Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Thursday defended earlier comments he’d made questioning Donald Trump’s belief in God, saying that the 45th president’s actions don’t strike him as consistent with someone who believes in the God of Christianity.
In remarks published Wednesday in USA Today, Buttigieg, who is an Episcopalian, called out the Religious Right, and evangelical Christians in particular, for purportedly ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ in favor of a conservative agenda that wants to cut aid to the poor, among other forms of “hypocrisy,” as he calls it.
And he spared no ire for Donald Trump, who claims to be a Christian and who has widespread support among religious conservatives.
“I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God… the exaltation of yourself, especially a self that’s about wealth and power, could not be more at odds with at least my understanding of the teachings of the Christian faith.”
On Thursday, as The Washington Post reports, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor stopped by ABC’s Good Morning America, where host George Stephanopoulos pressed him about the remarks.
— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) April 4, 2019
Specifically, Stephanopoulos asked Buttigieg if his criticism of Trump’s faith was consistent with his own claims that there needs to be “decency” in American politics, a claim Buttigieg made in his recently-released book, Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.
Buttigieg didn’t back down.
“I work very hard to make sure when we oppose this president we’re not emulating him, but we do need to call out hypocrisy when we see it.”
He went on to criticize Trump for “wrapping [himself] in the flag” while at the same time having allegedly faked a disability to get out of serving in Vietnam.
Once considered a long shot among the dozen or so Democratic candidates who have already announced their candidacy for president in 2020, Buttigieg has been developing a presence in the media, as well as successfully raising funds.
In his USA Today remarks, he promised to bring something to the table that has largely been absent from American politics for a century: leftist policies driven by Christian faith. Buttigieg is quick to point out that his party believes strongly in the separation of church and state, but he says that that “wall of separation” doesn’t mean that Jesus’ teachings about, for example, helping the poor, can’t inform his policy decisions.