This week, Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough attacked Vice President Mike Pence, calling him Christian hypocrite, after Pence insisted that detained migrant children at the border should have access to toothpaste, soap, and blankets. Scarborough apparently did not believe him, and began attacking the vice president’s faith — urging Pence to read the Bible.
“Mike Pence who claims to be a Christian, a devout Christian, and uses it — and I’m sure he is, I’m not questioning his faith — but he uses it as a political badge of honor,” Scarborough said. “Mike should read the gospels again and see what Jesus says about the treatment of little children. He can start at Luke 17:2. Something about millstones being hung around people’s neck.”
In the passage Scarborough mentioned, Jesus warns His disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:1-4).
This passage comes right after Jesus’s parable about the rich man and Lazarus. In that parable, a rich man refuses to help a poor man named Lazarus, and after they die, the rich man in hell asks Lazarus to ease his suffering, but Lazarus cannot. The rich man wants Lazarus to warn his brothers about hell, but Abraham says that if his brothers do not listen to the Bible, they will not listen if a man rises from the dead.
This passage is powerful and a good one for Christians to remember, but it has little to do with Mike Pence.
Scarborough chided Pence after covering a bizarre story about a Justice Department lawyer arguing in court that the government is not required to give soap and toothbrushes to immigrant children in government facilities. The video of her arguments in court went viral, and she later told her friends on Facebook, “I think that many many people believe I was in court Tuesday arguing against providing certain hygiene items to kids. I do not believe that’s the position I was representing.”
She claimed the arguments had been taken out of context, and noted that she has worked at the DOJ for 11 years, long before President Trump took office.
Asked about the lawyer’s comments, Mike Pence agreed with CNN’s Jake Tapper that toothbrushes, blankets, and medicine are “basic conditions” for children.
“Aren’t toothbrushes and blankets and medicine basic conditions for kids? Aren’t they a part of how the United States of America, the Trump Administration, treats children?” Tapper asked. “Well, of course they are, Jake,” the vice president responded.
“I can’t speak to what that lawyer was saying. That’s one of the reasons we asked for more bed space,” Pence added.
“We have money to give toothpaste and soap and blankets to these kids in this facility in El Paso County, right now we do,” Tapper shot back.
“Of course we do,” Pence said.
“Well, why don’t we?” Tapper asked.
“It’s all a part of the appropriations process. Congress needs to provide additional support to deal with the crisis at our southern border,” Pence replied.
Scarborough seems to have taken offense at this response. Pence was suggesting that funding to meet the basic needs of kids in government facilities is Congress’s responsibility — and he is right about that. However, Democrats may view this with suspicion, since Trump declared a state of emergency at the border in order to redirect military funding to his wall project. A federal judge blocked this effort on Friday, however, showing how difficult it truly is for the administration to direct funding on its own.
Furthermore, the facilities are indeed cash-strapped by the burgeoning number of illegal immigrants crossing the border and bringing kids with them — in order to get some special treatment by playing into the Democrat narrative.
Yet Scarborough was clearly engaging in mere political posturing. He asked, “What does the administration think they gain by letting these children live like dogs?”
The real question is, how long will Congress take to act in order to provide necessary funding for the crisis at the border? This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed to support a clean funding bill, a concession that has divided House Democrats. The federal government will soon be able to meet the needs of these children, but it will also have to deal with the root cause — the burgeoning stream of immigrants pouring into the country.
On that issue, Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to find agreement.
In this context, Scarborough’s attack on Pence is entirely indefensible. While Pence should care for the poor children in these camps — Christian doctrine is clear that disciples should help the less fortunate — Pence is not the rich man to these kids’ Lazarus, and he’s also not tempting them to sin. Pence is right that Congress needs to provide more funds for the border, and Congress just passed the bill on Friday. Trump should sign it ASAP.
Democrats and liberals have engaged in ridiculous sermonizing on immigration, and Scarborough’s comments should be put in that context. Democrats have frequently echoed the fake news about Trump putting “kids in cages” — only Obama’s administration did that, and briefly. This week, former Vice President Joe Biden condemned Trump on immigration, spreading fake news and blaming Trump for policies actually carried out under Obama. During the Democratic debate on Thursday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg attacked Republicans as fake Christians, again citing the “kids in cages” lie.
Democrats and liberals seem to think this is a good look, but frankly, it’s both disgusting and insulting. Americans know the border crisis involves more than just the “evil” Trump administration, and immigration is a serious issue — not an excuse to demonize political opponents.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.