Mayor Pete’s Singing Chaplain

South Bend arts and worship pastor enlists Jesus in the anti-Trump chorus.

“If a guy like Donald Trump keeps trying to use religion to somehow recruit Christianity into the GOP, I will be standing there.”

That was Democrat contender Pete Buttigieg in the recent CNN presidential debate. In a similar debate last year, Buttigieg said,we should call out hypocrisy when we see it. And for a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is OK to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”

And so on, with vice president Mike Pence a frequent target. On top of that record, Democrat presidential contender Buttigieg now has a soundtrack of sorts in the form of  “Hymn for the 81%,” by Daniel Dietrich, a pastor for arts and worship at the South Bend City Church. The percentage is a reference to those Christians who support President Donald Trump.

“I grew up in your churches,” the song goes, “Sunday morning, evening service, knelt in tears at the foot of the rugged cross.” At that place, “I learned from you the highest law is Love,” and as the hymn goes:

You said to speak the truth
So I’m calling you out
Why don’t you live the words
That you put in my mouth
May love overcome and justice roll down

They started putting kids in cages
Ripping mothers from their babies
And I looked to you to speak on their behalf
But all I heard was silence
Or worse you justify it
Singing glory hallelujah raise the flag

Your fear had turned to hatred
But you baptized it with language
torn from the pages of the good book
You weaponized religion
And you wonder why I’m leaving
To find Jesus on the wrong side of your walls

And so on. For all his proclaimed dedication to the truth, the composer seems unaware that the cage photos were all from the previous administration. On the 2011, PBS “Frontline” documentary Lost in Detention, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Muñoz explained, “Even if the immigration law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children.”

The Obama administration exploited the separation policy to enrich cronies such as Juan Sanchez of the National Council of La Raza, who bagged nearly $1 billion in federal funds to house migrant children. And POTUS 44 recruited Cecilia Muñoz from the same National Council of La Raza, which in 2017 changed its name to UnidosUS.

As CNN reported last year, “Obama deported more people than Trump.” Nothing in the previous administration’s record prompted Daniel Dietrich to compose a song calling out the child separators and the Christians who supported POTUS 44. For anyone dedicated to the truth, the problem goes much deeper.

The Central American children were initially separated from their families when their parents chose to place their own offspring in the hands of criminal smugglers. Daniel Dietrich never addressed the immorality and criminality of such action in a song, and he did not call out the pastors, priests and politicians who justify human trafficking on a massive scale.

Like South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend City Church arts and worship pastor Daniel Dietrich only calls out Christians who support Donald Trump. That struck a chord with Trump haters in the establishment media, but others might wonder about the musical merits of  “Hymn for the 81%.”

Dietrich’s performance recalls something a character said on “South Park” after hearing some contemporary Christian music: “Son, you’re not helping the Lord, and you’re hurting rock and roll.” Pastor of arts and worship Dietrich is more of a folksy, Bob Dylan-style crooner, but the reference remains relevant. The pastor’s vocal stylings won’t remind anyone of Dave Van Ronk, Phil Ochs, or Tom Paxton.

Others might recall Beavis and Butthead responding to some dreadful heavy metal video. “Isn’t this video kind of like a turd?” Butthead wondered. “If it were only a turd,” Beavis shot back, “it might be kinda cool anyway.” In biblical terms it would be “just offal.”

The trouble with music, as the late Eddie Harris said, was that you can become famous and successful before really knowing it. The same applies to politics and religion, and South Bend City Church pastor for the arts and worship Daniel Dietrich seems to have combined the three in a strange sort of trinity.

Meanwhile, as the New York Daily News reported yesterday, “Pete Buttigieg claimed first place in an 11th hour Iowa caucus poll Monday.” The former South Bend Mayor scored 19%, ahead of  Bernie Sanders at 17%, Joe Biden at 15%, Elizabeth Warren at 15% and Amy Klobuchar at 11%. So maybe Daniel Dietrich’s “Hymn for the 81%” did give Mayor Pete a boost. As the hymn closes out:

Come home
Come home
You’re better than this
You taught me better than this

As Barry McGuire said, don’t forget to say grace. And now abide hypocrisy, partisanship, and ignorance, but the greatest of these is ignorance.


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