President Donald Trump mocked Pete Buttigieg during an event for evangelical supporters in Florida on Friday, pointing out the former mayor’s newfound emphasis on religion after announcing his run for president.
“I see Alfred E. Newman comes out. He’s trying to pretend he is very religious,” Trump said, referring again to Buttigieg as the fictional character from Mad magazine while declaring his belief that God is on his side.
Trump also mocked the former South Bend mayor’s last name, noting that “nobody can pronounce his name, so they call him Mayor Pete.”
“Boot-edge-edge,” Trump continued. “And all of a sudden, he’s become extremely religious. This happened about two weeks ago.”
“I really do believe we have God on our side. I believe that … or there would have been no way we could have won, right?” he said.
Buttigieg responded hours later on Twitter, insisting that “God does not belong to a political party”:
God does not belong to a political party.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 4, 2020
Trump made his comments hours after Buttigieg criticized Americans for allowing gun violence in their society, even in churches.
“We are the only developed country where the idea of a shootout in a church is even conceivable,” he said. “What do you suppose God thinks of that?”
Buttigieg was baptized a Catholic but gravitated to the Episcopal church, and after he was elected mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he married his husband, Chasten, at the Cathedral of St. James Episcopal Church in South Bend.
He told CNN he was first “reluctant” to talk about religion, citing the Bible about Jesus telling his followers not to pray like the “hypocrites” standing in synagogues and street corners.
Since announcing his campaign for president, however, Buttigieg has made a point of talking about religion, urging Christians to abandon President Trump and the religious right supporting Republicans.
“Christianity to me is about humility. It’s about love,” he said in an interview in April. “If we want to put those values into political practice, at least by my lights, they lead us in a very progressive direction.”
Buttigieg began his campaign attacking Vice President Mike Pence as the “cheerleader of the porn star presidency” and suggested that he abandoned his Christian faith.
“Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don’t know,” he said in March.
Buttigieg also challenged Trump’s faith on the campaign trail.
“It’s hard to look at his actions and believe that they are the actions of somebody who believes in God,” he said in April, referring to the president.
Buttigieg also condemned Republicans for using religion as a “cudgel” against Democrats, stating that if God belonged to a political party, he “can’t imagine it would be the one that sent the current president into the White House.”
In July, Buttigieg scorned “so-called conservative Christian” Republicans in Congress for opposing a guaranteed national $15 minimum wage. He has also used Scripture to argue in favor of welcoming more illegal immigrants into the country.
Furthermore, Buttigieg cited Scripture in September to defend his belief in the unfettered right to an abortion, even immediately before childbirth.