Nun, Methodist bishop blast Trump for using faith as a ‘ploy to grab votes’

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(RNS) Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump convincingly won the Nevada caucuses but is still struggling in what might be called “the Pope Francis primary.”

In a joint op-ed in the Wednesday (Feb. 24) edition of The Hill, the first Hispanic woman elected as a bishop of the United Methodist Church and a Catholic nun who is an outspoken Washington lobbyist for social-justice causes blast Trump for the views he expressed in his fight with the pontiff over what it means to be a Christian.

United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano of Los Angeles spoke at a rally before more than 100 protesters were arrested in front of the White House on July 31, 2014. They sought to halt deportations and aid immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano of Los Angeles spoke at a rally before more than 100 protesters were arrested in front of the White House on July 31, 2014. They sought to halt deportations and aid immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. 

“Mr. Trump cannot defend that which he does not seem to understand,” Bishop Minerva Carcano of Los Angeles, an immigration reform advocate, and Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” tour, write of Trump’s pledge to be the “greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.”

Trump’s rhetoric against immigrants and minority groups — Mexicans and Muslims in particular — has drawn sharp rebukes from many faith leaders even as his bluster seems to have buoyed him with GOP primary voters.

The New York businessman has also periodically rapped the pope for his comments and actions on behalf of the poor and marginalized, and he sharply criticized Francis earlier this month for the pope’s decision to celebrate Mass near the U.S.-Mexico border during a visit to Mexico — a liturgy aimed at highlighting the plight of migrants.

Asked about Trump’s criticisms, Francis later said someone who espouses positions attributed to Trump “is not Christian,” a comment that further angered Trump, who called the pope’s remarks “disgraceful.”

Sister Simone Campbell speaks during 2012 "Nuns on the Bus" tour. Photo courtesy of Network

Sister Simone Campbell speaks during 2012 “Nuns on the Bus” tour. Photo courtesy of Network

“What is disgraceful is Mr. Trump’s xenophobic zeal,” write Carcano and Campbell. “Stirring up fear of immigrants by calling them rapists and then offering a giant wall as a solution is anything but a solution.”

They continue:

“Mr. Trump is executing a political strategy that has been around for millennia: channeling anger born of fear. He is not the only candidate to do so, but his microphone seems to be the loudest and the angriest. We understand that much of this fear is coming from those who see their majority status – white and Christian and male – changing. They have not felt that they have someone standing alongside them. But Mr. Trump’s promise to defend their Christianity is merely a political ploy to grab their votes. It’s not just manipulative and cynical, it diminishes the deep wisdom of our Christian faith, and that is offensive to us.”

The bishop and the nun conclude by widening their critique to include “holier-than-thou claims by presidential candidates wearing Christian costumes.”

“It will take more than holding up a false placard declaring that one understands what it is to be Christian,” they write.

(David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS. He assisted Sister Simone Campbell in writing her 2014 memoir, “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community”)

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  • Betty Clermont

    But no criticisms by name from the entire US Catholic GOP-lapdog episcopate.

  • William Mahrt

    This kind of statement probably gains Trump votes.

  • Sabelotodo2

    This is a tremendous example of how advocates such as the nun and the Methodist bishop can be partially right, but also biased and ill-informed. There was no need to inject gender into this–their statement about white men fearing their loss of status, is cancelled out by the fact that some 48% of women–of all colors, supported Trump as well. I’m no defender of Trump, but again, the first rule for those stepping up to a big megaphone is that they should be well-informed and accurate in what they’re putting forth. Also, both the Democrat candidates have leveraged their religious connections to cultivate votes as well–it’s not just the Republicans “wearing religious clothing.”

    In my humble opinion ALL you religionists should get the h _ _ _ out of politics’ seductive spotlight, and become reacquainted with that larger kingdom work to which you have been called.

  • Darrell Fasching

    If the “first rule for those steppingup to a big megaphone is that they should get well-informed and accurate” then the one with the biggest megaphone should lead the way. Would you pass that on to Donald?

    PS. It is clear you have no idea what “the larger kingdom work” is.

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  • Jack

    These people are only going to help Trump with his base.

    The most effective criticisms of Trump have got to come from the right of center, not the left of center.

    Moreover, they miss the point. What’s wrong with Trump goes far beyond his particular positions on issues. What’s wrong with Trump is clear to anyone with eyes, ears, a brain, and intellectual honesty. He treats other people, especially, those disagreeing with him or posing a threat to his drive for power, like garbage, as evidenced by sheer volume of garbage that tumbles out of his mouth. And if he gets elected president, he will get worse, not better. Count on it.

  • Jack

    This is unfortunately true.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    Anonymous Sableolotodo2,

    Remember you’re talking about a lot of people who really believe that it’s the woman’s duty to vote as her husband or father tells her to.

    -dlj.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    Jack,

    These people *are* to the right of center. These are church leaders, remember?

    -dlj.

  • Jack

    Yes, but so are most Republicans who oppose Trump.

  • Jack

    Or, to put it more precisely, so are the majority of Republicans who are voting for candidates other than Trump.

  • Gwen

    Let’s keep religion and medical decisions out of politics.

  • Debbo

    You said, “There was no need to inject gender into this–their statement about white men fearing their loss of status, is cancelled out by the fact that some 48% of women–of all colors, supported Trump as well.”

    That’s not what they’re saying. They are saying the people fearing loss of hegemony are white males. While some women are voting for tRump, they do not fear losing dominance because they’ve never had it to lose. (I cannot fathom why anyone votes for such a bully.)

  • Debbo

    I’m referring to Sabelotodo2. Sorry for any confusion.

  • Pj Baumg

    Catholic priests and Bishops are not supposed to give endorsements for or against politicians in elections,etc.

  • james reed

    Seeing now that there just might be a chance this manipulator of the masses could be elected, his statements about building the wall and getting Mexico to pay for it is finally making sense: If he is elected, millions, like me, will want to exit the country post haste, Mexico will build the wall, immediately at their expense, to keep us idiot Americans out.