Sometimes, it is embarrassing to be a Christian because of the bad reputation the religious right casts on the rest of us. Most of us are not hell-bent on condemning people for their sexuality or their reproductive rights. Instead, we love everyone, for God is love and we are all made in God’s image; we believe in the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.
With that said, I am glad to see Mayor Pete Buttigieg running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Some of you might know him as the 37-year-old wunderkind mayor of South Bend, Indiana. However, Mayor Pete, as he is affectionately known, is also openly gay and a devout Episcopalian.
This represents a conundrum for the religious right. What can they do with someone like Mayor Pete, who occupies one space that they condemn, and another space that they cannot claim illegitimate? After all, the Episcopal Church (of which I am a member) has given us 11 presidents (including Washington, FDR and Bush Sr.) and traces its roots back to Roman-ruled Britain. It has as much of a claim on divine authority as any other denomination does. Simultaneously, the Episcopal Church is a progressive church, allowing women and LGBT people to become priests and affirming the rights of everyone, regardless of who they are.
These things are anathema to the religious right, who have claimed to be the center of morality in America. However, any claim to morality flew out the window the moment they decided to back Donald Trump for president. Trump, a known adulterer, con-artist and liar, has become the religious right’s golden boy, appointing conservative judges who will do their dirty work. In return, they willingly look away from the President’s behavior and actions.
Mayor Pete, meanwhile, is not taking any of their guff. He has directly attacked both the President and Vice President during his CNN town hall.
“How could (Pence) allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?,” he said. “Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump?”
Mayor Pete has also made freedom an important topic to his campaign. He has accurately pointed out that freedom for the religious right has meant freedom from government, except reproductive freedom. However, Mayor Pete points out that while the government can oppress people, so can employers, banks and landlords, among others. Freedom is not just freedom from, but also the freedom to. It is about choice, and if someone, for example, cannot change jobs because they will lose their health insurance, then they are not free.
Will Mayor Pete clinch the Democratic nomination? I do not know. But Mayor Pete makes a compelling argument and I am glad he is running. It is about time we have a Democrat that is not afraid to go toe to toe against the hypocrisy and lies of the religious right.