Did God pick Harry Reid’s opponent?

No longer content to play a role only in Bible Belt politics, the Almighty has entered the fray in Republican Sharron Angle’s bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.

So far, there’s no word on God’s positions on legalized gambling and prostitution, but he is weighing in on abortion and school choice. (Surely I jest.)

The top of a Sunday Page 1 story in the Las Vegas Sun:

RENO — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle describes her motivation for seeking elected office as a religious calling.

Politics, including her bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is God’s purpose for her life — one he has long been preparing her for, she says.

“When God calls you, he also equips you and he doesn’t just say ‘Well, today you’re going to run against Harry Reid.’ There is a preparation,” she said during a recent interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Moses had his preparatory time. Paul had his preparatory time. Even Jesus had his preparatory time, and so my preparation began on a school board.”

Now, at first glance, Angle’s comments don’t surprise me. For a Southern Baptist politician to suggest that she’s following God’s calling in her life impresses me as, well, exactly what you’d expect an evangelical to say.

The bigger question is this: Is she heeding God’s general direction in her life or saying that God handpicked her to unseat Reid?

The Sun story and an earlier Associated Press report provide little insight into that. To be fair, Angle appears to be cherry-picking friendly interviewers and avoiding mainstream media questions about her religious beliefs.

Nonetheless, the Sun used Angle’s CBN interview remarks last week to focus on her public policy positions concerning separation of church and state:

A Southern Baptist active in her church, Angle’s religious convictions have informed many of her positions throughout her years in politics. She believes abortion is a violation of God’s will and should be banned in all cases. She argued for the religious freedom of private and home schools. And she has said that public policy should support the “traditional” family structure as described in the Bible, in which one parent stays home with the children while the other works.

Note the scare quotes around “traditional.” Some of that space might have been better used to explain precisely what Angle means by a traditional family structure. Moreover, the reporter might have included the specific Bible chapter and verse that refers to one parent staying home with the children while the other works.

The story then goes into a lengthy exploration of “a religious political movement — Christian Reconstructionism — seeking to return American civil society to biblical law”:

The movement’s more extreme beliefs are based on a strict interpretation of Mosaic law described in the Old Testament and include the execution of homosexuals and unchaste women and the denial of citizenship to those who don’t adhere to Reconstructionists’ religious beliefs. Angle has never advocated those views.

Angle has never advocated those views. But what the heck? Let’s bring them up anyway.

Now, given the amount of ink devoted to this movement, you might assume that Angle has subscribed to it. Well, not exactly. But she does consider her candidacy a calling from God.

In general, the Sun story reports too many details as fact — about Christian Reconstructionism and Angle herself — for my tastes. In this kind of politically and religiously charged story, I prefer over-attribution to facts hanging out there with no sources.

So, there you have it. A Southern Baptist running for high political office in the home of Sin City.

Her opponent: Oh, he’s a practicing Mormon who said in 2001 that you can’t “separate your religion from your politics; it’s part of your personality. It is part of who you are.” He also describes himself as anti-abortion.

For now, though, it’s Angle’s faith — not Reid’s — that’s making headlines. And that’s just fine with the Democrat, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist who wrote about Angle’s calling from God:

Of course, Reid’s camp is having a field day with this. In hardball politics, this is batting practice.

There’s a reason Angle’s poll numbers are tanking despite Reid’s resounding unpopularity and Nevada’s high unemployment rate. But you can’t blame the good Lord or the Searchlight senator for it.

Given the subject matter, just a reminder: GetReligion is interested in the media coverage and journalistic issues related to this Senate race. Please take political comments somewhere else.

Print Friendly

About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Jerry

    For some groups, evaluating whether or not the impulse one feels to do something really comes from God is a well-developed area but not for all. I don’t remember seeing a story where someone claims that his or her actions were prompted by God also include a perspective on how people should approach such prompts to ascertain if their true source is God or something else.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby

    Jerry, I agree that further exploration of how God related her calling would be interesting and relevant.

  • Dave

    The quotes around “traditional” are justified in that the candidate’s notions of traditon may not match the reader’s. But we are then owed an explanation of what the candidate means by it, and we don’t get that, at least not clearly.

  • Mary

    People of the Atheist religion will never understand what is going on. People who believe in God feel that he is the influence in their lives. It is much more reliable than taking off on your own with no belief in anything.

  • Dan Crawford

    Why is it difficult for reporters to press these politicians on their statements?

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby

    Dan, in this case, it appears that the candidate is avoiding reporters.

  • http://jerstew.wordpress.com/ J

    Why is it that Christians feel the need to share that God has either prepared them or called them? I’m a Christian and I don’t tell people that I’m a buyer because God called me or prepared me for it. I think that “Christian” politicians use the “God” card in order to garner votes. Why is it necessary to point out things like that? I read a biography about William Wilberforce and his quest for abolishing slavery in the British Empire and have multiple articles about him. I do not remember him ever using any public statements saying that he was “called” or prepared by God for such a thing. He merely pursued what he thought God would want from those who claimed Christ.

    Well, I’m done ranting now. Thanks for bringing up this story.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby

    J, Did you have a comment concerning the media coverage/journalism?

  • http://bendingthetwigs.blogspot.com Crimson Wife

    The article did say later on that Angle was a member until ’97 of a 3rd party founded by a protegee of RJ Rushdoony. So I do think it is a legitimate question to ask whether Angle holds any Reconstructionist views.

  • J

    I apologize…
    I would be interested in how they tied the Christian Reconstruction ideology to Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, or Ron Paul. These 3 additional people thrown in there do not even associate with the same denominations…although I believe Huckabee was a Southern Baptist minister. Also, notice how there is an emphasis on Ron Paul “R-Texas”.

    There was no direct link to Julie Ingersoll or a description of why she is considered a legitimate source. Is she the “leading Reconstructionist” or did she just make those observations?

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    The headline could have been: Angle No Reconstructionist

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby

    There was no direct link to Julie Ingersoll or a description of why she is considered a legitimate source. Is she the “leading Reconstructionist” or did she just make those observations?

    I think that’s a vague reference to an unnamed “leading Reconstructionist.” It is interesting that, apparently, no Reconstructionists were quoted.

  • http://www.muchmorethanwords.com gfe

    Reading that article, I’m struck by how much space it spends describing Christian reconstructionism. A much better approach for the article would have been a lede that asks the question of whether Angle is a reconstructionist and then looks at the evidence that she is and the evidence that she isn’t. It’s a legitimate question (and it looks like the answer is “no”), but the way reconstructionism is used in the story, the story looks like a not-so-subtle hatchet job. It’s just plain lousy reporting.

    I also had to chuckle a bit at the description of Reid as “a practicing Mormon who doesn’t drink coffee or alcohol,” as if those are the qualities that makes one devout.

  • Frank

    Has anyone interviewed God to find out what He thinks?