Pete Buttigieg, Gay and Christian, Challenges Religious Right on Their Own Turf – The New York Times

But Mr. Buttigieg has cited Mr. Pence’s support for legislation that made it easier for religious conservatives to refuse service to gay couples as a reason he decided to come out publicly in 2015.

Mr. Pence’s office responded to Mr. Buttigieg’s comments this week by releasing an old video clip in which he praised the mayor as a “dedicated public servant and a patriot.” Mr. Buttigieg’s ramped-up attacks on Mr. Pence have miffed the vice president, who has privately told allies that if Mr. Buttigieg had questions about his religious beliefs, he could have asked him at any time during their friendship.

The issue followed the vice president to the United Nations on Wednesday, where reporters shouted questions at him about whether being gay was a choice. Mr. Pence walked away without answering.

The reaction from other conservatives was less measured. A Fox News host, Todd Starnes, accused the mayor of wanting “to shove evangelical Christians into the closet.”

Erick Erickson, an evangelical blogger, said that Mr. Buttigieg’s comments about religious conservatives who support Mr. Trump suggest that he “would be O.K. with using the government to persecute Christians.” After Mr. Buttigieg spoke about his beliefs in an interview with USA Today, Mr. Erickson wrote a blog post headlined, “Mayor Pete Buttigieg Apparently Thinks Jesus Would Be Okay With Beastiality.” (Mr. Buttigieg actually said nothing on that subject, though he did quote a favorite Bible verse: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”)

Mr. Buttigieg has provoked a mixture of concern, derision and faint admiration from conservatives. Some built him up early as an undeniable but stealth force in the race. Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners that someone as articulate, personal and seemingly reasonable as Mr. Buttigieg would be a strong opponent. Ben Shapiro, the writer and podcast host, argued that he was the candidate who could most likely beat Mr. Trump. “Really. He’s not crazy, he’s from the Rust Belt, he served in Afghanistan,” Mr. Shapiro wrote on Twitter.

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