The beauty and the inconsistency of O’Donnell’s faith

Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell told the Christian Broadcasting Network last week that that she believes it was God … Continued

Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell told the Christian Broadcasting Network last week that that she believes it was God plan for her to campaign and ultimately, to win:

“God continued to strengthen and empower us when, you know, His strength is perfected in our weakness. And that’s what’s exciting because you see, that if it weren’t for faith, when all logic said it’s time to quit, we pursued. We marched on because we knew God was not releasing us to quit. And now with such an important lame duck session you realize why we were to endure all that stuff.”



How should constituents interpret statements by politicians who see their campaigns and causes as part of God’s plan? How do you decipher God’s intentions for you?

“God continued to strengthen and empower us when, you know, His strength is perfected in our weakness. And that’s what’s exciting because you see, that if it weren’t for faith, when all logic said it’s time to quit, we pursued. We marched on because we knew God was not releasing us to quit. And now with such an important lame duck session you realize why we were to endure all that stuff.”

Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell invoked God and God’s will in explaining her political aspirations. Some find her remarks beautiful and others, including the majority of On Faith panelists; find it quite disturbing – some going so far as to suggest that O’Donnell is mentally ill. I find her comments foolishly inconsistent and a little bit beautiful.

The beauty is easy and should be seen by the followers of any tradition which teaches that faith can inspire us to keep going even when doing so makes little rational sense. In fact, comments about the role of faith to keep us moving forward in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds were made by Gandhi and King. Were they mentally ill?

We need to be cautious about confusing agreement with authenticity, especially when it comes to matters of faith. I don’t agree with much of what Cathleen O’Donnell has to say when it comes to politics, but her view of faith as critically important to nurturing people in uphill fights is entirely reasonable and true for many believers.

The problem with O’Donnell’s approach to god is not that she is wrong – neither I nor anyone else, including the candidate herself, can know if her current ascendancy is really the work of God. The problem is that she doesn’t apply here beliefs consistently.
If there is a God, and that God actually manipulates candidacies and elections, then Barack Obama’s presidency is as much a sign of God’s plan as Christine O’Donnell’s primary victory – something I don’t think we are likely to hear about from Ms. O’Donnell.

If everything is the handiwork of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-controlling God, then Ms. O’Donnell can’t choose to decide which victories are signs of divine approval and which not. Once she starts choosing, she actually assumes that she, not God, is the all-knowing one. Her only other alternative would be to invoke an alternative, competing, satanic power which fights with God and, when her political opponents win, actually vanquishes God. That position too will be a little tough to maintain for a true monotheist, as she claims to be.

Maybe God is bringing Christine O’Donnell success, but if so, that same God would be bringing her defeat if she loses. And if success is interpreted as divine approval, I hope Ms. O’Donnell will be ready to re-think her political views if she loses. If she is not willing to do so, then at the very least she should re-think her understanding of God or maybe the whole Christian monotheist thing.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • tomtildrum

    Who’s Cathleen O’Donnell?

  • rexreddy

    O’Donnell, much like Palin should have been vetted long before she turned into a one woman circus. All she has going for her is the Cheerleader style campaign that has worked for her ever since high school.She is not a child of God. We really need to get away from this always having to vote for the “least worst choice” scenario!

  • cecilg

    Thank you, Rabbi Hirschfield, for a well written and thought provoking post. Your comments concerning the importance of faith are right of target. I think you might agree, however, with my belief that faith in some things is more rational, logical, and more supported by evidence than faith in other things. No one can know what experience Christine O’Donnell actually had, or what prompted her pronouncement, but I think her statement reflects a faith that is on very shacky ground,

  • maggots

    Judging by O’Donnell’s primary win and her current poll standings, I would guess that it was God’s plan all along that Coons win the election.

  • FranknErnest

    there is no god. it’s man’s way of dealing with the unknown, fear, and despair. instead of using religion as a means for proving o’donnell’s competency, why doesn’t she talk more in terms of current events and what she would do to improve things for delaware citizens. i find her to be extremely shallow, really stupid, and fake. she’s a phony who will not be able to understand the complexities of our government, military, and foreign policy. sure she will be able to cast a vote; you can train a monkey, horse, or dog to “vote”.the real question is, will her votes be “independent minded”.will her votes be something that she decided on her own based upon her own knowledge, things she learned, and more importantly from all the telephone calls, emails, letters, and townhall meetings she had with the people of delaware?do the people of delaware want to send o’donnell to the senate — so she can cast her votes exactly the way some other senator from another state does, maybe someone she “admires” while she’s there? this woman is clueless about the basics, like owning a home, i.e. paying her mortgage, computing a basic home budget so she doesn’t get into financial trouble, keeping a normal job and not holding her hand out like some political celebrity.i hate religion, but this woman has failed the basics… she has consistently lied about her education and other details about her work experience, trouble with the law, etc. she is truly dishonest about some of the basics. i suppose dishonesty might be a qualification, but not the one i look for in a candidate.

  • COWENS99

    I have interviewed many people with a mental illness who identify their life status God’s will. Add this to her 17 years of lying about her college degree, inability to have a productive career, actually placing herself in her mental status deity with her resume.The sad thing is that according to the polls , there are a few mentally I’ll people in Delaware that support her.Her future rest in the success of the mental care offered in the health care bill.

  • harveyh5

    One can persevere and keep going just as easily without religious faith with simply the desire to better oneself and to do the right thing.

  • papafritz571

    O’Donnell is one more reason not to vote for anyone who runs on his/her sanctimonious beliefs, but not behavior.If she claimed that she didn’t finish high school, but has a proven record of successful and steady employment, lists her achievements while employed, lists her achievements in volunteer work, and lists what she wishes to change and how she will do it, I’d give that person a favorable chance.But when you champion your own wishful piety in terms of ridiculousness as she has done, beware. This woman is no different than Rep Bachmann who leads her supporters by charging that Obama is planning “death camps” by giving poor Americans a chance to have health insurance and health care.The truly God fearing people who actually keep the Commandments, don’t walk around boasting of their beliefs. They let God, Himself do that. A truly honorable and righteous man does not advertise his donations to the poor or needy. He doesn’t need the aggrandizement because he gets his peaceful heart from knowing he is doing what God has tasked us to do.What kind of person goes around telling the news media that she wants to outlaw masterbation? Please, what kind of person does that? As far as dabbling in witchcraft, well so does Palin and the Taliban Teabaggers cheer her on. Remember, her “pastor” prayed over her to keep the witches away from her. So obviously she believes in witches. Perhaps O’Donnell and Palin exhibit the same type of wonderment. Palin lies constantly and her protege is emulating her. I like Delaware and its people and I pray they do not elect this foolish woman with her many versions of how she lives her life. Supporting herself and paying her rent with campaign contributions???? I thought that was against the law! fritz

  • TELowe

    I found your article ironic since both of you are out of favor with the God of the Bible and He won’t hear your prayers until both of you repent and confess Jesus Christ as your Lord.As a Jew you have rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah and are presently in danger of going to Gehenna after you die and being judged per Ezekiel chapter 37 where in the Valley of Dry Bones all of Jewry will be resurrected in Jerusalem and prosecuted by Moses and sentenced by Christ into the Lake of Fire for rejecting the Prophet. You should read Zechariah 12:10 and know that He who was crucified fulfilled all the prophecies of the Torah and repent of your sins and come to a saving faith in Christ Jesus. O’Donnell is a Roman Catholic who is also heading to Gehenna and the Lake of Fire because she believes in Justification by Faith + Works, along with the worship of Mary and other human beings (Pope) to intercede to the Father despite the clear teaching of the Bible in 1st Timothy 2:5 “For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”Both of you are without God. In fact God the Father hates both of you (Psalms: 7:11 God judges the righteous, and God is angry [with the wicked] every day) with an eternal hate that will only be satisfied when you come on your knees and accept Jesus as your Lord and Master; when you accept salvation on the Father’s terms. It is a lie to say “God loves the sinner but hates the sin”, otherwise the Father would only send the sin to Hell and not people. I leave you and O’Donnell with a verse that is so fitting to your points of view; Proverbs 14:2 “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.” Both of you need to repent–today before it’s too late.

  • overcomerman

    God’s plan for Congress is described in my new book If we can convert Congress back to respecting Jesus Christ daily, we can save America and the world. Just think if Congress returned to having Bible study and praying for 3 hours daily before getting to the nation’s business, there would be far more reliance on Divine Providence, far less partisan disagreements, and less time wasted on legislating unimportant matters resulting in reducing the size of government for all.