Biden’s Empty Christianity

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

I’m so sick of hearing about President Joe Biden’s deep Christian faith. The media often talks about it, when contrasting his lifestyle with that of former President Donald Trump, who is currently on trial for a hush-money payment to a porn star. It goes without saying Biden is superior to Trump politically in every respect, but talk of the former’s religious commitment rings hollow in light of his support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

In recent years, I’ve looked for a spiritual home. As an animal activist, I’ve been frustrated by Christianity’s lack of concern for the suffering of other creatures, and found myself drawn to Hinduism. One area, however, in which I understand Christianity to be admirably clear and progressive is its opposition to war. I have a hard time saying war is never necessary, but Christianity’s pacifism is far more right than than wrong.

I don’t believe Biden sending 2,000-pound bombs to a country dropping them on children aligns with Christian values. Is this beating swords into ploughshares? Is this loving your enemy? Is this being a peacemaker? I think the answer is an unequivocal no. It’s not as if Biden’s war support is a personal failing he’s struggled with and seeks forgiveness for. He is constantly making an affirmative case for his stance.

When I look for Christian sentiment in opposition to animal exploitation, I generally have to look well outside the Christian mainstream. That isn’t the case when looking for Christian sentiment in opposition to war. For instance, Pope Francis is the leader of the largest branch of Christianity, which boasts more than a billion members, including Biden. The head of the Catholic Church has repeatedly called for an end to the violence.

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed centrist Democrats laying the groundwork to blame Biden’s potential defeat on the left. To be clear, I’ll be voting for him, if the choice is between him and Trump. However, this example of advance factional fighting is ludicrous. Biden is a centrist. His administration is made up of centrists. If he loses to Trump, it will be the fault of the center. Biden needs to make his case to voters.

Increasingly, I believe New York Times columnist Ezra Klein was correct when he argued Biden should bow out of the presidential race and allow another Democrat to run in his place. Polls have shown for sometime Trump is leading Biden. Almost no other Democratic candidate would have Biden’s unique vulnerabilities. For instance, I can’t imagine they would be as old as Biden or have such dogged support for a policy tearing apart the Democratic base.

It’s not too late for Biden to do the honorable thing, forego his ego and step aside. The Democratic Convention could select a new presidential nominee this summer. It’s far from ideal but the current approach isn’t working. Among other things, saving our country from Trump and preventing the massacre of countless Palestinians may require drastic measures. If we’re serious about defeating fascism, all options need to be on the table.

Jon Hochschartner is the author of a number of books about animal-rights history, including The Animals’ Freedom Fighter, Ingrid Newkirk, and Puppy Killer, Leave Town. He blogs at