Pete Buttigieg Backs Down After Defending Use of the Word 'Pharisee' to Describe Mike Pence

Mayor Pete Buttigieg will stop calling Vice President Mike Pence and other Republican evangelicals “Pharisees” after Jewish critics expressed concern about using the word.

Communications adviser Lis Smith announced on Twitter that the campaign would change their approach.

“We appreciate the people who have reached out to educate us on this,” she wrote. “While intended to highlight political hypocrisy, we listened and learned and won’t be using it going forward.”

After the Jerusalem Post raised concerns about Buttigieg’s use of the word, the campaign initially defended it.

“The Mayor expressed his concern about the hypocrisy on the part of evangelical leaders,” Buttigieg’s National Press Secretary Chris Meagher said in the statement. “He invoked this Biblical reference since it is commonly used to show skepticism of hypocritical establishment leaders. That was the way he intended it.”

Last week, Buttigieg told the Washington Post there was “an awful lot about Pharisees” in the Bible, criticizing Christians like Pence with a “such a dogmatic take on faith” but still joining what he considered the morally flawed Trump administration.

“It is alarmingly resonant with some New Testament themes, and not in a good way,” he said.

On The View, Buttigieg referred to the Bible’s description of the hypocritical Pharisees to describe Christians like Pence.

“The Bible is full of it, it talks about this,” he said. “It talks about hypocrites. It talks about Pharisees … frankly, political officials and priests don’t come off that well in the text of the New Testament.”