Harry Reid Plays the Religion Card Against Sharron Angle

Senator Harry Reid can't play the race card in his race against Sharron Angle. He wouldn't dare play the gender card. So he's playing the only face card he holds -- the religion card -- as he aims to frame Angle as a Christian zealot holding extreme notions about the federal government that put her outside the mainstream of Nevadans. 

A Las Vegas Review-Journal article written by Laura Myers, entitled "Angle's religious zeal criticized: Reid campaign says opponent's comments show 'holy crusade' against government," recently slapped down the religion card for the Reid Campaign.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid's campaign criticized his GOP challenger Sharron Angle on Wednesday for telling a religious broadcaster that the Obama administration is violating the First Commandment by expanding federal programs and making "government our God."

"We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government," Angle said in an April interview with TruNews Christian Radio. "We're supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not our government."

Reid campaign spokesman Kelly Steele charged that Angle's comments show the Southern Baptist believes her campaign "represents a holy crusade -- a religious 'war of ideology' in her words -- against government programs like Social Security and Medicare."

Note the language in the article's title, where the reference is to "Angle's religious zeal" and not merely her religious beliefs. "Zeal" is code for "extremist." Terrorists are zealots. And so are those wild-eyed Tea Partiers.

Despite the beliefs espoused by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints against gambling, Harry, a Mormon, has been good for the gaming business for a long time. Back in 1998, when asked about the campaign contributions he received from gaming and associated industries, Harry said,

"Gambling is a personal choice," Reid answered when asked by The Tribune in 1998 if a devout Mormon could promote gambling in Nevada with a clear conscience. "I do everything I can to protect Nevada's No. 1 industry but I have no obligation to protect gaming in other places."

That same article notes that

[o]ther prominent Mormons have worked as top executives for legalized gambling conglomerates. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, was once the chief corporate public relations officer for Howard Hughes, who controlled extensive casino holdings in the gambling capital.

This would be the same Senator Bennett who lashed out against Angle after he was defeated in the GOP primary race in Utah.  Bennett blamed those radical Tea Partiers for his defeat. Angle enjoys wide support from folks who align themselves with that grassroots movement. You suppose that had anything to do with Bennett's remarks?

The gaming business has been good to Harry and to Vegas. So it's no surprise when the Review Journal tags Angle with the zealot label.

What is a surprise, though, is what Harry has said, in the past, about the influence of his religion on his political beliefs. In a 2007 speech at Brigham Young University, he made these statements.

Let's talk politics. It is not uncommon for members of the Church to ask how I can be a Mormon and a Democrat. Some say my party affiliation puts me in the minority of our Church members. But my answer is that if you look at the Church membership over the years, Democrats have not always been the minority, and I believe we won't be for long. I also say that my faith and political beliefs are deeply intertwined. I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon, not in spite of it.

So is Harry on a partisan crusade of his own? He continued with,

Growing up in Searchlight, my mother always had on our wall a small pillow case -- royal blue with gold fringe, with the words, we can, we will, we must. And the name on the bottom in large gold letters -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Roosevelt was the closest we had to a worshipful figure as I grew up. For my economically challenged parents, even though a man of great wealth and privilege, Roosevelt represented them.

He fought for the workers of America. President Roosevelt is the basis of my political direction. Social security is the most successful social program in the history of the world. A government program that helps the old, the handicapped, widows and orphans."

The Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps programs that put hundreds of thousands of unemployed people to work. Not handouts, but jobs.

Roosevelt tackled our greatest economic crisis with the 3 R's: relief, recovery and reform.

So Harry grew up worshiping FDR.  Maybe someone should tell Harry that Social Security now pays out more money today that it takes in, and that it has been the biggest Ponzi scheme in world history. And Harry might consider the case made by those economists who argue that Roosevelt's New Deal polices prolonged America's ordeal of the Great Depression. Oh, and while someone is at it, Harry needs reminding that the current administration, where he plays a starring role, is not creating jobs but is delivering record handouts.

In that same speech, Harry said that "[d]uring a crisis[,] people have only three places to look for help...family, government and God."

Angle's point -- characterized as zealotry by the Review Journal -- is that today, people are becoming more and more dependent on help from an increasingly intrusive, omnipresent, and omniscient -- in the minds of its minions -- federal government.

It was the man Harry grew up worshiping who said,

"The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government."
 - Franklin D. Roosevelt