Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate for president, was being interviewed by NBC when he started musing about the intersection of theology and politics and the importance of religious faith in his life.
“It’s important to me. I think it’s also important that we stop seeing religion used as a kind of cudgel as if God belonged to a political party. If he did, I can’t imagine it would be the one that sent the current president to the White House.”
Roughly translated, Mayor Pete was saying that God knows no political party, a very sensible thing to say. Then he went on to suggest that the Almighty is a Democrat.
The Mayor of South Bend was dancing around one of the interesting questions of the current, political age.
Why are so many evangelicals supporting a man for the presidency, Donald J. Trump, who has been an unabashed sinner.
The gentle reader knows what is being talked about, the Access Hollywood tape in which then candidate Trump made all those icky boasts.
The opposite of what Buttigieg suggested is that the Lord must belong to the political party that nominated Hillary Clinton for president and sent her husband to the White House twice.
If one supposes that God decides the outcome of elections and does not support sinners, then clearly what the mayor of South Bend said makes no sense.
In any case, Buttigieg seems to have forgotten the concept that exists in all the Abrahamic faiths called free will.
Free will means that God does not intervene to make people behave virtuously.
He provides guidelines about how to do so in scripture, but the decision is left up to us.
Then we must answer for what we do in the afterlife.
But why have evangelicals thrown their support to a man who lies as easily as he draws breath and had, in the past, pursued women with reckless abandon?
Several answers present themselves.
First, it should be remembered that the choice was not between Trump and a person of impeccable virtue, but between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Ms. Clinton is a proven rape enabler.
Besides covering up her husband’s various sexual assaults, what she did to 12-year-old rape victim Kathy Shelton would turn the stomach.
She is also arguably guilty of several felonies.
Second, religious folk who support Trump will note that the president has attended to the interests of people of faith and has paid them respect.
That is more that can be said of either Clinton or Barack Obama, who seemed disdainful of religious people.
Bill Clinton would often show up at the church door with a Bible under his arm after the latest scandal, but likely to offer a prayer of thanksgiving that he got away with it once again.
Third, if there is anything that religious Christians believe it is the power of redemption.
No evidence exists that Trump has ever played around once having announced for president. In any case, a man married to a lady like Melania would be crazy to stray.
To be sure, Trump still likes to tweet things that may not be true, but does he prevaricate more than other politicians or, strictly speaking, his enemies in the media?
God has a proper place in political discourse.
Praying in public, despite what atheist scolds say, is certainly appropriate in certain circumstances.
President Franklin Roosevelt offered a prayer on the radio on June 6, 1944, for the men then fighting and dying on the beaches of Normandy for the righteous cause of ending the Third Reich.
Yes, it can be honestly said that the All Mighty would never be on the side of Nazis or any with similar totalitarian beliefs.
Remember the concept of free will.
Aside from that, it is good policy for anyone, president of the United States or ordinary person, to not think that God is on his or her side but hope that he or she is on His side.
If one falls short, then at least one of the major religions holds with the power of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption.
All that is required to try as best one can and learn from mistakes.