Pete Buttigieg Responds After Trump Accuses Him of Being a 'Pretend' Christian: 'God Does Not Belong to a Political Party'

Democratic 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg responded after President Donald Trump told an evangelical Christian crowd in Florida Friday night that the former mayor is using his religion as a prop.

Trump told members of his evangelical base at the King Jesus International Ministry in Miami that God is "on our side" against "radical left" Democrats. He accused several prominent Democratic figures including Buttigieg and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of trying to remove God from America and replace religion with socialism, although he offered no examples of how this is happening. Trump once again mocked Buttigieg's name and questioned whether his Christian faith is genuine, prompting a succinct rebuke from the former mayor, whose term ended on January 1.

"The extreme left is trying to replace religion with government and replace God with socialism," Trump claimed Friday in Florida, prompting boos from the audience.

"And I see Alfred E. Neuman comes out and he's trying to pretend he's very religious. Alfred E. Neuman you know who that is, right?" Trump said, comparing the Democratic candidate to the fictitious Mad magazine cover character. "Buttigieg—you go 'boot' and then 'edge, edge,' because nobody can pronounce his name so they call him 'Mayor Pete.'"

"Now Mayor Pete I hope he does great. Boot-edge-edge. Now all of a sudden he's become extremely religious, this happened about two weeks ago," Trump continued.

God does not belong to a political party.

— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 4, 2020

Buttigieg responded on Twitter late Friday night with a concise message: "God does not belong to a political party."

Buttigieg has publicly stated that he attends Episcopal church services and has long highlighted his Christian faith on the campaign trail through prayers and "scriptural meditation." As the Des Moines Register reported in August, Buttigieg has repeatedly rebuked the notion that God picks political favorites of any kind.

"Time to establish once and for all that God does not belong to a political party," he told a crowd in Tipton, Iowa in August.

Trump railed against a wide range of Democratic figures during his nearly one-and-a-half-hour speech in Miami on Friday night. He mocked former Representative Beto O'Rourke, who dropped out of the Democratic primary race several months ago, for trying to run in Texas with "no Bible, no oil, no guns."

"These angry radicals want to impose absolute conformity by censuring speech, tearing down crosses and symbols of faith and banning religious believers from public life."

"Our opponents want to shut out God from the public square so they can impose their extreme, anti-religious and socialist agenda on America," Trump announced Friday night. "We are going to defeat the radical Washington Democrats."

Trump even appeared to question the religiosity of the people in the church Friday night, joking that because there were so many people waiting outside to get in, "If you're truly religious you should give up your seat right now."

The Republican Party is touting Donald Trump as the "pro-life" president they need to prevent abortions nationwide and to insert conservative federal judges.

"As President, @realDonaldTrump has supported pro-life policies, appointed nearly 200 strong conservative judges and defended religious freedoms at home and abroad. That's why the Evangelical community wants him re-elected in Nov!" tweeted RNC chairman Ronna McDaniel Saturday morning.

"As #EvangelicalsForTrump launches in Miami, Americans will remember President Trump's dedication to working to safeguard religious freedoms at home. Our Constitution protects the fundamental right to religious liberty, & so does @realDonaldTrump!" the official GOP Twitter account wrote Friday.

Exit polling from the 2016 presidential election showed 76 percent of self-identified white evangelicals voted for Trump.

donald trump pete buttigieg christian
Faith leaders pray over President Donald Trump during a 'Evangelicals for Trump' campaign event held at the King Jesus International Ministry on January 03, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Pete Buttigieg responded after President Trump accused him of being a fake Christian and using religion as a political prop—a charge frequently levied against his own reelection campaign. JOE RAEDLE / Staff/GETTY IMAGES