There’s nothing like seeing #PeteForPresident trending in fourth place nationwide on Twitter to remind you Pete Buttigieg is still very much in this presidential race.
In the crowded field of Democratic contenders for the White House in 2020, Buttigieg is near the top, polling behind only Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. According to RealClearPolitics’ latest aggregate of polls, in the early primary state of Iowa, Buttigieg trails only Warren, holding 17.5 percent support — and for good reason.
Buttigieg’s resume glows with accolades and qualifications. He is a Harvard University graduate, a military veteran, and a Rhodes scholar, and each time he takes the stage, we are reminded he is a polished, articulate candidate who models presidential decorum. He embodies social progressivism and diversity, even being LGBT, and he speaks a farsighted message of unity and bipartisanship and faith. This multilingual, Midwest mayor of South Bend, Indiana, checks all the boxes, including religion.
And he is without a doubt the most dangerous candidate for Christianity and the gospel.
Pete Preaches a False Gospel of Affirmation
Faith-related comments have become routine for Mayor Pete. It seems each time Buttigieg has a microphone or an audience, he pontificates about the moral high ground he occupies — or at least all the reasons Republicans have lost their claim to it.
For example, during a GLAAD-sponsored LGBT presidential forum in Iowa, Buttigieg was asked how he would respond federally to state versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the host characterized as legislation “allowing individuals to claim broad exemptions from generally applicable laws … often weaponized to discriminate against LGBTQ people, religious minorities, single parents, and more.”
The thing that is so upsetting is that not only is it abusive toward LGBTQ Americans, but, in my view, it’s abusive toward the idea of faith. Faith is supposed to be about making people whole and making people better off, and when faith is used as an excuse to harm somebody, to me that is an insult to religion itself.
“Are rural and religious communities really going to get behind this idea?” the host asked. “Because, you know, I would want nothing more than to see the churches I grew up in really change.”
“I think it can happen when we ask people to be attuned to the importance of compassion and supporting each other,” Buttigieg said, affirming the notion that churches should fundamentally change core teachings to embrace LGBT activism. “It is amazing how many people can move past those old harms when you appeal to what is best in them … to bring out the best of what’s already somewhere inside of us.”
Never mind that the mayor completely contradicts the Christian doctrine of total human depravity — a foundational tenet of the gospel — to support his secular sexual ethic, but it is imperative to note that Buttigieg’s threat is not primarily due to being immoral versus moral. Comparing Buttigieg with an angry or scandalous politician — or even with the man occupying the White House — makes the mayor radiate what looks like goodness.
Associating Oneself with Christianity Changes Things
His real problem is that he calls good things evil and evil things good, justifying sin with isolated Bible verses and Machiavellian rhetoric. Donald Trump, for all his faults — and he has many, which Christians should never defend — doesn’t claim the name of Christ.
According to Pew Research, in the 2016 campaign, voters saw Trump as the “least religious” candidate. “Donald Trump is not widely viewed as a religious person, even by those in his own party,” Pew reported. Trump doesn’t appeal to scripture to absolve his shame. He simply doesn’t have shame. And while objectively, that isn’t a good thing, it also doesn’t in itself harm the cause of Christ because it doesn’t associate itself with Him.
Buttigieg, on the other hand, appeals to his “Christianity” endlessly, often weaving his distorted hermeneutic into policy conversations. That is where his danger lies.
The candidate has a Bible verse for everything, and that isn’t hyperbolic. He has preached a veritable sermon for every policy agenda of the 2020 Democratic platform: endorsing late-term abortion, raising the minimum wage, demonizing guns, elevating LGBT ideas, radically counteracting climate change, promoting illegal immigration, and, of course, condemning President Trump. None of these are Christian doctrines, though, and some are actually contrary to them.
Buttigieg Redefines Christianity
The mayor has justified each of his policy proposals as righteous on the authority of God’s Word, calling a failure to endorse his policies “sin” and even going so far as to say Republicans aren’t real Christians.
“So-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage, when Scripture says that whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker,” he said during the July Democratic debate, ignoring the ample evidence revealing that minimum wage laws hurt low-income workers most, and slandering Christians in the process.
During the same debate and later on Twitter, Buttigieg said of immigration and border security, “For a party that associates itself with Christianity to say 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. … The right doesn’t have a moral monopoly on religion.”
A moral monopoly belongs to nobody — except for God, who has a few things to say about divisive manipulators who serve their own interests and, through “good words and fair speeches[,] deceive the hearts of the simple.”
For a party that associates itself with Christianity to say 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. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/YfjQKOTm2J
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) June 28, 2019
Buttigieg Twists the Meaning of Sin
Ever curious is Buttigieg’s derivation of sin’s definition. Conferring virtue onto progressive policies through “moral monopoly” balderdash is clever, but to what does Mayor Pete anchor his interpretation of sin?
During CNN’s climate change town tall on Sept. 4, Buttigieg said:
Let’s talk in language that is understood across the heartland about faith. If you believe that God is watching as poison is being belched into the air of creation … what do you suppose God thinks of that? I bet he thinks it’s messed up. You don’t have to be religious to see the moral dimensions of this because frankly every religious and non-religious moral tradition tells us that we have some responsibility of stewardship, some responsibility for taking care of what’s around us, not to mention taking care of our neighbor. … At least one way of talking about this is that it’s a kind of sin.
To the intent observer, Buttigieg always shows his hand, and his trump card is calling sin whatever doesn’t fit his preferred policy goals. “My progressive values are connected to my interpretation of my faith” (emphasis mine), he said during an interview on “The View.” As evidenced above by his shaming of “so-called conservative Christians,” not only does Buttigieg claim those who oppose his policies are sinning, he says they can’t even call themselves Christians. That’s a bold claim.
So bold, in fact, the only one who could ever make this claim was Jesus — and he did. And Buttigieg directly contradicts his teachings.
Mayor Pete Repudiates Scripture’s Doctrines About Life
For instance, on a September episode of “The Breakfast Club” podcast, Buttigieg justified abortion up until the moment of birth, saying, “There’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath. And so even that is something that we can interpret differently.”
Buttigieg suggests we determine life when the baby draws its first breath.
A 2020 presidential candidate is suggesting babies can be killed up UNTIL a baby draws its first breath.
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) September 6, 2019
Buttigieg failed to mention the many verses that imply or directly state life begins long before a human draws his or her first breath. In the Old Testament law, God explicitly forbade killing a child for the sins of his father, establishing a principle that would rule out even abortion exceptions for rape and incest. He even says the standard of punishment for a man hitting a pregnant woman that results in the loss of her child is “life for a life,” equating the value of a full-grown man and an unborn child. Biblically, it’s clear life begins before breath: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
But Buttigieg makes the entire point moot just a moment later, revealing his purposes are not about scripture, but about policy goals, saying, “The most important thing is the person who should be drawing the line is the woman making the decision.” Ah, there it is.
Buttigieg Disregards Biblical Teaching on Sexuality
Or consider the issue of gay marriage. Christians and many conservatives oppose gay marriage and have misgivings about Buttigieg’s same-sex union to his partner Chasten, but the real problem emerges when Buttigieg credits his lifestyle directly to his “creator” and tramples the faith of Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence in the process.
In a March 11 CNN town hall, Buttigieg slammed Pence for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which then-Gov. Pence signed into law after it passed the state Senate 40-10, before reversing the law later under gay activist pressure — referring to the RFRA as “a license to discriminate, provided you remembered to mention your religion as an excuse for discriminating.” Again, dismissing traditional Christian teaching as nothing more than an excuse.
But Buttigieg has dragged Pence into the ring over LGBT issues a number of times. “If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,” Buttigieg said at an LGBTQ Victory Fund event, and a handful of other times. “And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand, that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
He later implied on Twitter the second lady was a Pharisee for working at Christian school with a traditional view of marriage, invoking biblical principles about religious legalists at the expense of all Christ’s teaching on marriage, especially the second half of Romans 1 (because despite large swaths of nominal Christians who dismiss a traditional sexual ethic as Old Testament teaching that no longer applies, we actually derive our doctrine on sex as much from the New Testament).
I am a product of Christian education. At no point in that (excellent) education was I taught that gay employees should be fired or gay students expelled. But we did learn a lot about Pharisees… https://t.co/CuaI3qNYas
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 18, 2019
Mayor Pete Doesn’t Get the Gospel
To his error, Buttigieg fundamentally misunderstands the nature of God, the Bible, and humankind. “What I get in the gospel when I’m in church,” he says, is “protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person and that idea of welcome.”
For all his religious soundbites, Buttigieg showed us the full scope of his belief about Christianity on an episode of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and to hear him articulate it in full is quite sad. Joe Scarborough asked Mayor Pete if he subscribes to the same religious teaching as President Barack Obama, saying, “Obama] said, ‘I have come to know Jesus Christ personally as my Lord and personal Savior.'”
Yes, but maybe that means different things to different people, because a lot of people feel that they had a kind of ‘Road to Damascus’ personal encounter with God. For me, just personally, I came to the faith more through an appreciation of mystery and a personal humility.
“But is it a feel-good thing though for you?” Scarborough asked. “Or is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?” “So, again, that means different things for different people,” Buttigieg responded, before digressing into hackneyed commentary on God’s love.
Unsatisfied, Scarborough doubled down. “What I’m asking you is, do you believe the orthodox view: Jesus, Son of God, died for your sins, was buried, the third day was resurrected, and will come — will sit at the right hand of the Father, and that your salvation depends on your faith in Jesus Christ?”
Buttigieg flew through a “Yes,” before saying, “and what we do, what I do.”
Mayor Pete Doesn’t Understand Conservatives
Unfortunately, Buttigieg upholds his self-made religion as if it were biblical Christianity and then uses it as a litmus test to condemn true Christ-following conservatives. First, he doesn’t understand that the policies the religious right promotes (however imperfectly) are in keeping with Christian values. Minimum wage laws hurt the poor. Charity is charity, but the government’s “charity” (a.k.a. redistribution) is stealing. Abortion kills babies physically and mothers psychologically.
Second, he doesn’t understand that Christians don’t elect presidents to be their eternal savior. We already have one of those. As for Buttigieg, he has turned government into a god, a tyrannical deity that offers no forgiveness. His policies are an idol, and he bows at the feet of the bureaucracy, disguising his elitist pride as looking out for the “least of these.” His leftist utopia is a religion, and its commandments are etched in rhetoric: “You cannot call yourself a Christian if you don’t support my climate change policy.”
Buttigieg may not know it, but the center of the sacred text he so often quotes is not government. It’s Jesus Christ. And nowhere in scripture does holy God deem prestigious people the moral authority to morph his words into hellish policy. To say so is blasphemy. I would sooner see an outright atheist commander in chief than a wolf in sheep’s clothing who disdains true Christianity but claims it as his own, leading others astray all the way.
So forgive me if I don’t tweet #PeteForPresident.