By David Closson
Last night, seven Democratic presidential candidates gathered in South Carolina for a debate ahead of that state's primary on February 29. Much of today's post-debate coverage has focused on the overall contentiousness of the debate and the repeated attacks leveled at the frontrunner, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Very little attention has been paid to several comments that underscore the conflicting and confused worldviews of some of the major candidates.
First, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) went on the offensive against former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as was her strategy in the previous debate, criticizing him for some of his past decisions. At one point, Warren referenced an allegation that has dogged Bloomberg since his entry into the presidential race: that he once told one of his pregnant employees to abort her baby. Warren said, "At least I didn't have a boss who said to me, 'Kill it,' the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said." Bloomberg emphatically denied the allegation, saying, "I never said it, period, end of story. Categorically never said it."
According to the New York Times, that allegation was part of a 1997 lawsuit that was eventually settled with no admission of guilt. However, a former Bloomberg employee, David Zielenziger, claims to have overheard the conversation. Bloomberg has repeatedly denied making the statement.
While it is difficult to prove whether Bloomberg told his former employee to "kill" her unborn child, it is remarkable that Warren brought up the controversy. Evidently, Warren believes Americans will be outraged by the allegation, and she hopes the mayor will suffer politically as more people hear about the story. However, the exchange between the candidates highlights the glaring hypocrisy of Warren, whose Democrat colleagues in the Senate voted earlier in the day to block the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act, legislation that would require health care practitioners to exercise the same degree of care to an infant who survives an abortion as they would for any other baby born at the same gestational age. Although Warren was not present to vote on the bill yesterday, she voted against it last year.
Warren's moral impulse is correct when she thinks that Americans will be disgusted when they hear about morally repugnant comments made by one of her competitors. But to feign concern for children, when the senator herself has consistently voted against providing basic protections for newborn and unborn babies, is the height of moral hypocrisy. As recently as 2018, Warren voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks, when science indicates unborn babies are capable of feeling pain.
Second, it was fascinating to hear two candidates, Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, quote Scripture when the moderators asked what motivates their work in politics. Warren quoted Matthew 25:40, saying, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these, the least of thy brethren, ye have done it unto me." She then explained, "For me this is about how we treat other people and how we lift them up. That is why I am in this fight."
Buttigieg said that he was guided by mottoes, "many of which come from Scripture." He then alluded to Matthew 20:26 and 7:12, saying, "I seek to live by the teachings that say if you would be a leader, you must first be a servant. And, of course, the teaching, not unique to the Christian tradition, but a big part of it, that holds that we are to treat others as we would be treated."
It is usually refreshing to hear candidates quote Scripture on the campaign trail. Most Americans are encouraged when politicians discuss the principles that guide and inform their worldview. However, it rings hollow when Senator Warren quotes a passage that underscores the biblical imperative to care for the most vulnerable in society when she has publicly opposed every meaningful piece of legislation that would protect the rights of the unborn and abortion survivors. And in Mayor Pete's case, it is difficult to square his professed love for Scripture when he continues to twist and distort the Bible's clear teaching on life to advance an agenda that is antithetical to the teachings of Scripture.
Americans want authenticity in their elected representatives. Unfortunately, the conflicting and confused worldviews of some of the major candidates do not inspire a great deal of confidence. It is difficult to interpret last night's use of Scripture outside the lens of partisan politics and a desire to pander to South Carolina's religious voters. But the Bible isn't a political prop; the Bible is God's Word, and on issues related to the sanctity of human life, marriage, and human sexuality, it presents a very different view than the ones held by every candidate on last night's debate stage.