Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, issued a short and sweet response after protesters chanting "Sodom and Gomorrah" interrupted him at an Iowa campaign rally.
An organized effort led by Randall Terry, a Christian activist who founded the anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue, attempted to detract from the event by shouting about the Biblical cities destroyed by God's wrath. But the crowd of more than 1,600 Buttigieg supporters drowned them out by chanting Buttigieg's name.
Once the ruckus died down, Buttigieg, the first openly gay man in American history to run for the nation's highest office, smiled and said:
"The good news is, the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you."
"You know, the good news is, the condition of my soul is in the hands of God but the Iowa Caucuses are up to you."… https://t.co/x5RfNdwzxJ— The Hill (@The Hill)1555482732.0
Buttigieg's measured response earned significant praise, with some noting that the crowd's reaction lay in stark contrast to the often raucous behavior witnessed at Trump rallies.
I don't think I'd respond to a heckler shouting "remember Sodom and Gomorrah!" in such a calm way, so good thing I'… https://t.co/RZBMcVPXy9— Jennifer Bendery (@Jennifer Bendery)1555509935.0
Is Lott really the person you want to hold up as how to live your life? A man who gave his virgin daughters to a ga… https://t.co/KptoHhlGSl— Renee Adcock (@Renee Adcock)1555511913.0
@thehill How refreshing to see a candidate who doesn't threaten a protestor with violence and promise to pay legal… https://t.co/HjPjmmHlcD— Beth Noble (@Beth Noble)1555507646.0
@thehill Pete has more integrity and strong moral character in his little finger than Trump has in his whole body,… https://t.co/Hs2CiG2YxV— Just can't stay silent (@Just can't stay silent)1555484189.0
So extreme are Terry's views that the organization he founded, cut ties with him years ago.
"Randall Terry is not affiliated with Operation Rescue and does not speak for this organization in any way," Operation Rescue said in 2009, shortly after Terry claimed that the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller “has the potential to propel us more quickly to our goal.”
This wasn't the first time Buttigieg was heckled while on the campaign trail.
The same group of protesters led by Terry has cosplayed as Jesus, Satan, and Buttigieg in another attempt to denounce Buttigieg's "sins."
Protesters at @PeteButtigieg meet and greet — this time it involves actors dressed as Jesus, Satan and the mayor.… https://t.co/XI9z155PNM— Elena Schneider (@Elena Schneider)1555512066.0
Terry has pledged to follow Buttigieg around Iowa with the intention of disrupting all five of his campaign stops."
"I grieve for Pete Buttigieg – for his endangered soul, his sexual bondage – and I am enraged by what he is really doing," he said. "He is a baby-killing politician, who is recruiting young people into homosexual bondage by his example, and trying to normalize what is an intrinsically evil behavior."
Earlier, Buttigieg was confronted by a man who interrupted him during a smaller event in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
"Grandparents, do you want your grandchildren following his example?" the man yelled after Buttigieg brought up same-sex marriage. "God loves us, but he [Buttigieg] stands for the murder of unborn babies," he continued, a reference to comments Buttigieg made last month about how women are not "free if your reproductive choices are being dictated by male politicians in Washington."
"Coffee after church gets a little rowdy sometimes," Buttigieg said after the man was removed from the room. "That gentleman believes that what he is doing is in line with the will of the creator. I view it differently. We ought to be able to view it differently."
Here’s video of that protester at Buttigieg’s Fort Dodge town hall, and his response: https://t.co/gf66B67405— Alexandra Jaffe (@Alexandra Jaffe)1555458291.0
Buttigieg has faced considerable opposition from members of the right, including Chandelle Summer, a conservative contributor to MSNBC who believes Buttigieg is "so far from the norm" as to hand President Donald Trump a victory in 2020.
"He will be the first Maltese-American and Episcopalian gay, millennial war veteran ever to have reached for the presidency," Summer said earlier this week. "He is so far from the norm when it comes to political candidates that I think that voters will flock in droves to Donald Trump as a candidate just because they will find this so unusual and frightening."
These criticisms are unlikely to deter Buttigieg, who firmly believes he can defeat Trump in 2020.
"I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern, millennial mayor, but we live in a moment that compels us each to act," he said while announcing his candidacy on Sunday. "It calls for a new generation of leadership. It's time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different."