopped going to church and reading my Bible,” Pence writes in “Where You Go.”  “I believed I didn’t need [God] but as the year went on, I felt increasingly hopeless. I think I still believed in God, but I wanted to try living without the burden of religious ideas. I thought my questions would go away or be answered. I thought maybe I would no longer care and I would be able to live in an agnostic way. Maybe a part of me even wished I could, but atheism didn’t answer any questions I had.”

In the depths of her despair and struggles, Pence was able to rely on her parents for support. They hoped to see her firm in her own faith but showed her nothing but love and care during her spiritual struggles.

“They were definitely very understanding,” she said. “I know that they have always shown me just what an example of unconditional love really looks like. They were always willing and open to talk about any questions I had about their faith. They were definitely present in my life at that time. Ultimately, my faith had to just become my own and once it did, there was really no going back for me.”

Pence said that her return to faith was due in part to reading former atheist and Christian apologist Alistair McGrath. “[McGrath] is a theologian but also used to be an atheist so that was interesting to me,” she said.

The biggest shift, however, came after Pence met the rest of her family in Israel for Christmas break. “I believe it was my time spent in Israel where I truly became a Christian, where my faith was solidified for me,” Pence said. “I had always had faith, but it became my own there and I have never really turned back since coming into this realization.”

Pence’s final and complete embrace of her faith came during her flight back to England. “I was on a plane, listening to a religious song, and I began to cry,” Pence explained. “In that moment, I came home to my Savior, to my friend, I understood. I needed Him and He took me back with open arms. This incredible feeling of acceptance and renewal is one I cannot put into words, I cannot recreate, I cannot justify. It just is. It is a free gift, and one I cannot live without. And I have never been more sure of anything.”

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