Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, says he’s a Christian.
Now, as a Christian myself, I believe the status of Buttigieg’s soul is between him and God, no one else.
But I have absolutely no issue criticizing Buttigieg when he’s wrong.
And he’s wrong on the minimum wage — and the fact that he’s using the Bible to justify his misguided stance makes it even worse.
During the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Buttigieg cited Proverbs 14:31 to attack Christian senators for not supporting a federal government-mandated minimum wage hike.
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God,” that passage reads.
“The minimum wage is too low,” Buttigieg said, according to ABC News. “So-called conservative Christian senators right now in the Senate are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage, when scripture says whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.”
The South Bend mayor was likely referring to minimum wage legislation passed in the House earlier this month
“The measure would gradually hike the U.S. pay floor to $15 by 2025, then index further hikes to median wage growth,” as CNBC noted. “It would also phase out lower minimum wage paid to tipped workers.”
If the bill became the law, it would represent the first federal minimum wage hike since 2009, when the minimum hourly pay went up to $7.25.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said the upper chamber does not plan to take up the legislation.
Even if it did, the bill would face an uphill battle, considering Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, compared to the 47 senators who caucus with Democrats.
So why is Buttigieg wrong to cite scripture in calling for a minimum wage hike? Well for one thing, forcing businesses to artificially raise the minimum wage doesn’t actually help the poor.
As we’ve seen time and again, when businesses can’t afford minimum wage hikes, they are forced to lay off workers.
This means that far from helping them, government-mandated minimum wage hikes actually hurt the poor.
Second, while Jesus did command his followers to take care of the poor, he did not say that the government should force businesses to pay their workers more.
Christians should take care of the poor because they want to, with a joyful heart, not because the government is forcing them to do so.
Buttigieg says he’s a Christian. While I don’t know his heart, I know that twisting scripture to further one’s politically liberal point of view is wrong.
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