Buttigieg campaign says it will stop using 'Pharisees' to describe conservative Christians

A spokesperson for South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegAT&T, Verizon to delay 5G rollout near certain airports Top Democrats call on AT&T and Verizon to delay 5G rollouts near airports Hillicon Valley — Airlines issue warning about 5G service MORE’s (D) presidential campaign said Tuesday that the candidate will no longer use the term “Pharisee” to describe what he perceives as religious hypocrisy.

Buttigieg has repeatedly used the term in reference to Vice President Pence to accuse Pence of hypocrisy for serving in President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE’s administration while espousing conservative Christian values.

Progressive Jewish leaders have argued the use of the term as an insult has anti-Semitic undertones. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg referred back to an earlier tweet in which she said use of the term as an insult by non-Jewish people “has been used to murder & expel us for centuries--Inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the Holocaust, you name it.”

In response, Buttigieg spokesperson Lis Smith tweeted “We appreciate the people who have reached out to educate us on this. While intended to highlight political hypocrisy, we listened and learned and won’t be using it going forward.”

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Pharisees were a Jewish sect that existed in the first century, and are depicted in the New Testament as frequently in conflict with Jesus. “When you see someone, especially somebody who has such a dogmatic take on faith that they bring it into public life, being willing to attach themselves to this administration for the purposes of gaining power, it is alarmingly resonant with some New Testament themes, and not in a good way,” Buttigieg told The Washington Post in reference to Pence.

The controversy, and Buttigieg’s pledge, echo an earlier story in which the 37-year-old used the phrase “all lives matter” in a speech. Buttigieg said he was not aware of controversy over the phrase, which racial justice advocates have claimed deliberately minimize the hardships faced specifically by black Americans.