When I was still living in the Chicago suburbs, every time Rod Blagojevich's name was mentioned, eyes were rolled. Who could believe that the great people of Illinois voted him into the highest position in the state not once but twice?
As you might recall, Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges in 2008. Now he stands trial, and the jury began deliberations yesterday.
Politico released a quickie from Andy Barr that leaves much to be desired. He quotes Blagojevich as saying his fate is now "in God's hands," before quoting more from the press conference.
Blagojevich said he has put his faith in 12 members the jury currently deliberating his fate.
"[The jurors] are the ones who will decide and make the decision," he said. "Patti and I have great confidence and faith in their judgment, common sense and decency. And ultimately in the final analysis Patti and I always have a deep and abiding faith in God."
But what exactly is that faith in God is Blagojevich talking about?
I would've expected a little bit more from the Chicago Tribune, with the headline "'Ultimately, it's in God's hands,' Blagojevich says." But the paper added nothing but a brief mention of the remarks, even though it's the focus of the headline.
The Chicago Sun-Times took almost the exact same angle: "Case is 'in God's hands,'' Blagojevich says." The paper uses the buzz words for the headline without explaining it further.
Flash back to 2008 and you'll find a few reports about his Serbian Orthodox faith. Here's one of the first ones by Kate Shellnut for the Windy Citizen where she gives some historical background.
As a child, Blagojevich attended Old Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side, where he sang and played in the orchestra along with his brother Robert, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 2006. Old Holy Resurrection, in Logan Square, is one of about ten Eastern Orthodox Churches in that area, catering to the city's Serbian, Romanian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Greek Orthodox populations.
Blagojevich now lives in Ravenswood Manor, but he said during an interview for his run for governor that he currently doesn't attend a single church regularly. Still, as the son of Serbian immigrants to Chicago, he remains an icon for the Serbian-American population and remains active in their religious community. Back in April, he visited a Serbian Orthodox monastery and parish in the Third Lake, a northern suburb.
Mary Houlihan also did some reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times on the reaction from the Serbian Orthodox community.
Remember this quote from Ari Goldman last year?
As Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Manhattan recently told his congregation, the Madoff scandal broke just as the scandal Blagojevich scandal was breaking in Illinois. "Did you ever see a reference to Blagojevich’s religion?" the rabbi asked. "Yet we kept seeing Madoff described as Jewish."
Now there's no need to reference Blagojevich as Serbian Orthodox in every story, but when referencing his quotes about his faith, it seems necessary.