Vice President Mike Pence received a standing ovation as he gave the opening lecture on Saturday at Indiana’s Taylor University, despite scheduled demonstrations and a pupil and faculty walkout just before it was launched.

The IndyStar recorded that dozens of learners and faculty members silently went out as attendants sang the anthem, “Be Thou My Vision,” after protests urging the tiny non-denominational Christian college to dis-invite Pence failed.

IndyStar’s Alexandria Burris noted that a number of students wore stickers and customized mortarboards which were designed to send a specific message as well.

Once he took the stage, Pence delivered a message designed to encourage Christians to stand strong in a culture that is increasingly antagonistic to faith and to Christian principles.

In his remarks, Pence urged students and faculty to stand tall against increasing hostility against Christians. “Throughout most of our American history it’s been pretty easy to call yourself a Christian, but things are different now,” Pence said. “Lately, it’s become acceptable, even fashionable, to malign traditional Christian beliefs.”

The AP reported:

The protest was planned and discussed prior to Saturday’s ceremony. Some faculty and students at the nondenominational Christian liberal arts school debated the appropriateness of the former Indiana governor at the commencement ceremony.

Most of Taylor’s graduating class did not leave. Pence received a standing ovation.

For the lecture of the vice president, most of the 494-student graduating class stayed in the classroom, and the audience honored him with widespread applause and standing ovation.