Pete Buttigieg’s Faith: What’s All the Fuss About?


Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s excellent Washington Post piece on Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg‘s progressive Christianity is getting a lot of attention.  I think its cool that Guttigieg studied early American religious history in college. But his progressive approach to religion and politics is nothing new.  Here is a taste of Bailey’s piece:

Now Buttigieg wants a “less dogmatic” religious left to counter the religious right, an unofficial coalition of religious conservatives that for decades has helped get mostly Republicans into office.

“I think it’s unfortunate [the Democratic Party] has lost touch with a religious tradition that I think can help explain and relate our values,” he said. “At least in my interpretation, it helps to root [in religion] a lot of what it is we do believe in, when it comes to protecting the sick and the stranger and the poor, as well as skepticism of the wealthy and the powerful and the established.”

He thinks President Trump has found favor among many white evangelicals and white Catholics because of his opposition to abortion, he said. But Buttigieg said he believes the president is behaving “in bad faith” and said there’s no evidence that he doesn’t favor abortion rights deep down.

“I do think it’s strange, though, knowing that no matter where you are politically, the gospel is so much about inclusion and decency and humility and care for the least among us, that a wealthy, powerful, chest-thumping, self-oriented, philandering figure like this can have any credibility at all among religious people,” he said.

Read the entire piece here.

I am not sure there is anything new here beyond the fact that Buttigieg is gay.  He seems to be following some pretty well-established progressive/liberal/Democratic Christian political candidates, including George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, Joe Lieberman (if you move beyond Christianity), Hillary Clinton and, of course, Barack Obama.  I might even put my former Senator Bill Bradley in this group.

Perhaps it is time that we stop getting so excited about Democratic candidates who can talk about religion.  They have been around for a long time.

21 thoughts on “Pete Buttigieg’s Faith: What’s All the Fuss About?

  1. Hello again, John:

    Thanks for engaging me.

    I have been very careful to never personally malign anyone who posts on this site. I have also never questioned anyone’s moral character. There have been no explicit or implicit slights toward any of my personal interlocutors. The word “deviant” was not used to refer to anyone who posts here. It was used as a generalized description of aberrant sexual behavior by certain people in our society——not on this discussion site. Additionally, I did not state that any of my fellow posters were personally unchristian. One of my “screen fellows” attempted unsuccessfully to bait me to do that very thing, however.

    I suppose I am drawing a mental question mark at your statement regarding presuppositions. We all have them. They are essential to functioning in life. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t presuppose certain religious and political facts.

    John, this is your site and you rightly control the tenor of the discussion. In the past I have made what I thought were valid, collegial, pertinent comments which were not publically posted. While I could not understand your reasons for not posting my remarks, I accept that. You know what you are seeking and it’s not my place to question it. Yet I think it is inaccurate to state that I have been uncivil with anyone who posts here.


  2. John,
    Well, I can be more specific with you if you ask me to do so. I did tell Paul in my final sentence that I would be happy to elaborate on any of my points.
    TEC has allowed open, unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to be ordained. This is in contravention of scripture and Christian tradition. TEC has allowed homosexual “wedding” ceremonies to be conducted within their churches. This also is contrary to Christian teaching. Homosexuality is a deviation from the Christian norm as well as the societal and natural norm.

    As far as the seminaries there are no theological requirements or statements of historic doctrinal fidelity required of faculty or students. The content of the courses does not have to be in conformity to any remotely orthodox standard. I simply used the word “modernist” to describe the religious hodgepodge students encounter struggle these institutions. The specific theological failings are discussed in J. Gresham Machen’s classic work, Christianity and Liberalism. TEC seminaries are prime examples of Liberalism.

    I don’t know how specific you want me to get on this subject, John. Shall I obtain sylabii from the seminary courses and start picking them apart? I would be happy to do that if you allowed it on your site, but I am not sure you want to have that emphasis. It is much easier to simply point to the statements of their leaders starting with Bishop Pike. I will be happy to do that if you ask me.


    • James: You are completely missing my point. You operate as if your views are correct, and maybe they are (or maybe they are not), but this is a public forum. There are no presuppositions here. I am not saying that you cannot enter discussion with convictions, but you can’t assume that the people in this forum share them. In the last couple of posts who have called people who disagree with your “deviant,” said people who are Democrats cannot be good Christians, and have assumed that everyone sees the world the way you do. You will convince no one this way because not everyone who reads this blog operates from the same presuppositions that you do.


      • john, I am dropping off reading comments. nothing really to learn form them, its as bad as reading the comments on facebook lol

        but I love your columns and have bought your book.


  3. James: I know you have your views, but you need to learn how to engage with others in civil dialogue that respects their views. Not everyone who reads or comments on this blog shares your religious or theological presuppositions. I allow all kinds of views on this blog, but if you want to argue with someone who does not share your theology or views on homosexuality you will need to do better than simply referencing “modernist theology” and “sexual deviants.”


  4. Paul,
    That’s a pretty broad brush you have used to paint the relationship between Christians and the Bible. You gave a set of generalized opinions about what the Bible teaches, Paul. The fact of the matter is that it teaches a whole lot of things to a wide variety of people over a period of an estimated 1,700 years. In order for you to substantiate your statements about the central themes of the Book and it’s application to us in 2019, I would ask you to cite verses within their contexts and to exegete them. Generalizations can support nothing.

    I doubt that Dr. Fea wants to turn his site into a dueling scriptures location, but if you think you can briefly support your views about the themes of the Bible, I would be happy 😃 to engage your positions. It is a book which has altered my life and while I am not the world’s expert, I know it fairly well.



    • So you say things like “the less demanding Episcopal church” and make judgements about the spirituality of an individual you don’t know and yet you say I’m generalizing?

      Do you have even an ounce of self awareness?

      That’s a rhetorical question. No need to answer.


      • Hello Paul,
        I can document my statement about The Episcopal Church. All I asked of you is that you do the same with your Bible generalizations.



      • Paul,
        I think you will find that even the leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) would confess go being far more lax doctrinally than other denominations.



          • Thanks for asking, Paul.
            They have abandoned the 39 Articles which had guided Anglican thought since the Reformation. Their ordination process screens out orthodox candidates. Their seminaries are hotbeds of modernist theology. They ordain avowed sexual deviants.
            None of this is new. It first became public in the 1950s and early 60s with Bishop James Pike. He was challenged for his heresy but ultimately allowed to remain. In the last 20 years they have countenanced Bishop J.S. Spong, Gene Robinson, and Jeffords Schori among others. Please let me know if you want me to expand on any of these ideas, Paul.


            • James: I know you have your views, but you need to learn how to engage with others in civil dialogue that respects their views. Not everyone who reads or comments on this blog shares your religious or theological presuppositions. I allow all kinds of views on this blog, but if you want to argue with someone who does not share your theology or views on homosexuality you will need to do better than simply referencing “modernist theology” and “sexual deviants.”


  5. Thanks. I now understand the point your basic statement.

    With that being said, I was left “scratching my head” in puzzlement about two or three of the names on your list of previous DEM candidates who were, in your estimation, “religiously-sensitive.” Childhood or family-based experience at a church of some description don’t necessarily equate to a deep understanding of the strong impulses wrought by traditional Christian belief. As Christ said within another context, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”


  6. John,
    I share your healthy skepticism of the mayor’s professed religion.

    This man was reared in the Roman Catholic Church but has had recent connections to the less demanding Episcopal church which can be practiced as Unitarian Universalism with a formal liturgy. Growing up in South Bend with parents connected to Notre Dame University, he learned the language of Christianity and is clever enough to insert it into the religious vacuum within Democrat politics. It’ s a win-win strategy for him. He can appeal to certain people of faith without being accused of being too zealous about Christianity due to his sexual proclivities.


      • Yes, John, but as you can see the skepticism that is much more difficult to overcome is the widely held notion among evangelicals that a person cannot be a Democrat and a true Christian at the same time. It is easier to view DJT as a “baby Christian than it is to view a Democrat who is outwardly moral person who is a regular church goer as one of us.


        • RSchooler,

          Any Christian who views Donald Trump as a “baby Christian” is probably being naive or engaging in wishful thinking. At the same time, any Democrat politician who subscribes to the 2016 party platform, while professing to be a Christian, has a seared conscience or is an imposter.



          • Why is it that people who claim to represent the Bible act in almost an exact opposite of what the Bible teaches?

            That’s what kills me about this. The Bible is literally filled with teaching about economic justice and woe on the wealthy who oppress the poor, and the only teaching about abortion is that it is prescribed as a punishment for women who are suspected of cheating on their husbands, yet so much of modern political and religious thought ignores the actual Bible in favor of a made-up version of it.

            People like James talk about the Bible as if they own it, and yet the fundamentalists or evangelicals or whatever they want to be called ignore the actual Bible.


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