During the second Democratic debate on Thursday, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg excoriated members of the Republican Party who claim the mantle of Christianity, but whose ideology and policies on border issues allegedly do not comport with such values:
The Republican Party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion. Now, our Party doesn’t talk about that as much, largely for a very good reason, which is [that] we are committed to the separation of church and state, and we stand for people of any religion and people of no religion. But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it, and for a Party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is okay to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.
Buttigieg, an Episcopalian, has built a portion of his campaign on attacking Republicans – specifically Christian Republicans – who he claims are not properly aligned with God.
In an April interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, he slammed Republican voters for their support of President Trump:
CHUCK TODD: You said something rather strong about the president, that you said, “It’s hard to look at his actions and believe that they are the actions of somebody who believes in God.” How do you square that assessment with the fact that the Evangelical Christian community is so devoted to his candidacy?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it’s something that really frustrates me because the hypocrisy is unbelievable. Here, you have somebody who not only acts in a way that is not consistent with anything that I hear in scripture or in church, where it’s about lifting up the least among us and taking care of strangers, which is another word for immigrants. And making sure that you’re focusing your effort on the poor. But also personally, how you’re supposed to conduct yourself. Not chest thumping look-at-me-ism, but humbling yourself before others. Foot washing is one of the central images in the New Testament. And we see the diametric opposite of that in this presidency. I think there was perhaps a cynical process where he decided to, for example, begin to pretend to be pro-life and govern accordingly. Which was good enough to bring many Evangelicals over to his side. But even on the version of Christianity that you hear from the religious right, which is about sexual ethics, I can’t believe that somebody who was caught writing hush money checks to adult film actresses is somebody they should be lifting up as the kind of person you want to be leading this nation.
The mayor of South Bend has also repeatedly criticized Vice President Mike Pence’s professed Christianity. During a speech in April, Buttigieg implied that Pence, and others who share the baseline Christian theology that homosexual behavior is sinful, are in conflict with God:
I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice it was a choice that was made far far above my pay-grade, and that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pence’s of the world would understand. If you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me, your quarrel, sir, is with my Creator.