During yesterday evening’s climate-change town hall, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled out one of his favorite rhetorical tricks: insisting that it’s immoral not to support his preferred progressive policies. Here’s part of what he had to say about this last night:
Let’s talk in language that is understood across the heartland about faith. If you believe that God is watching as poison is being belched into the air of creation, and people are being harmed by it, countries are at risk of vanishing in low-lying areas, what do you suppose God thinks of that? I bet he thinks it’s messed up. You don’t have to be religious to see the moral dimensions of this because frankly every religious and non-religious moral tradition tells us that we have some responsibility of stewardship, some responsibility for taking care of what’s around us, not to mention taking care of our neighbor. . . . At least one way of talking about this is that it’s a kind of sin.
This is far from the first time that the good mayor has tried to frame left-wing policy as the only acceptable course for a moral nation. In April, he told USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers that those on the Left “need to not be afraid to invoke arguments that are convincing on why Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction.”
In other words, if you’re a real Christian, you’d better be a progressive — and more specifically, you’d better get on board with Mayor Pete’s policy proposals. This common refrain also has led Buttigieg throughout the campaign to outright condemn Republicans as insufficiently Christian, and even as moral hypocrites.
“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, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again,” Buttigieg said in the June primary debate. In last month’s debate, he castigated “so-called conservative Christian senators” for failing to raise the minimum wage “when scripture says that whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.”
And he was at it yet again this morning, saying during an appearance on Morning Joe that Republicans will face “a reckoning” for supposedly promoting policies that don’t line up with Christian values:
For the party and the movement known for beating other people on the head with their faith or their interpretation of their faith, it makes no sense to literally vote to take food away from the hungry, to essentially be practicing the very thing that not just the Christian scriptural tradition but so many others tell us we’re not supposed to do in terms of harming other people. I do think there’s going to be a reckoning over that. There are a lot of people sitting in the pews hearing political conservatism all around them wondering whether that really matches what we’re being told to do and how we’re supposed to do it.
Not only is Buttigieg’s moral certitude off-putting and arrogant, but it’s also a weapon he chooses to wield inconsistently. When it comes to abortion, for instance — an issue on which Christian teaching is incredibly clear, and contradictory to his own position — he has repeatedly demurred on whether it’s ever appropriate for government to draw lines to protect unborn human life, calling it an “unknowable” moral question. Which is it, Mayor Pete?