trump hands

In a move which once again encourages us as to his credentials, the most fearless Pope in living memory has questioned US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Christianity over his oft-repeated call to build a border wall with Mexico.

With admirable bluntness, Pope Francis said “a person who thinks only about building walls and not of building bridges, is not Christian”.

The New York businessman also supports deporting nearly 11 million un-documented immigrants.

But calling himself a “proud Christian”, Mr Trump blamed Mexico for the Pope’s remarks, calling them “disgraceful”. Mr Trump has previously alleged that Mexico sends “rapists” and criminals to the US.

Pope Francis made the comments at the end of a six-day trip to Mexico.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel,” he said.

He declined to say whether Americans should vote for Mr Trump, who is leading the Republican race for president.

“I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and I will give him the benefit of the doubt,” the Pope said.

Over here at the Wellthisiswhatithink religious affairs desk, we think Trump is a solidly evil individual with hateful views that are (take your pick), mindlessly triumphalist, quasi-fascist, racist, anti-female, and typically moronic in their presentation and content. We don’t actually think he’s the Anti-Christ, but then again anything’s possible. Popularity is one of the signs of the Anti-Christ, after all. And as it now looks like it wasn’t President Obama, well … (Hang on a sec while we adjust our tinfoil hat.) 

Frankly, we think Il Papa let the New Yorker off easy. We miss the good old days when Popes excommunicated leaders.

pope-francisAnyhow, addressing a rally in South Carolina, Mr Trump responded to the Pope’s comments.

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian,” Mr Trump said. “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

Which is an interesting commentary on the role of a religious leader, really. What role they have other than to question everyone else’s religion and faith is hard to discern. The mobile toupe then went on to say “[The pope] said negative things about me. Because the Mexican government convinced him that Trump is not a good guy.”

Of course, in God-fearing South Carolina – the next state to vote in the primary process – to have the Pope say that he is un-Christian is potentially very damaging. On the other hand, many US protestants are also rabidly anti-Catholic, so who knows exactly how it will play in the South.

Over the course of the campaign, the billionaire property developer has been at pains to prove his religious credentials, appearing at rallies with a copy of the Bible that his mother had given him as a child. He has also said the Vatican was the so-called Islamic State group’s “ultimate trophy” and that if it attacked, “the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened”.

Two of Mr Trump’s Republican rivals, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, both Catholics, wimpishly said they look to the Pope for spiritual guidance, not political direction.

Referencing Mr Trump’s much vaunted wall between America and Mexico, Mr Rubio said the US has a right and an obligation to control its borders. Mr Bush told reporters he “supports walls where it’s appropriate” and that “Christianity is between he and his creator. I don’t think we need to discuss that.”

cleansing temple giorJerry Falwell Jr, the president of the conservative Christian Liberty University and a Trump supporter, told CNN that the Pope had gone too far. “Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country,” he said. Funnily, Mr Falwell appears to have forgotten a few of Jesus’s more choice comments about the Jewish rulers the Pharisees and Saducees, not to mention dear old King Herod. And his attitude to rapacious capitalism was pretty clear, too. Of course we should never let our political bias get spoiled by a few facts even when commenting on religious matters.

The war of words between the right-winger and the Pope has been going on for a while. Earlier this month, Mr Trump called Pope Francis “a very political person” in yet another interview with Fox News, aka Trump Central.

“I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border we have with Mexico,” Mr Trump said. An alternative reading is that the Pope perfectly well understands the situation – which is, if course, essentially economic in nature – and doesn’t think Mexicans are automatically a danger to Americans who need to be forcibly kept out of the country by forceful measures.

American Roman Catholics are seen as an important voting bloc in US elections. Many traditionally support Republican candidates because of their opposition to abortion and gay marriage. This might well be why Mr Trump has responded so abrasively to the Pope’s comments, especially as he has been courting the evangelical Christian vote, often successfully, despite his fellow Republican rivals trying to argue that his religiosity is not sincere.

There is another interpretation of course. Which is that Trump is actually not any type of Christian at all, despite his public protestations, and that the truth hurts.

Meanwhile, in more religious trouble for the hotelier/developer, Ted Cruz’s campaign is now running an advertisement featuring a 1999 television interview Mr Trump gave in which he said he was “very pro-choice” when it comes to abortion.

In January, Mr Trump faced ridicule after flubbing a Bible verse when giving a speech to a Christian university in Virginia. The thrice-married businessman has also said he is a Presbyterian Christian but has had trouble recalling his favourite Bible verse when asked.

We think Mr Trump needs to stop sounding off and consider this:

Trump table

  1. gwpj says:

    True, he is The Wizard of Id.


  2. Pat A says:

    It is no surprise to anyone who has read the gospels and who tries to follow Jesus’ teachings that Trump is not a Christian – no-one on the Far Right is – and that includes just about all the Right Wing in America who seem utterly cruel in many of their pronouncements and actions to anyone that cares about peoples welfare.

    As a Protestant, I say “May God bless and protect Pope Francis and may he successfully continue his reforming ways for another 20 years!”

    Excellent article Yolly.


  3. underwriiter505 says:

    One source said the Pope was pleased to be called “a political person” because Aristotle defined man as a “political animal” (so I guess it means he’s human? or at least some one who pays attention, and he certainly does that.)

    But I don’t think Trump’s a Catholic. I personally wish Pope Francis would excommunicate Paul Ryan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t been to the Vatican for a few years now but the last time I was there I was struck by the bloody great Wall around the City.

    I would imagine this Pope has had it taken down. Maybe Trump will buy the stones to start his wall on the Mexican border.


    • And when was that wall built, I wonder, and for what purpose? It’s certainly not there now to keep out the poor and needy.


      • Oh contraire. And it serves the same purpose now as it did when it was built – “control”.

        That will be the purpose of the wall on the Mexican border. It is far closer to a war zone along that border than it is to a genteel country setting that some people try to portray.

        One minute you are huffing about how Americans shouldn’t have guns to defend themselves and the next you advocate no control for the area where most of the problems stem from.

        Be grateful Australia is surrounded by water.


        • Incidentally, I looked up the Vatican Wall. Originally built to keep out the Saracens. Oh the irony.


          • It is only ironic if you consider the influx of economic migrants from Mexico to be the same as the Islamic invasion of Europe in the 1500s.

            There are two – and only two – issues surrounding America’s relationship with Mexico that truly matter.

            The first is that your country is an enthusiastic consumer of currently illegal drugs from Mexico and countries further south, and while that demand exists supply will continue to be arranged to respond to the demand.

            The solution is to de-criminalise personal use of narcotics (please note, not legalise them, which is a very different matter) and supply them, taxed and quality controlled, through legal outlets for those who wish to use them, thus wiping out the demand. Prohibition never works when what is prohibited is widely desired. The quality control thus brought in will save many lives, too, and bring users within the axis of health professionals who can advise users on harm minimisation. This is precisely the model that has worked so effectively in Portugal, and which is enthusiastically supported by many senior police officers and bureaucrats. Sadly, politicians rarely have the courage to offer evidence-based solutions that contradict the biases of their public.

            The second Mexican problem is the vast disparity in wealth between the two countries and the desire for employers in America to make use of cheap, illegal immigrant labour that results. The solution – which will then involve funds flowing back to the South to start to mitigate the disparity in wealth between the two countries – is to legalise a free flow of labour between the two countries in exactly the way that the EU has done. Eventually the situation equalises due to the laws of supply and demand of which you are such an enthusiastic supporter.

            Needless to say, you will fulminate mightily against both solutions, but you’ll still be wrong. The problem with walls? People simply go round them. That, and the fact that they are addressing a specific problem – poverty – with a Christian would address differently. Hence the Pope’s succinct and utterly appropriate remarks.

            Liked by 1 person

            • As you guessed, I couldn’t disagree with you more.

              I have spent a lot of time up and down the border, both sides, over the past two years. Control is needed urgently there, for the sake of everyone.


          • I found this article interesting. You might, too.

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