Pete Buttigieg bringing religion into the 2020 Democratic race

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By: CBS News
April 9, 2019

Potential Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is gaining attention for his faith. In a speech Sunday, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said Vice President Mike Pence should raise his objections to homosexuality with God.

"I can tell you, that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade," he said. "And that's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world could understand, that if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."

Pence, a conservative Christian, has opposed same-sex marriage. Buttigieg is a devout Episcopalian.

Emma Green, who reports for The Atlantic, told CBSN that in the past, Democratic candidates have often been hesitant to discuss their faith. But the way Buttigieg talks about religion is "authentic."

"He quotes the Bible and talks about ideas from Jesus with ease and confidence. And this isn't always something that we see from the Democratic side. Even among the current field of Democratic hopefuls," Green said.

Other Democrats, like Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have spoken about religion at recent events. Green said Democrats have a real opportunity to try and connect with religious voters.

"The word hypocrisy comes up a lot in my reporting. People who feel as though the Republicans, President Trump, don't necessarily live out the religious ideals that they want to see. And I think Democrats see an opening, Pete Buttigeg included," Green said.

Conservative Christians largely supported President Trump in the 2016 election. But their reasoning varies widely. Some felt that Mr. Trump signaled he would stand up for their religious point of view with his policies and judicial appointments. Some didn't connect with Hillary Clinton.

For many, Green said abortion will remain a top priority heading into the 2020 race, which could be a challenge for Democrats like Buttigieg.

"Those voters would argue that this issue is the most crucial human rights issue. That defending the rights of the unborn is the most important thing that the government can do and so that's why they put this issue so high on their list of things they vote for," Green said.