Writing for the New York magazine, Ed Kilgore has a message for the Christian Right: You don’t have a monopoly on the faith.
To demonstrate his point, Kilgore talks about 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a rising star among the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential candidates. Buttigieg has been outspoken about his religious values even though he’s a proud progressive in a same-sex marriage.
Just look at what he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week:
“I do think it’s important for candidates to at least have the option to talk about our faith,” he said. He specifically targeted the idea that “the only way a religious person could enter politics is through the prism of the religious right.”
The Washington Post‘s E.J. Dionne continues:
An Episcopalian and a married gay man, Buttigieg pointed to the core Christian concept that “the first shall be last; the last shall be first.”
He added: “What could be more different than what we’re being shown in Washington right now — often with some people who view themselves as religious on the right, cheering it on?… Here we have this totally warped idea of what Christianity should be like when it comes into the public sphere, and it’s mostly about exclusion. Which is the last thing that I imbibe when I take in scripture in church.”
Kilgore says that Buttigieg’s discussion of faith would force some conservatives to rethink their allegiances:
Pete Buttigieg offers a particularly interesting contrast with the 45th president. Would anyone be confident in accusing this married, churchgoing, Afghanistan veteran of being ethically inferior to Donald Trump? Not without risking hellfire.
Personally, a gay Christian who has only been married once — and is still married! — seems much more “traditional” and sincere than a thrice-married, philandering president that white evangelicals treat like the savior of America.
When asked about their continued support for someone who seems to proudly flout their values, they are so quick to retort, “We elected a president, not a pastor!” If that’s true, though, then that should make it even easier for them to support Buttigieg for president. They would essentially be getting both — someone who has the ability to lead and feels comfortable talking about religion. It’s doubtful they’ll do that because of his other liberal values, but that’s also a reminder that what white evangelicals care about most has little to do with Jesus.