Pete Buttigieg criticized Vice President Mike Pence and Christian politicians who support controversial Trump policies as hypocritical, but stopped short of calling them “sinful,” as Joe Biden did.
“I’ll be careful to use that word to kind of point out a speck in my brother’s eye,” the South Bend mayor told Religion News Service when asked whether politicians who supported family separation at the border were guilty of “sinful” actions. “What I would say is that it’s clear that some naked sins are being at best condoned by people who then summon religious arguments. That rings more and more hollow. It’s not just that we might have a different interpretation of faith, it’s that these arguments no longer stack up even on their own merits, right?”
“For example: Mike Pence’s view of Christian sexuality is obviously a little different than mine,” said Buttigieg. “But even with his view, it makes no sense to condone this president and his behavior. So there’s two layers to this. There’s the fact that I subscribe to a vision of faith that leads me to a certain place politically. But it’s also just seeing the hypocrisy among people who now endorse people and practices that are offensive, not only to my values, but to their own.”
Buttigieg’s charge of hypocrisy echoes comments he made at the first presidential debate, where he went after Republicans’ use of religious language and said the party “likes to cloak itself in their language of religion.”
“We should call out hypocrisy when we see it,” said Buttigieg. “For a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is OK 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 has criticized Pence’s beliefs in the past. In April, he said, “If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,” during an address at the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s annual brunch.
“That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. If you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator,” said Buttigieg.
The mayor has made rallying religious voters a centerpiece of his campaign, becoming the first candidate to hire a national faith outreach director. His appeal to religious voters has earned him support with mainline Protestants, among whom he outpaces Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Sen. Kamala Harris, despite trailing them in national Democratic primary polls.