As Iowa Caucus Nears, Presidential Candidates Ramp Up on Religious Language

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a rally at West Delaware High School, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Manchester, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential hopefuls ramped up the God-talk while criss-crossing Iowa over the weekend, invoking the Bible and meeting with religious leaders while their Republican opponent President Trump worked to bolster support among evangelical Christians.

The faith-fueled weekend kicked off with remarks from Trump in a Florida church on Friday evening, where he launched a new “Evangelicals for Trump” campaign initiative to assist his re-election bid. Speaking to a group of evangelicals, the president took a shot at his Democratic opponents, accusing them of being anti-religious.

“As we speak, every Democrat candidate is trying to punish religious believers, and silence our churches and our pastors,” Trump said. “Our opponents want to shut out God from the public square so they can impose their extreme anti-religious and socialist agenda on America.”

Trump singled out South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, mocking the Democrat’s faith.

“All of a sudden he has become extremely religious,” Trump told the crowd, referring to Buttigieg. “This happened about two weeks ago.”

Faith leaders pray with President Donald Trump during a rally for evangelical supporters at the King Jesus International Ministry Church, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

But Buttigieg, an Episcopalian who has spoken of his faith often during his campaign, fired back — first on Friday evening by tweeting “God does not belong to a political party” and then by directly addressing the president’s remarks on Saturday.

“I’m not sure why the president’s taken an interest in my faith journey, but I certainly would be happy to discuss it with him — I just don’t know where that’s coming from,” Buttigieg told reporters. “Certainly, it has been a complex journey for me, as it is for a lot of people, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been a believer longer than he’s been a Republican.”

It turned out to be the beginning of a spiritually infused few days for a slate of presidential candidates who have shown an unusual affinity for religious rhetoric, with some even tying their faith to their policy proposals.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren got biblical while discussing economics and usury laws, arguing that banks in the 1980s chipped away at ancient economic systems designed to protect average people from exploitation.

“Bankruptcy is provided (for) in the Bible: Every seven years debts are forgiven — and the notion of a ‘jubilee,’” she said, noting usury laws are also in the Quran.

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Source: Religion News Service