Religion stories pop up in the most unexpected places. For example, the barber chair.
That's where U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz found himself over the weekend as the Texas Republican campaigned for votes in his re-election bid against Congressman Beto O'Rourke, Cruz's well-financed Democratic challenger.
But was there really a religion angle in the snip, snip, snip?
Believe it or not, yes, as noted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy:
Check this off as example 3,127,629 why the religion beat is never boring.
Also, give credit to the area journalists who covered Cruz's retail politics (which later included Texas barbecue, which beats anything cooked in Tennessee, as I'm sure tmatt will attest) for not missing the faith angle.
The name of the barber shop offered the first clue: It's called Kingdom Cuts.
The Dallas Morning News explained:
Adam and Shawna Rodriguez, co-owners of Kingdom Cuts, are unlikely small business professionals.
The couple told Cruz: “We came up in the dope game.”
But after several years in prison, Adam Rodriguez, 35, turned to religion, as did his wife.
“When he went to prison it spiraled downhill,” said Shawna Rodriguez, 34. “So we gave our lives to Jesus.”
And later in the story, there was this:
After his haircut, Cruz participated in a prayer led by Adam Rodriguez’s mother, Martha Rodriguez.
“To see my son discussing the issues with a senator after all he’s been through is nothing but God,” she said.
Though Martha Rodriguez is a Republican, Shawna said she’s not decided on O’Rourke or Cruz.
“The only concrete decision we’ve made about this race is to follow Jesus,” she said.
The Dallas paper did a nice job of quoting the family — in their own words — about their faith.
WFAA, meanwhile, did a piece on "The story behind the East Dallas barbershop where Ted Cruz got a haircut." Go ahead and chuckle over that headline, if you must. I did.
But then appreciate the television station's willingness to explore the religion angle:
Drugs sent him to prison twice.
“My turning point was when I was sitting in the cell and I was sick and tired. Just sick and tired. I told God to take over,” he remembered.
Adam began sharing his rediscovered faith with Shawna through letters. Both were raised in the church but strayed from it as teenagers and young adults.
“Adam’s letters were stirring my heart to turn to God through all this,” she said.
“Shawna, I was born with a hard head. I lived by my own rules,” Shawna read while thumbing through several of the old letters. They are pieces of paper she keeps tucked neatly in the pages of her Bible.
“I give all the glory to God. Thank you, Jesus. I’ll have to get back with you tomorrow. I’ll say a prayer for you,” she read aloud while becoming emotional.
“The pain that we have endured from the life that we have lived and to break free of it. It’s a miracle that causes you to cry,” Shawna added while wiping away tears.
That's good stuff.
Of course, the family's faith is a side note to the bigger story of the Cruz vs. O'Rourke battle in which Texas Democrats attempt to turn the Lone Star State blue for the first time in a quarter-century.
What role, if any, is religion playing in the Senate race itself? If there are any Texas readers out there who can enlighten me, I'd love to hear from you. If you have links to related news coverage to share, please do so.