The mayor of South Bend, Ind., is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and is openly talking about two matters: That he's gay and that he thinks his Christian faith should be guiding his decisions about public policy.
As this Atlantic piece notes, Pete Buttigieg (pictured here) recently said this: “'We need to not be afraid to invoke arguments. . .on why Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction.' He also questioned Donald Trump’s religious sincerity. 'I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God.'”
Increasingly, the topic of faith is surfacing in the campaigns of the small army of Democrats seeking to replace Donald J. Trump as president.
But, as the Atlantic piece reports, ". . .no one has created as much buzz about faith as Buttigieg. 'As someone who comes from a religious background, is an Episcopalian and is gay, these aren’t just theoretical issues for him,' says Michael Wear, who worked on faith issues in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach during the former president’s 2012 reelection campaign. Buttigieg has 'actually had to work out in his own life how his views, how his life, enmeshes with his faith.'”
It may seem silly to be spending much time thinking about Buttigieg's campaign and how he's talking about faith, given his low rankings in the early polls. On the other hand, that's what people said about Jimmy Carter, who, you may recall, actually got elected president in 1976 while talking a lot about faith after having low rankings in the early polls.
In any case, in a nation that takes faith as seriously as America does, religion inevitably is going to play some role in the way the candidates for president run and in the way potential voters decide whom to support -- despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution says there can be no religious test for public office.
A key religious question for the 2020 race is whether people who identify themselves as evangelical Christians will wake up to the fact that the man they overwhelmingly supported in 2016, Trump, violates nearly all their core moral principles. So far I'm not betting on that happening if it hasn't yet -- and it mostly hasn't.
* * *
A MODEL FOR RE-EVANGELISM?
Statistics show that more than a third of religiously unaffiliated adult Americans are former Catholics. Now, this report says, young Catholics are working hard on college campuses to bring them back into the fold. If the approach has some success you can bet followers of other faith traditions will be paying attention and maybe even copying what they're doing.