Letter to a Trump Supporter #3: Liberation Theology

This is the third in my series of “Letters to a Trump Supporter,” from correspondence with a family friend who supports Mr. Trump.

Continuing our conversation about Central and South America, he sent me a blog post accusing Tim Kaine of being a Marxist for his association with “liberation theology.”

If you haven’t heard of liberation theology before, you’re not alone. It’s a relic of the Cold War, when it was used to paint Latinos as a threat to the United States. It plays on the same fears as the rest of Mr. Trump’s nativism.

Below is my response.


Dear Mr. ——,

Liberation theology is a fascinating branch of Catholicism. I find a lot to admire in it for its service to the poor and its pursuit of social justice.

Its most famous proponent was probably Óscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador. Pope John Paul II gave him the official title of Servant of God, Pope Benedict XVI nominated him for beatification, and Pope Francis officially beatified him. So, far from opposing liberation theology, the last three Popes have been very supportive of liberation theologists like Romero.

Archbishop Romero was assassinated in 1980 by US-backed Salvadoran troops, one of many casualties of US-backed regimes in the Cold War. So, before we starting throwing around words like “Marxist,” we should be aware of where those attacks have led us in the past.

I think it is particularly disturbing to see Catholics criticizing Tim Kaine’s beliefs at a time when he is running against a campaign that Pope Francis has publicly declared is “not Christian,” to which Donald Trump replied by calling the Pope of the Catholic Church “disgraceful.”

It’s not surprising, therefore, that a long list of Catholic conservatives published an open letter in the National Review imploring their fellow Catholic voters to vote against Mr. Trump.

Nor is it surprising that Mr. Trump is alienating the fastest growing block of Catholic voters in the country, Latinos. This hostility to Latinos, after all, dates back to the Cold War, when it led to the deaths of Óscar Romero and his fellow Catholics.

Best regards,

Saving the World from Ourselves, One Reader at a Time

One of the unexpected joys of writing op-ed columns for the past four years has been corresponding with and developing intellectually stimulating friendships with my readers. In February 2009, I published one of my most popular columns in the Hazleton Standard-Speaker titled “Walking through a College Campus.” It was one of those rare days that writers live for, when inspiration for something unusual, personal, and poetic comes to you out of nowhere. Those moments also make you mildly anxious because the most original works are usually the riskiest. Thankfully, my readers responded very positively.   Continue reading “Saving the World from Ourselves, One Reader at a Time”