"Pete Buttigieg" by Pete Buttigieg's Campaign Site / CC BY 3.0

Pete Buttigieg, please don’t equate religion with morality

May 2, 2019

By Kate Cohen

“I’m not necessarily going to vote for him,” I told my husband a week ago when he found me furtively watching yet another interview with presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. “I just like listening to him.” It was like any YouTube obsession: One video naturally led to the next. I kept clicking, and Buttigieg kept calmly answering questions exactly the way I would if I were a more hopeful, smarter person, which suddenly I wanted to be.

There was just one thing that bothered me: the religion.

I’m an atheist. I have bemoaned the fact that my country’s motto is “In God We Trust,” that elected officials are sworn in on holy books, legislative sessions begin in prayer, and big political speeches seem predestined to end with the phrase “God Bless America.” I think religion and government should be kept far apart. But if I ruled out all the self-proclaimed Christians in the race, I would lose a lot of great candidates. Cory Booker told a CNN town hall that “Christ is the center of my life”; Kamala D. Harris announced her candidacy “with faith in God”; Elizabeth Warren taught Sunday school and quotes the Gospel of Matthew.

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