Sharron Angle's Calling, Criticized

Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle has caused a minor stir by telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that she's running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in response to God's calling.

Here's part of the CBN interview, in which Angle, a Southern Baptist, says that "the reason [for her candidacy] is a calling":

Sharron Angle: "Well certainly my husband is retired. We have that choice now to do pretty much whatever we'd like to and I think the reason is a calling. 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 DC in the Ritz-Carlton but his residency is here in Nevada. He's supposed to be representing us and he's not representing us."

David Brody: You mentioned that this was a "calling". I think that was the word you used. When you got into this race back in the primary take us through that spiritually. You mentioned the word "calling" and in Evangelical terms we think of a "calling" as something that God has really put on your heart to do. Did you get that sense?

Sharron Angle: "Well I did but it's been a real preparatory thing. 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. 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 goes on to list all of the qualifications that prepared her for this Senate run)

This is pretty milquetoast stuff, considering how often politicians reference the role of faith and God in their lives and decisions. (President Bush, according to Palestinian leaders, said God had told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.)

But Angle's comments have gotten some buzz, and while they may be noteworthy to report for a variety of reasons, an interfaith religious-freedom group is now criticizing her for them.

The Interfaith Alliance issued a statement today from its president, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, warning that we should be wary of Angle's political career being driven by a religious impulse:

"Sharron Angle's recent comments on her race against Sen. Harry Reid being 'a calling,' and that she considers herself a 'faith-based politician' should be deeply troubling to anyone who cherishes religious freedom. If elected to represent the people of Nevada in the United States Senate, Ms. Angle will do so as a representative of the people of her state, not of her church. My guess is that God will be just fine without playing a role in either candidate's campaign. 

"Candidates for public office are free to talk about how their faith informs their thinking, but should not imply that policy position will be based on scripture rather than the Constitution. It has been my experience that when candidates intentionally insert faith into politics, the purpose is rarely to protect religion; rather it is done to enhance a political position."

Gaddy's criticism speaks to an intersection of church and state that's almost completely unavoidable: when legislators base their votes on personal convictions driven by faith. It's an internal psychological drama with a lot of gray area. Interfaith Alliance, however, clearly sees Angle's comments as a transgression across the line that's supposed to keep our government officially secular.