O ye gods! WPost blazes trail in AP heresy (updated)

A reading, according to the Stylebook of the Associated Press.

Let us attend.

gods and goddesses Capitalize God in references to the deity of all monotheistic religions. Capitalize all noun references to the deity: God the Father, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, etc. …

Lowercase gods and goddesses in reference to the deities of polytheistic religions.

Lowercase god, gods and goddesses in references to false gods: He made money his god.

That is a pretty clear set of guidelines, methinks.

Thus, I am trying to imagine the conversation at The Washington Post copydesk that led to the following religious reference in a short news report about the amazingly quick political comeback by former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (which Bobby addressed just yesterday). Here is the context:

The former governor beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert Busch, for the state’s 1st congressional district. …

In remarks at a victory rally Tuesday night, Sanford tipped his cap to Colbert Busch and her team for a “well-run race.” But the campaign, he said, “was based on two very different ideas on what ought to come next in Washington.”

Sanford also sounded a spiritual note in his address, thanking “god’s role in all of this,” and calling himself an “imperfect man” who was “saved by god’s grace.”

Say what? Saved by the grace of “god”? Which polytheistic or false god might that be?

But here is the crucial question, worthy of contemplation by the Post desk that works on corrections: Does this represent some kind of opposition to the AP gospel? That’s the question that amazed, or at least amused, conservative scribe Marvin Olasky of World magazine:

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God’s role in Mark Sanford’s redemption story

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God — and South Carolina voters — decided Tuesday to give disgraced former Gov. Mark Sanford a second chance.

At least that’s the impression left by news coverage of the state’s most famous adulterer, who won back his old seat in Congress with 54 percent of the vote.

The war-size headline on the front page of The State in Columbia, S.C.:

SANFORD WINS REDEMPTION

The Associated Press used a similar headline:

MARK SANFORD REDEEMS CAREER, HEADING TO CONGRESS

God figured heavily in Sanford’s victory speech, with Yahoo News! noting that Sanford said he wanted to “publicly acknowledge God’s role in this.” (God was unavailable for comment, and I can’t say I blame him.)

I am pretty certain Sanford was referring to God’s alleged role in his election victory — as opposed to a role in Sanford carrying on a secret affair with an Argentine mistress, to whom he’s now engaged after his divorce from the mother of his four children.

Here’s how AP quoted Sanford way up high:

“I am one imperfect man saved by God’s grace,” the Republican told about 100 cheering supporters Tuesday after defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to win back the 1st District seat he held for three terms in the 1990s. “It’s my pledge to all of you going forward I’m going to be one of the best congressmen I could have ever been.”

Later in the story, AP included more religious language from the former governor:

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Buddhism and horse-race politics

Campaign journalism is a favorite of reporters and readers alike. I am not a fan, finding the horse-race coverage to be frustrating. But with just one campaign of national interest right now, it’s bearable.

The Associated Press reports:

It’s now up to voters render a verdict on former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s quest for political redemption, as one of the more unusual political campaigns in a state known for rough and tumble politics draws to a close.

Sanford, once mentioned as a potential GOP presidential contender, saw his political career disintegrate four years ago when he disappeared for five days, telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He returned to admit he had been in Argentina with his mistress – a woman to whom he is now engaged.

Sanford later paid a $70,000 ethics fine, the largest in state history, for using public money to fly for personal purposes. His wife Jenny divorced him.

Now Sanford is trying to stage a political comeback by winning the 1st District congressional seat he held for three terms in the 1990s when the conservative coastal district had a somewhat different configuration.

The race has had quite a few ghosts in it, what with Sanford’s public moral failings. He faced a tough primary and his entire campaign was walloped with the recent news that he’d trespassed on his ex-wife’s property, in violation of their custody arrangements.

And yet, somehow, he’s actually still a contender. Today’s election day, so we’ll know more soon.

So, what does this have to do with GetReligion? Well, tons of campaign reporters are down in South Carolina covering the race and I rather enjoyed Yahoo News’ update from the road (literally!):

Between stops around town, Sanford ditched his campaign driver and started hitching rides with reporters. He asked to ride in Yahoo News’ rental car and we zoomed off toward the next event. On the way, I asked him about his unorthodox campaign tactics. After all, Sanford was meeting only a couple people at each stop. The entire exercise seemed grossly inefficient.

“My view is, bigger the crowd, the fewer the votes,” Sanford said. “If you can just keep moving as an individual and you’re present–I don’t want to sound Buddhist on you–but you’re in the moment. You’re present with them, you actually can have a real conversation. You can talk about issues that they like, what they don’t like, in a way that you can’t if you have a crowd.”

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