Daryl Metcalfe’s Bad Religion

He uses his faith to silence rivals, but not to help the needy. That's not what Jesus would do.


Let’s give this to Daryl Metcalfe: If you wanted to create a religious-right bogeyman that almost perfectly fit the fevered nightmares of liberals, he’d pretty closely fit the bill.

Metcalfe is the Pennsylvania Republican probably best known for silencing openly gay Rep. Brian Sims on the House floor last year because Sims’ comments in favor of gay marriage would’ve been “against God’s law.”

“I’m a Christian,” Metcalfe said at the time. “Based on the command of Jesus Christ, of Almighty God, I love my fellow man. I work to protect their liberties.”

Unless, of course, his fellow man is an immigrant. Or somebody trying to help an immigrant. Or, worse yet, someone trying to help an immigrant child. Then Metcalfe’s love somehow disappears.

As you may know, thousands of Latin American children have been pouring across the United States’ southern border this year — some of those children have even ended up in Pennsylvania for safe harbor until the federal government can dispose of their cases.

Metcalfe wants to close the state to those children. He’s introducing a bill that would prohibit state-owned facilities from cooperating with federal authorities to take care of any of them. And the same bill would suspend the license of any state-licensed institution that tried to help.

In Metcalfe’s vision, Pennsylvania isn’t just unwelcoming. It’s aggressively, punitively unwelcoming.

Metcalfe, of course, has his reasons.

“Pennsylvania residents have expressed concerns that unaccompanied illegal alien youth entering the Commonwealth could be carrying contagious diseases and that older youth could be members of violent gangs,” he says.

“At this time there are approximately 500 unaccompanied illegal alien youth residing in Pennsylvania. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, to educate these youth in the state’s public school system could cost Pennsylvanians approximately $11 million,” he says.

Never mind that each of those assertions is almost certainly wrong. I can’t get Metcalfe’s old quote out of my head.

“I’m a Christian. Based on the command of Jesus Christ, of Almighty God, I love my fellow man. I work to protect their liberties.”

And then I look at Metcalfe’s proposed law, and remember this:

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

That’s from the New Testament book of Matthew. The words simple, unambiguous, and they look nothing at all like Metcalfe’s politics. And try as I might, I find nothing in the Bible about Jesus turning his back on wandering children, or punishing the people who helped those children.

Metcalfe proclaims that his faith guides his political decision-making, but that seems to be true mostly in cases where he can silence political or theological rivals. When it comes to following the dictates of Christianity to show hospitality and compassion to strangers, to the sick, and to the needy, well, his faith isn’t quite as much in evidence.

And that’s too bad. I’m not a fan of Daryl Metcalfe. But Pennsylvania might be a nicer place to live if he actually applied his Christianity a little more consistently. We can only pray it happens someday.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.