Joe Biden is America’s second Catholic president. By all accounts, his faith is genuine. Biden often incorporates religious references into his speeches, and his inauguration was so studded with religiosity that Americans United urged him to remember that not all Americans are people of faith.
Biden attends Mass regularly. Whether you share Biden’s faith or not, and whether you appreciate his religious rhetoric or not, it’s pretty clear he is sincere about it and is a genuinely devout man.
Yet, according to a recent Pew Forum poll, nearly two-thirds of self-identified Republicans say Biden is “not too” or “not at all” religious.
Results like this are yet another example of how Christian nationalism has poisoned the national discourse, leading some people, for purely partisan reasons, to ignore facts that are staring them in the face.
Many conservatives, especially those affiliated with the Religious Right, are living in their own little bubble of illusions, a place where facts dare not tread. In this parallel word, Donald Trump really won the election, antifa members assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and Biden is practically a secular humanist.
The irony is, many of these same people worshipped at the altar of Trump, perhaps the most biblically illiterate president we’ve ever had. (Remember the time when Trump, after claiming that the Bible was his favorite book, was asked to name a verse he enjoyed and couldn’t? Or his famous reference to “Two Corinthians”?) You didn’t have to be a theologian to see that Trump’s personal behavior – the boasting of sexual assaults, the constant lying, the name-calling and crude attacks on perceived enemies – had little in common with Christian morality. Yet to people like Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed and other moral majoritarians, Trump was practically a new savior. (Some on the fringes are, believe it or not, still awaiting his Second Coming.)
There’s some comfort in knowing that most Americans aren’t buying into the Christian nationalists’ delusions. Overall, 64% of Americans say Biden is either “very” or “somewhat” religious.
The Book of Matthew advises, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”
Christian nationalists feasted on Trump’s rotten fruits for four years, eagerly swapping their integrity for a taste of political power and the promise of having their religious views melded into public policy. It must be difficult to rationalize that level of hypocrisy. But pretending that the man who came after Trump is cut from the same cloth isn’t the answer. Anyone whose eyes are open can see that his fruits are quite different.
Photo: President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden attend Catholic services in Washington, D.C.