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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's Happened To The Separation of Church & State?

Sharron Angle Says Democrats' Agenda Violates 'The First Commandment,' Frames Reid As Dark Overlord



Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has long seen religious meaning behind her candidacy, going so far as to tell supporters that God was behind her rise from political obscurity, guiding her path to Congress.

On Wednesday, the celestial threads took another turn towards the bizarre, as Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston uncovered an interview in which the Tea Party favorite said that actions of the federal government were a "violation of the First Commandment" -- not amendment, commandment.

"I know people are very frightened about what's going on in this country," Angle said in an interview that originally aired on April 21 with TruNews Christian Radio's Rick Wile. "And these programs that you mentioned -- that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward -- are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that's really what's happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We're supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government. And you've just identified the real crux of the problem."

This statement alone was a rather glaring reflection of just how infused religion is in Angle's political mindset. The Nevada Republican has already made major waves arguing in opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

But once Ralston published the exchange, things grew even more bizarre. Angle's communications director, Jarrod Agen -- who was hired, it should be noted, less than 24 hours ago -- sent a clarifying statement to the reporter that was dipped even deeper in religious tones, framing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as a sort of dark overlord.

"Only the supreme arrogance of Senator Reid would believe that he has a divine right to rule over mere mortals by ramming through Obamacare, billions in reckless spending, and yes, buying cocaine for monkeys," Agen said. "The fact is, Reid has acted like he's all-powerful and accountable to no one. People are frustrated because, like Sharron, they understand Washington has become a giant, unseen, omnipotent force whose presence is felt in all our lives whether we like it or not."

The statement provoked a slew of seemingly shocked tweets from Ralston who took the response as sincere. Only after the fact did the campaign get in touch with him to insist the statement was facetious.

Asked to clarify whether, in fact, he was being sincere or sarcastic, Agen said there was "a little of both in there."

In all, the entire episode seems likely to end up being just another footnote in a Senate candidacy that has been filled with incredible oddities and dramatics. But context remains important. It's not unusual for a candidate to invoke his or her religion in the course of an election. Harry Reid himself has said it's difficult to "separate your religion from your politics, its part of your personality. It is part of who you are."

It's rare, however, for a candidate to insist that their candidacy is imbued with religion itself.

Angle has certainly raised the bar for envelop-pushing statements. Whether those following the campaign will adjust their expectations and coverage as a result (or continue to call a spade a spade) will matter as Election Day approaches.


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