Which Party Is Truly Faith Driven?
The Republicans have postured as the party of so-called “family values” and Christian faith since they formed up their alliance with the Christian right in 1980. At the same time, Republicans have constantly bullied Democrats and questioned their religious beliefs. For example, the GOP contended that President Obama was a “phony Christian” and even falsely alleged that he was a Muslim. (What’s wrong with being a Muslim? Even George W. Bush said Islam was a “religion of peace.”)
While the GOP has claimed to have some kind of monopoly on religious virtue, they have been exposed as contemptible hypocrites by some of their most prominent leaders and champions. The hypocrisy of the GOP’s support for so-called “family values” was initially exposed during the Clinton presidency. Several of the leading critics of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky were carrying on affairs of their own during the entire impeachment drama in 1998–99. For example, then House Speaker Newt Gingrich was conducting an affair with a Congressional staffer twenty three years his junior. (Calista Gingrich is now Newt’s third wife and the ambassador to the Vatican.)
This hypocrisy has reached its zenith during the Trump era. At the present time, there is a cult of personality regarding Trump among all conservatives and especially among so-called Christian conservatives. The former TV reality star is probably the least pious president in American history and his own personal history reflects anything but “family values.” Trump has had five children with three different women. The orange hued mogul has had numerous affairs and has even paid hush money to a porn star and a Playboy model.
While some of the GOP’s most revered leaders have behaved badly, the GOP has used its so-called religious beliefs to demonize the LGBTQIA community, Muslims and women. Some of these so-called Christian conservatives believe that you have the right to practice their religion. That’s not what this country was founded on. The Founding Fathers believed in the separation of church and state based upon the history of religious oppression by established churches in Europe.
I find it refreshing that some prominent Democrats have decided to stand up to this bullying by the radical right and have made the (justifiable) claim that progressive beliefs are based upon Christian principles. In a recent interview, South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg fired back at Vice President Mike Pence: “How would he (Pence) allow himself to become the cheerleader for the porn star presidency?” said Buttigieg. “I don’t have a problem with religion,” Buttigieg said. “I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people and especially in the LGBTQ community. So many people, even today, feel like they don’t belong. You can get fired in so many parts of this country just for who you are, and that’s got to change. I’m not interested in feuding with the vice president, but if he wanted to clear this up he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are. That’s all.”
In a similar vein, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently made some comments on the disconnect between GOP economic policies and the teachings of Christ. “I don’t think the Republican Party is a faith-driven party. I really don’t,” Gillibrand said in an interview with NPR. “I think when they don’t feed the poor and don’t vote for food stamps, when they don’t care about families struggling and living in poverty, when they continue to invest in for-profit prisons, they aren’t doing what the Gospel tells them to do: feed the poor, help the sick.”
I salute Pete Buttigieg and Kirsten Gillibrand for calling out the pharisees of the radical right. I’m sick and tired of the preening and phony self righteousness coming from some Republicans. It’s well past time for we Democrats and progressives to make the (justifiable) claim that we are ones who are faith driven. This follows a rich historical tradition. In the past, progressives like William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt openly proclaimed that their progressive philosophy of helping our fellow man was grounded upon Christian principles.
At the same time, we Democrats are the party of religious diversity and tolerance. We welcome people of all faiths into our ranks. Moreover, we welcome and respect those who choose not to believe. The Democratic Party is welcoming converts and the GOP is purging heretics. The Democratic Party is truly the big tent party. Nonetheless, we need to fight back hard against misleading attacks from the radical right. Never let a phony attack go unchallenged.
We have a big election year in 2020. We must win to preserve democracy and freedom in this country. The current GOP is simply extreme and grossly incompetent. Moreover, the GOP is developing authoritarian tendencies. So let’s leave it out on the field in 2020! United we are strong! United we will win!