On Tuesday night at the Democratic debate, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a belated epiphany: he finally realized that God is not necessarily a Democrat. Buttigieg has spent many debates lecturing the religious right about faith, suggesting that anyone who holds conservative political positions cannot possibly be a true Christian. But on Tuesday, he reversed all that — at least temporarily.
“If a guy like Donald Trump keeps trying to use religion to somehow recruit Christianity into the GOP, I will be standing there not afraid to talk about a different way to answer the call of faith and insist that God does not belong to a political party,” Mayor Pete said.
As a war veteran, Pete Buttigieg said he looks forward to standing next to Trump, who did not serve because of "bone spurs," and insisted that "God does not belong to a political party" #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/I6hqjWvjRb
— MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) January 15, 2020
“Mayor Pete” is correct: God does not belong to a political party. Politics is never a litmus test for faith, and it is heartening to hear Buttigieg say that — because it is a departure from his usual strategy.
In July, he said, “So-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage when scripture says, ‘Whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.'” Opposing a minimum wage increase does not make someone an “oppressor.”
In September, Buttigieg declared that refusing to fight climate change is “a kind of sin.”
Mayor Pete has decided to lecture conservative Christians for supporting Trump — admittedly a prideful and sinful person, but one who upholds their religious freedom and protects the lives of unborn babies. When it comes to abortion, Buttigieg has shamefully twisted scripture to suggest that “life begins with breath.”
In November, he said that salvation depends on being “useful,” a heretical rejection of God’s grace. It may not be surprising to hear such heresy from a man who takes pride in his homosexual identity and “marriage” to another man — despite the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexual activity — but Mayor Pete’s smug sermonizing on every issue under the sun gives the lie to his personable campaign style.
In December, he lied about the birth of Jesus in order to politicize it. He said Jesus came into the world “not as a citizen but as a refugee.” While Jesus did flee with his family to Egypt shortly after His birth, He was born in Bethlehem, his ancestral home. Buttigieg was echoing the liberal talking point that because Jesus was a refugee, America needs to welcome everyone who comes to the U.S., legally or not.
I hope Buttigieg’s remarks on Tuesday represent a true epiphany, and that he will no longer demonize and question the faith of conservative Christians. To be honest, however, I’m not sure I trust this recent change of heart. Buttigieg’s brother-in-law called him a “modern-day pharisee.”
“Buttigieg is a person who’s making up their own rules and regulations and, basically, if we don’t celebrate and endorse their interpretation of Scripture, our religion is fallible. And that’s just not true,” Michigan Pastor Rhyan Glezman, the older brother of Buttigieg’s husband Chasten, said last September.
Everyone can be redeemed, and it’s possible Mayor Pete has had an epiphany. But color me skeptical.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.