The alliance between Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants on a range of issues dear to social conservatives has been one of the biggest storylines in religion and politics in recent decades.
But in the Age of Pope Francis and the Era of President Trump that union may be fraying. In a tweet posted Monday night (Nov. 14), Jerry Falwell Jr. — a Baptist and leader of the religious right who was one of Trump’s chief promoters — delivered a pithy and pointed critique of the pontiff. “Pope Francis lost all credibility when he failed to call out US Left for policies that impoverished inner cities 4 Dem political gain,” Falwell tweeted. The tweet — directed at the Pope’s Twitter account, @Pontifex — was almost immediately deleted. Reached by phone Tuesday by RNS, the Liberty University president said his wife, Becki, and 16-year-old daughter, Caroline, had made him take it down, something he said happens “every now and then.” But he stood by the tweet and said it was prompted by the Pope’s comments in an interview published Friday by Italian daily La Repubblica. Asked what he thought about the president-elect, Francis said: “I do not judge people or politicians. I only want to understand what suffering their behavior causes to the poor and the excluded.” Falwell said his tweet should be read less as “critical” and more “thinking out loud.” “I couldn’t help but think, ‘Where were you the last eight years when (President Barack) Obama’s policies were further impoverishing the inner cities through these welfare programs that give people just enough to survive but to keep them dependent on the government?’” he said. “It’s my opinion the Democrats do it for their own political gain. I would like to see the Pope speak out against that.”