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Buttigieg’s Appropriation of God is Not Ok

In a crowded field of competitors I get what he’s doing.  And politically I don’t blame him.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a longshot candidate who lacks the pedigree, chops, and experience for the office he seeks.  But that doesn’t always matter in presidential primaries.  Often times outsider candidates who find a niche, tap into a core group of committed supporters who are willing to ride with them through thick and thin, can take advantage of the splintering nature of crowded race demographics and pull the upset.

Apparently for Buttigieg’s team, they’ve decided going after the disaffected religious left is his best strategy.  Not since James Garfield, the only minister ever elected president, has a candidate appealed so frequently to Christianity in making his campaign speeches.  Except with Buttigieg, it’s forced, contrived, and quite clearly a ham-fisted electoral strategy that is focused on votes rather than holiness.

The Mayor told an audience several months ago that he knew God wouldn’t be a Republican.  Clearly that wasn’t some kind of theological revelation to suggest that the Almighty wasn’t going to be registering in any primary election states any time soon.  So what was it?  An applause line?  A political attack on the faith of Republicans?

Just days later, Buttigieg was back at it again, suggesting that:

“[A Republican] 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.”

I dealt with Buttigieg’s rank hypocrisy of pretending to have the compassion of God for “children in cages” while simultaneously supporting the dismemberment of “children in wombs” here, but the Mayor was just getting warmed up.

In the next Democrat debate, Buttigieg attempted to differentiate his support of the federal minimum wage by appealing to…you guessed it…God.  Manipulating the text of Proverbs to support his own policy preference, Mayor Pete intimated that those who disagree with his desire to harm the country’s job creators through centralized regulation are “taunting” the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  Good grief.

To a discerning mind focused on Biblical authority rather than political expediency, this stuff doesn’t get off the runway.  But in his targeted demographic of religious left activists, it’s manna from heaven.  For instance, author and activist leader of the increasingly irrelevant “Emergent Church” Brian McLaren retweeted this doozy:

This kind of nonsense needs to be repudiated by the church forcefully and without prejudice.  This is the very kind of superficial piety that the left has justifiably criticized conservative Christians for participating in for years.   Promoting policy that is consistent with Godly morality, while admirable, certainly does not qualify a candidate as “God-fearing.”  If that seems difficult for the Brian McLarens and David Darks of the world to grasp, consider that just because President Trump signs legislation to save the lives of unborn babies or secures the release of a tortured Christian pastor in Iran, that doesn’t mean he is God-fearing.

Words have meaning; and for believers, the designation of one who “fears God” must be cautiously guarded since it affects our testimony of Christian obligation to the world.  The cause of Christ is more important than political posturing or the pursuit of power.

That means Christians will be wary of tagging one like Trump, whose lifestyle flagrantly taunts Biblical ethics of compassion, kindness, and gentleness, as a “God-fearing” man.  It also means that Christians will be equally wary of tagging one like Buttigieg, whose lifestyle flagrantly taunts Biblical ethics of sexual morality and repentance, as a “God-fearing” man.

This isn’t about who you vote for.  It’s about respecting the name of God.

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