Conservative evangelicals have responded after Democrat 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg used a verse from the Old Testament book of Proverbs during Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate to shame Christian Republicans who oppose a $15 minimum wage.
The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, continued his quest to appeal to left-leaning voters of faith during the event in Detroit, the third televised debate of the primary season.
In speaking out in his call to increase the federal minimum wage, the 37-year-old Buttigieg criticized “so-called conservative Christian senators” who oppose such an idea.
The criticism came when Buttigieg responded to a question about how he would help workers keep and retain jobs at a time in which auto manufacturing plants are ceasing operations in the industrial Midwest.
“Well, this happened in my community 20 years before I was born. And when I was growing up, we were still picking up the pieces,” he said. “Empty factories, empty houses, poverty. I know exactly what happens to a community when these closures take place. And there will be more.”
Buttigieg claimed that “we actually need to put the interests of workers first.” He argued that the issue is “much bigger than a trade fight.” In addition to saying gig workers should unionize, Buttigieg claimed that the minimum wage is “just too low.”
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour.
However, a number of states and municipalities have enacted measures to increase minimum wages to as high as $15 per hour within a few years time frame.
But in Buttigieg’s Indiana and rustbelt states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour. In other rustbelt states like Illinois or Michigan, the minimum wage is $8.25 per hour and $8.90 per hour, respectively.
“And so-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage, when scripture says that whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker,” Buttigieg said, followed by applause from the crowd.
Buttigieg, who is an openly gay Christian, appeared to have cited Proverbs 14:31. That verse states: “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.”
This is not the first time that Buttigieg has tried to shame conservative Christians. During a televised debate last month, Buttigieg suggested that there is a “hypocrisy” within the Republican Party because it likes to “cloak itself in the language of religion” while migrant families are being separated by federal agents at the U.S. southern border.
Buttigieg’s campaign even labeled Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indian governor, a “pharisee” but agreed to stop using the word “pharisee” because it offended Jews.
Conservative Christians didn’t take too kindly to Buttigieg’s remark during Tuesday’s debate.
“[It] never fails to baffle how progressives can appeal to the Bible to arrive at an exact minimum wage ($15, according to Buttigieg), yet ignore, reject, or plead ambiguity on the Bible’s teaching on marriage and abortion,” Andrew T. Walker, a senior fellow with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, tweeted Wednesday.
Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and author, tweeted that Buttigieg’s Christianity “seems to look more like himself than it looks like Christ.”
“Worshipping the ‘god’ he sees in the mirror rather than the God he sees in the Bible,” Piper argued.
Conservative evangelical commentator Erick Erickson also chimed in with criticism of Buttigieg’s remark.
“Trump has said he has never felt the need to repent. Buttigieg doesn’t feel the need to repent of his sexual sins,” Erickson wrote in a tweet. “Between them, only Trump possesses the humility to not lecture Christians about their faith given his unrepentant state.”
Erickson followed up with a short op-ed titled “Donald Trump Has More Humility Than Pete Buttigieg” published by his blog, The Resurgent.
“Pete Buttigieg is a practicing homosexual who willfully refuses to recognize Holy Scripture identifies that as a sin,” Erickson stated. “He will not repent either. Not only that, but Buttigieg is also okay twisting scripture to justify abortion.”
“There is a big difference, however, between these two unrepentant sinners. Donald Trump does not lecture Christians about their faith and Buttigieg has made it a central part of his campaign,” Erickson continued. “So yes, in that regard, President Trump has more humility than Buttigieg.”