Donald Trump hits back at Pope Francis over 'not Christian' comment, but religious scholars call it fair game
Pope Francis and Donald Trump have some things in common: Both control prime pieces of real estate and priceless works of art, both claim to care for the working class, both men wear white.... But, as became clear Thursday, the pope and the GOP presidential frontrunner differ in their interpretation of the gospels. That isn't too unusual for a Catholic and Protestant, but this high-profile spat, in the middle of a heated presidential primary, is pretty remarkable.
Responding to Trump's words about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and deporting 12 million immigrants, the pope said "this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.... This is not the gospel." Trump said it was "disgraceful" for the pope to "question another man's religion or faith" and affirmed his Christianity. "If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS," Trump added, the pope will "have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president."
Trump's GOP rivals mostly steered clear of the dispute, but religious scholars suggested that the pope had raised a fair question about Trump's policies, if not his personal faith. "'Is the Pope Catholic?’ is a joke used to emphasize when something is blindingly obvious," Luke Bretherton, a professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School, said in a statement. "That the question 'Is Donald Trump a Christian?' is not a joke but a serious question should tell us something." He added:
That Pope Francis raises a question about whether certain political views are compatible with Christian belief and practice or not is wholly appropriate and something Christian leaders in North America, whether Democrat or Republican, seem all too happy to pronounce on on a regular basis. When politicians parade their faith as a vote-winning strategy, they necessarily invite comment on the status and coherence of their faith commitments with their political positions.
Bretherton's colleague Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology, was a bit more nuanced: "Donald Trump's proposal isn't consistent with deep Christian understandings of the movements of peoples across border; that, in turn, is perfectly consistent with Trump himself being a Christian — which is to say someone baptized in the triune name."
Slamming the pope isn't expected to hurt Trump in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, where 65 percent of the 2012 GOP primary voters were evangelical Christians and only 13 percent were Catholic. It could hurt him in the delegate-rich, heavily Catholic states in the Northeast. Peter Weber
A man billed as a "Swedish defense and national security adviser" on Fox News is unknown in the Swedish national security community, The Washington Post reported Saturday afternoon. Nils Bildt appeared on a segment of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor on Thursday to argue immigration has made Sweden unsafe, but a Swedish newspaper reported the next day Bildt is not known to Sweden's military or foreign ministry.
He emigrated from Sweden in 1994 and was convicted of a violent offense in Virginia in 2014. Bildt is not his original surname; it appears to be intended to suggest relation to Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister whose brother — a different man — is also named Nils.
Bill O'Reilly will address the issue Monday. In the meantime, you can watch the segment featuring Nils not-Bildt below. Bonnie Kristian
The Democratic National Committee on Saturday chose former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as the new DNC chair in a race President Trump alleged on Sunday was stolen from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party by Hillary Clinton and her accomplices:
The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally "rigged." Bernie's guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
Seven candidates were in contention for the position, but Perez, the preferred candidate of many former members of the Obama administration and the Hillary Clinton campaign, was one of two favorites along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who was backed by progressives, including Sanders.
The chair vote was taken in two ballots — Perez was one vote shy of triumph on the first round — amid some controversy over a last-minute decision to use paper ballots instead of an electronic voting method, a change Ellison supporters viewed with suspicion. The final vote was 235 for Perez and 200 for Ellison. Bonnie Kristian
In the latest volley of his war on the press, President Trump tweeted Saturday evening that he will break with decades of tradition to skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which is scheduled for April 29.
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
The White House Correspondents' Association said in a statement it "takes note" of Trump's decision, but will not cancel this "celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic." Several media outlets already canceled their pre- and after-parties in protest of Trump's behavior.
Billionaire Warren Buffett published his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders on Saturday, predicting investors "will almost certainly do well" if they stick with a "collection of large, conservatively financed American businesses." The American economy "is virtually certain to be worth far more in the years ahead," he wrote, enthusing about American "economic dynamism":
One word sums up our country’s achievements: miraculous. From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers. You need not be an economist to understand how well our system has worked. Just look around you. [Berkshire Hathaway]
Buffett devoted a large portion of his letter to decrying Wall Street fees that aren't worth it for investors:
The bottom line: When trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients. Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds. ... My calculation, admittedly very rough, is that the search by the elite for superior investment advice has caused it, in aggregate, to waste more than $100 billion over the past decade. Figure it out: Even a 1% fee on a few trillion dollars adds up. Of course, not every investor who put money in hedge funds ten years ago lagged S&P returns. But I believe my calculation of the aggregate shortfall is conservative. [Berkshire Hathaway]
The Democratic National Committee on Saturday voted down a resolution that would have revived a ban on corporate lobbyist donations first instituted by President Obama. The corporate lobbyist donation ban was lifted by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former DNC chair who resigned last summer amid allegations of primary contest favoritism.
DNC members are considering Resolution 33 banning corp $ now pic.twitter.com/LbR4Nz48md
— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) February 25, 2017
Saturday's vote produced outrage on social media, particularly in the party's progressive wing.
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) February 25, 2017
— henderson (@pendletone) February 25, 2017
— . (@Zachary507) February 25, 2017
The main item on the DNC meeting agenda in Atlanta Saturday is the selection of a new DNC chair. The top two contenders are Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Bonnie Kristian
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, President Trump told the story of his "very, very substantial" friend Jim, who used to be very fond of vacationing in Paris but no longer visits because "Paris is no longer Paris."
French President Francois Hollande on Saturday took issue with the anecdote, which Trump shared in service to a point about fighting terrorism. "There is terrorism and we must fight it together," Hollande said. "I think that it is never good to show the smallest defiance toward an allied country. I wouldn't do it with the United States and I'm urging the U.S. president not to do it with France."
After sweeping the Golden Globes, La La Land is the heavy favorite for Best Picture — not to mention its 13 other nominations, the most for any film this year — at Sunday's 2017 Academy Awards ceremony. Still, there are seven other Best Picture nominees, and an intriguing analysis by The New York Times finds their support is far from uniform across the United States.
The rationale behind some of the movies' geographic popularity — which the Times mapped using location data on each film's Facebook likes — is more obvious than others. For example, Hidden Figures, which tells the true story of black women's oft-ignored contributions to the space race, was most popular in the Black Belt region of the South, which has a large African-American population. Likewise, Hacksaw Ridge, another true story, was a big hit in the Appalachian area from which its main character hails.
Other connections aren't so simple. For example, Arrival, a science-fiction film about alien contact, was popular in Maine, which the Times notes "has a lot of U.F.O. sightings."