As the 2010 midterm elections heat up, several Republican candidates recently invoked God to support their campaigns and attack their political opponents. From Alabama to Missouri to Nevada, God is being portrayed as taking sides in partisan elections.
Republican Ed Martin, who is running against Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan in Missouri, recently attacked Carnahan and President Barack Obama for supposedly trying to take away people’s ability to find Christian salvation.
“Part of that freedom – when you take a government and you impose, and take away all your choices,” Martin stated. “One of the choices you take away is to find the Lord. And to find your savior. And that’s one of the things that’s most destructive about the growth of government. It’s this taking away of that freedom. The freedom – the ultimate freedom, to find your salvation, to get your salvation. And to find Christ, for me and you. And I think that’s one of the things that we have to be very, very aware of. That the Obama administration and Congressman Carnahan are doing to us.”
Martin added that his victory in November would represent a victory for “God-fearing, honest, great people.”
Martin also claimed that because of decisions made by Carnahan and Obama, the religious liberty rights of Christians are now at risk.
“This election is an intersection election and I am deeply concerned that, left unabated, the current trends against freedom will force religion from the public square,” Marin argued. “We have already seen our freedom of health care abolished and with that an encroachment on religious freedoms; for example, Obamacare will make hospitals, even Catholic hospitals, provide taxpayer funded abortions.”
The claim that the health care reform legislation passed earlier this year will provide taxpayer funding of abortions has been repeatedly debunked as incorrect.
Martin continued his comments in a fundraising email after facing some criticism for his comments.
“I am deeply concerned that, left unabated, the current trends against freedom will force religion from the public square,” Martin argued as he urged supporters to contribute. “I believe this and said that the rapid and thorough encroachment on our liberties by President Obama and the Pelosi-Carnahan Congress is disturbing.”
Carnahan responded by claiming it was “shameful that Ed Martin would use faith to divide rather than unite.” Carnahan also called the attacks “baseless,” a “new low” and a “campaign of personal destruction and fear mongering [that] reveals much more about [Martin’s] true character than anything else.”
“My own Christian faith has guided me throughout my life,” Carnahan added. “My wife and I have raised our family with the strong values faith has taught me, including service to the community, standing up for civil rights and working to protect religious freedom for all faiths.”
Martin previously leveled religiously tinted attacks at Carnahan’s sister, Robin Carnahan. Robin, currently Missouri’s secretary of state, is locked in a tight race for the U.S. Senate against expected Republican nominee Roy Blunt.
Last year, Martin called Robin Carnahan “very, very devious” and said “she does the devil’s work” because “the devil’s got a hold of” her. He also referred to her simply as “the devil.”
Russ Carnahan, a Methodist, is son of the late Democratic governor of Missouri Mel Carnahan. Gov. Carnahan was a longtime member of a Southern Baptist church. Robin Carnahan, a Baptist, is the graduate of a Southern Baptist college in Missouri. Her expected opponent, Blunt, is also Baptist and the former president of a Southern Baptist university in Missouri. Martin, who is Catholic, previously served as chief of staff for Blunt’s son, Matt, who was governor of Missouri at the time and is a Southern Baptist.
Religious rhetoric has similarly surfaced recently in races in other states.
In Alabama, a previously long-shot candidate garnered the Republican nomination for governor in last week’s runoff election. Robert Bentley, a physician and state representative, ran ads declaring his Christian beliefs. Meanwhile, a group called the True Republican PAC ran ads against Bentley’s primary opponent, Bradley Byrne, attacking him for not believing the Bible was completely literally true and for believing in evolution.
“Most of [the Republican candidates for governor] believe the Bible is God’s word,” Bentley declared in a campaign ad with a thinly disguised swipe at Byrne. “I certainly do.”
Bentley, a deacon and Sunday school teacher at a Southern Baptist church, serves on the board of trustees at a Southern Baptist college in Alabama.
In Nevada, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Sharron Angle recently invoked God as she talked with former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed about her campaign against current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“I believe that God has been in this from the beginning and because of that when he has a plan and a purpose for your life and you fit into that, what he calls you to he always equipped you for,” Angle stated.
Angle made similar claims to Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
“It’s interesting how when you have God in your life that he directs your path and this is a time in our nation’s history when Nevada gets to be the state that really can make a difference in a nation and it’s purely because the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate resides in, well, he resides in the penthouse suite in Washington, D.C., in the Ritz-Carlton but his residency is here in Nevada,” Angle told CBN’s David Brody.
“When God calls you, he also equips you and He doesn’t just say well today you’re going to run against Harry Reid,” she added. “There is a preparation. Everyone in the Bible when you read the Bible you can see that preparatory time. Moses has his preparatory time. Paul had his preparatory time. Even Jesus had his preparatory time and so my preparation began on a school board.”
Angle, a Southern Baptist, has ironically faced religiously hued political attacks herself due to her past association with Scientologists.
As the November elections approach, it seems likely that such religious attacks will only continue to emerge in political campaigns across the nation.
In 2007, the Baptist Center for Ethics released the DVD and study guide “Golden Rule Politics: The Rightful Role of Faith in Politics.” Through interviews with clergy and politicians, the DVD “challenges the Christian Right’s political myth constructed over 25 years that the Republican Party is America’s moral party, the party of God’s favor.”
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.