Religion and politics have always been linked. No party has a lock on the faithful, but one party definitely has a lock on the non-faithful.
Because of this, the media and their Democrats’ hostility towards people of faith has increased in recent years.
But this week we watched as President Donald Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) for referencing their faith in their attacks on him. Channeling an MSNBC host, he referred to religion as a “crutch” for Romney; it is all a bit unseemly.
I will make a caveat with Trump’s problem with Pelosi’s “I pray for him” barb because it is a barb. What she is saying with this is the equivalent of a Southerner saying, “Bless your heart,” which I call the “Southern f-you.”
This week has been a weird flip-flop of attacks with a religious Republican attacking Democrats and moderates on faith. Usually, it is the other way around.
Alabama has its own battle over God’s support raging. Candidates for U.S. Senate in Alabama U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville both have ads on the air that reference their faith, with Tuberville stating, “[W]ith all of my heart, ‘God sent us Donald Trump’ because God knew we were in trouble.”
This is truthfully pretty benign political stuff, but it drew the typical politcial fire.
To make this a truly Alabama story, you have to add sports into the mix, so legendary radio host Paul Finebaum commented on the ad and, as AL.com reports, he was not kind to Tuberville.
“It clearly sounds like a new Tommy Tuberville,” said Finebaum, the iconic longtime radio personality whose show has long focused on the Southeast and SEC football. “I have no recollection of him ever bringing faith into a conversation.”
It could very well be true that Tuberville and Finebaum have never talked God with each other before, but why would they?
The implication here is that Tuberville is an opportunist, a fraud and is using God as a weapon to win a U.S. Senate seat. That is clear.
A simple Google search eviscerates this notion.
In 2010, Tuberville was the new head coach at Texas Tech, and he spoke in an interview about his faith and Church of Christ upbringing.
Tuberville told the Christian Chronicle, “There’s something other than football, I believe, and so we’ll be active in the church here. Actually, I want to bring in a full-time team chaplain here in our football program.”
Tuberville wanted these students to have access to their faith, even as they were busy with a hectic football schedule, and he wanted the chaplain to visit with players and give them “somebody they can relate to.”
The notorious Freedom from Religion Foundation has even targeted Tuberville football teams in the past and noted that Tuberville was doing this stuff at Auburn, too.
Former head coach Tommy Tuberville appointed Williams in 1999, one of his “first moves” as head coach, claiming the team experienced a “tremendous spiritual revival … moved on the Auburn team since his arrival. … players are getting baptized, carrying around Bibles and wearing wooden cross necklaces.”
Again, this is an unseemly conversation to be having. Barring some obvious hypocrisy, questioning a person’s faith rarely yields anything good.
Finebaum’s premise was wrong here, and he should probably apologize to coach Tuberville.
Finebaum is a legend. His opinion and comments matter. Without Finebaum, Robert Bentley is never governor. The coverage Finebaum gave, on radio and in print, to a Tim James joke about cutting the salary of Nick Saban in 2010 easily cost him the 270 votes that knocked him out of the run-off and let Bentley limp in.
Finebaum clearly has that kind of reach and die-hard Alabama fans didn’t take this joke kindly.
Bentley beat Bradley Byrne and then went on to appoint then-Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate which set off the chain of events that saw Roy Moore lose to now-Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).
Yes, all of that happened.
The Finebaum rub, good or bad, matters.
Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.