OPINION: Divine inspiration, the never-ending political campaign

U.S. Sen. David Perdue speaks during the Republican National Committee's Victory Rally in Valdosta on Dec. 5, 2020. It’s a common theme: Politicians often seek the Lord’s career advice. And then they let folks know that they did. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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U.S. Sen. David Perdue speaks during the Republican National Committee's Victory Rally in Valdosta on Dec. 5, 2020. It’s a common theme: Politicians often seek the Lord’s career advice. And then they let folks know that they did. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Recently, a former state representative ruminated whether he should run for his old seat, but after “prayerful consideration” said he would not because raising his family was more important.

I totally get it; raising a family trumps politics. But it got me to do my own ruminating: Doesn’t God have more important matters to concern Himself with than Georgia state House races — like making sure the Bama quarterback tosses an interception at the end of the national championship game?

It’s a common theme: Politicians often seek the Lord’s career advice. And then they let folks know that they did.

Last weekend, David Perdue, the former U.S. senator who got Ossoffed from office last year, explained to a roomful of fellow Republicans why he was running against Gov. Brian Kemp in this year’s primary.

Perdue has jumped all in on Donald Trump’s crusade of grievance and conspiracy. Gov. Shotgun Kemp is Trump’s Public Enemy #1 because he did not cook the state’s electoral books for the former president. And being a Trump toady is Perdue’s ticket back into the political game and a way of avoiding the blissful obscurity of being just another multimillionaire living on Sea Island. To help his cause, Perdue has contacted God as an adviser.

“I looked at this all year. Our phone rang off the hook. Our text messages, emails just blew up from people all over the state,” Perdue told the GOP group. “Bonnie and I prayed about it, then Stacey Abrams got in. We said, ‘We don’t know how to do this. We don’t know if we’re going to win. But we’ve got to do this.’”

Apparently, God responded that Kemp was a RINO in need of primarying.

Back in 2016, Perdue’s call to prayer got some unholy backlash when he joked at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference that Americans should pray for all leaders, even that Barack Obama fellow. “But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray,” he added. “We should pray like Psalms 109:8 says. It says, ‘Let his days be few; and let another have his office.’ ”

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Then-Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, center, walks with President Donald Trump, right, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., as Trump arrives for a rally Nov. 4, 2018, in Macon. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: John Bazemore

Then-Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, center, walks with President Donald Trump, right, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., as Trump arrives for a rally Nov. 4, 2018, in Macon. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: John Bazemore

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Then-Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, center, walks with President Donald Trump, right, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., as Trump arrives for a rally Nov. 4, 2018, in Macon. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: John Bazemore

Credit: John Bazemore

The quip got chuckles but it turns out the Psalm passage continues, “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg.”

Ouch, that’s some harsh Old Testament vinegar.

Mentioning God is generally a winning political strategy, especially for the GOP. A 2018 Pew Research poll found that 70% of Republicans believe in God, as described in the Bible, while 45% of Democrats do. Dems are more likely than Republicans to believe in “another kind of higher power” — 39% vs. 23%.

Like Perdue, current Republican congressman Jody Hice is primarying a Georgia incumbent: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the other Georgia incumbent on Trump’s hit list. Before jumping into that race, Hice said he and his wife would “prayerfully consider our next steps.”

Hice, a preacher by training, has said that prayer is needed to combat the “harmful” and “hurtful” divisiveness that has afflicted Congress. He’s also a pol who was all-in on the Stop the Steal mayhem and is now a purveyor of Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen. That would make Jody Hice the ultimate fox in a henhouse if victorious in his bid for secretary of state.

Another prayerful pol is former congressman Paul Broun, an Athens Republican who preceded Hice in that seat. Broun is perhaps best known for his comment that the theory of evolution is a lie “from the pit of hell.”

In 2013, he said he was “prayerfully considering” running for U.S. Senate when then-Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced he was tired of the partisanship and was stepping down. “Prayerfully considering” is poli-speak for, “Darn right, Bubba, I’m sure as heck running!”

Broun ran for the Senate seat in 2014 and lost. Badly. In 2015, he again said he would “prayerfully consider” any opportunities that might arise. In 2016, he moved to another congressional district and was beaten handily by incumbent Republican Doug Collins.

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Former congressman Paul Broun and an AR-15, a tool to keep at bay the “looting hordes from Atlanta.” (From the Broun campaign video)

Former congressman Paul Broun and an AR-15, a tool to keep at bay the “looting hordes from Atlanta.” (From the Broun campaign video)

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Former congressman Paul Broun and an AR-15, a tool to keep at bay the “looting hordes from Atlanta.” (From the Broun campaign video)

In 2020, Collins moved on and Broun again raised his hand, and his AR-15, raising fears of the “looting hordes from Atlanta.” He failed to make the Republican primary runoff.

Undeterred, Broun is running again this year for the seat that Hice is vacating.

Now it’s not just Republicans seeking God’s guidance when contemplating their political future. During her surprise announcement last year that she would not run for a second term, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she and her husband prayed before deciding to pull the rip cord. Crime, COVID and a dysfunctional city also no doubt had a say.

Nolan English, a pastor who lives in Cascade Heights, was a bit player in the race for mayor. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he “reluctantly, yet prayerfully” jumped into the race because the leading candidates seemed to be in it for themselves.

He gained about only 100 votes. One guesses God told him, “Sorry, you’re a nice fellow, but I’ve been working too hard trying to keep that Paul Broun from being elected to focus on you.”

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