Jeb Bush wants the keys to the White House, but he has found himself at odds with the man with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pope Francis recently issued an encyclical on the environment, criticizing those who do it harm (energy firms, dishonest scientists, short-sighted politicians) and calling on the world's more than 1 billion Catholics to become preservationists for the planet.
Jeb Bush is openly aligned with the former group, and he's made it clear he has no intention of joining the latter.
Bush was aware of the conflict even before it became official and has consistently worked to distance himself from papal opinion.
On the day prior in Iowa, Bush said, "I don't go to mass for economic policy or for things in politics."
It's the sweeping "things in politics" that should jump out -- because it's a lie.
This secularism may sound reasonable. In fact, it's what many of us regularly call for in politics and governance.
However, it conflicts heavily with Bush's own stances on marriage equality, abortion rights, euthanasia and numerous other important issues.
During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in May, Bush's religion was central to his rejection of same-sex marriage. He insisted, "We need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage."
"It's at the core of the Catholic faith."
He made similar comments following the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decision.
So, when it comes to denying rights to same-sex couples, he has referenced not just God or Christianity, but Catholicism, specifically.
When it comes to the rights of big business, he's suddenly secular.
Dogma was also a driving force when he contested a mentally-disabled rape victim's right to terminate her pregnancy. Prior to that, he vetoed funding for facilities that provide contraception and family planning to low-income women.
In fact, Mr. Bush, who it should be noted has no uterus, has been extremely active in determining reproductive rights, and his moral standpoint has come from his God and his religion. Yet, when that religion becomes inconvenient, he's quick to distance himself.
Jeb Bush is, of course, not alone in this religious conflict. Rick Santorum recently told the pope to "leave science to the scientists" after a disagreement on climate change was mentioned.
When Santorum was told Pope Francis has a degree in chemistry, he seemed unimpressed, as did many conservative commentators. But, Francis' academic credentials are immaterial.
He is simply in line with all mainstream scientists on the subject and acting as a moral authority by saying people have an obligation to take action.
Nonetheless, when it comes to climate change, Santorum continues to defer to the conservative-funded Heartland Institute's, "it's not humans' fault" position, instead of the, "of course it's our fault" stance of essentially every respectable scientist on the planet.
This prevents him from even having to address the ethical issue. Miraculous.
To be fair, it's not just the Pope causing problems. Quotes from the son of God himself continue to be a thorn in the Right's side.
"Give the money to the poor" (Mathew 19:21), "You cannot serve God and money" (Mathew 6:24) and "If you owe taxes, pay taxes" (Romans 13:7) have never gone over well.
And the whole "the meek shall inherit the Earth" thing has been especially troublesome. For one, the meek don't vote Republican.
And two, the Earth should be sufficiently fracked and heated and baby seal-less as to be un-inheritable.
Whatever the issue, time and again, reconciling doctrine and political expediency has proven problematic, which is why politicians continue to champion whatever fits their platform and ignore what does not.
It's important to note Jeb Bush is allowed to be unreasonable -- about climate change or anything else. But, he should at least have the courage to remove religion from the equation and say precisely how he feels.
He personally dislikes same-sex marriage and abortion more than he likes civil liberties.
Fine. And, he likes money from oil lobbyists more than he likes polar bears being alive. Also fine. But, he should be honest about it, which is something he appears unwilling to do.
During a follow-up question in Iowa, Bush said, "I don't think we should politicize our faith."
That's a lie, too.
Jeb Bush has consistently demonstrated that he's happy to cite his faith, the Bible and various religious leaders, while moralizing about issues that help him court voters.
However, when forced to choose between evolving Catholic positions and stagnant political ideology, he's chosen the cult of conservatism.
And that's a sect quite uninterested in the progressive morality of Pope Francis, making Republican presidential candidates like Bush suddenly — and selectively — secular.
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