Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sharron Angle, the Bible, and Deborah

People outside Nevada are just getting to know Sharron Angle.

But if the political winds continue to blow in her favor, Angle might just unseat the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate this fall. On Tuesday, Angle bested a field of better-known, better-funded Republicans in the Nevada primary, winning the chance to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November. (Here's today's story from the Times.)

Angle gained momentum when she wrested the valuable "Tea Party" mantle from her opponents. During her career as a state legislator, she became famous (or infamous) for her far-right positions on Social Security (phase it out), Medicare (privatize it), the Department of Education (abolish it), guns (more!), and abortion (publicize its links to breast cancer). (!!?!) (The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life non-profit, has unsurprisingly endorsed her.)

Angle's web site is remarkably uninformative, but her facebook page gives a decent summary of her platform. Time will tell if her extreme positions will energize or alienate voters, but for the moment, Angle is enjoying a moment in the sun.

Angle, a longtime educator who began her teaching career in a one-room Christian school, was inspired to go into politics by the Bible. In 1977, Angle barely survived an operation to remove a tumor from her spine. During recovery, a friend came to her claiming to have had a vision of Deborah. Said Angle to the Las Vegas Review Journal, "Deborah was really the first woman politician."

Angle took her friend's vision as a sign that she should get into politics: "When you see God move in these kinds of ways, you see God is real [...] All of a sudden I was changed. My life had a purpose."

Deborah is arguably the most powerful woman in the Bible. She is a "prophetess" or judge whose story is told in (surprise) Judges 4. In early Israelite history, judges aren't simply jurists--they are potent secular leaders who guide the nation in the years before the establishment of the monarchy. Deborah is the only female judge; however, she not only legislates but helps lead the Israelite army against an enemy invader named Sisera.

Now, I don't agree with most of Angle's political views; they actually seem pretty crazy. But I absolutely love her choice of Deborah as a Biblical role model. It's spicy and literate.

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