Ever a challenger of assumptions, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has carved out a spot for himself as perhaps the most religious of the 2020 candidates. He has used his faith during the campaign to engage and challenge American Christians to support progressive policies. He has also called out those Christians whom he sees as embracing fundamentalist and extreme views of piety, sexual purity and reproductive rights, while turning a blind eye to other issues, such as immigration and unconditional love for humanity.

His most public statement on religion came of the latter variety last night when he called out Republicans who support President Donald Trump‘s immigration policies on one hand, while remaining vocal Christians on the other. “For a party that associates itself with Christianity, to say that … God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages,” Buttigieg said, “has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”

White evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and most continue to support him.

Buttigieg’s strategy of embracing those Christians who feel opposed to Trump’s policies on religious grounds is wise. It is no secret that the Democrats have an issue when it comes to religion. Usually, when religion comes up among Democratic candidates, it’s a criticism of church over-reaching into government and public life. Mayor Pete, however, sees that as the party’s strength. “Our party doesn’t talk about [religion] as much, largely for a very good reason, which was we are committed to the separation of church and state, and we stand for people of any religion and people with no religion,” he said recently.


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