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November 17, 2017

All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance during the Meet the Candidates event sponsored by the Grainger County Republican Women last Thursday. 

Photo by Ann Cason  

God at the forefront of Meet the Candidates event 

 Barbara Womack
Grainger Today Correspondent 

 RUTLEDGE – The religious world has traditionally learned the story of Abraham and his barren wife Sarah from their own reading of the Bible or from a church pulpit or a Sunday school class. 

Few would expect to hear about it at a political forum. But it was the theme of Congressional Candidate Mark Green at a forum hosted by the Grainger County Republican Women (GCRW) at Grainger High School, Thursday. It was a night in which God was in the spotlight from beginning to end. And it was deeper than a perfunctory “God bless America” one often hears during a politician’s closing remarks.  

State Rep. Jerry Sexton opened the evening with the invocation. He asked God’s blessings on the candidates and that their faith would be a factor in their decision making.  He also asked that God guide them during their campaigns. 

Green is a candidate for the 7th District Congressional seat in Middle Tennessee that is now held by Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn has decided to run for the open U.S. Senate seat now held by the retiring Bob Corker. Green explained how the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 16 influenced his decision to seek the office. He is currently a state senator and was President Donald Trump’s original nominee for Secretary of the Army before withdrawing his name. 

He said Sarah gave Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, who had a child named Ishmael. Sarah eventually gave birth to Isaac as covenant from God. 

“Abraham and Sarah tried to force a solution instead of waiting for God to act. We know what happened. Most Bible scholars consider Ishmael to be the head of the Arab world and Isaac was the father of Israel,” Green said. 

“I did not force a solution. The answer came when Bob Corker stepped down and Marsha Blackburn stepped in,” he said. 

Almost every candidate who followed invoked their religious faith and how it factors in to their political activity. 

The event closed with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who is seeking the 2nd District Congressional seat being vacated by the retiring John J. Duncan Jr. 

“I want to thank Jerry Sexton for that invocation. I hope you will support me. I need your vote, and my family needs your prayers,” Burchett said. 

The program drew about 120 people, said Jennifer Little of the GCRW. 

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock of Lenoir City, also a candidate for Duncan’s seat, had planned to attend. His campaign manager Greg Butcher, said Matlock was returning from Florida, and his plane was late arriving back in Knoxville. 

Vito Sagliano of Knoxville, another candidate for Congress, also spoke. 

Gubernatorial candidates State Sen. Mae Beavers, Nashville businessman Bill Lee, Kay White of Kingsport and Lonnie Miller of Fountain City also made remarks. 

Three other candidates for governor, U.S. Rep Diane Black, State House Speaker Beth Harwell and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd were unable to attend due to prior commitments, Little said.

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