Unless you live in Georgia, you probably don’t know who Lucy McBath is. Yet, she is the Democratic nominee for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, facing incumbent Karen Handel.
On July 24, she beat another Democrat to be the party's nominee. She has an appealing story and several publications have tried to tell it. But only one mentioned her faith, and that was Mother Jones.
On a Friday morning in December, a freak storm has sent snow billowing down the wide streets of Marietta, Georgia. But despite icy roads and an accident-related traffic jam near her house, Lucy McBath comes walking through the ’50s-style double doors of the Marietta Diner, a smile spread across her face.
As she settles into a booth beneath Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling, it’s clear no storm will stop her. “I have 100 percent security in the fact that God will lead me where I need to be,” she tells me. “I will continue to go through any door that he opens for me because that will allow me to make the best and the most important impact for serving people.”
The past five years of McBath’s life have been a series of doors opened by a terrible tragedy. The day after Thanksgiving in 2012, her 17-year-old son was shot while sitting in a car with a group of friends at a gas station following a dispute with another driver over the volume of the teens’ music. The gunman, a 45-year-old white man named Michael Dunn, fired 10 shots at the teenagers. Jordan Davis was hit three times. His best friend tried to pull him away from the gunfire, but Jordan’s body just fell into his lap. He died at the scene.
The teens were black, and the shooting happened nine months after another black teen, Trayvon Martin, was gunned down by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman, causing national outrage. The week after Jordan’s death, McBath’s ex-husband got a text from Trayvon’s father: “I just want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in.”
A deeply religious woman, McBath spent the next year seeking justice for the son she had named for a biblical crossing of the Jordan River.
What’s fascinating about this woman is how her grief helped her to become a national spokeswoman against gun violence. In 2015, she appeared in a documentary co-starring a conservative evangelical Protestant minister.
And she’s become particularly important in helping reach white evangelical constituencies traditionally hostile to gun control. In the 2015 documentary The Armor of Light, she is magnetic, at turns heartbroken and crusading. In one particularly powerful scene, tears stream down her face as she pleads with evangelical minister Rob Schenck, a well-known anti-abortion activist but also a believer in stricter gun control, to help spread their shared message to the Christian community: “I know it’s going to be hard for you, and I know that there may be people who don’t follow you anymore because of the stand that you take, but isn’t it far better to stand before God and know that you’ve done everything in your power to do what you know in your heart is right?”
The one thing missing here are the specifics of McBath’s faith. If she attends a church, it’s not featured or mentioned here. Grief seems to have shadowed her life. Two years before Jordan was born, she lost another son in 1993.
A quote from her pastor or Schenck or someone with some kind of spiritual ties would have helped give us a greater picture of this woman. With Democratic women (of color) like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and McBath winning primaries, more needs to be written as to what makes these candidates spiritually tick. Media types seem to assume Republicans have some kind of God connection but Democrats? Not so much.
I have a feeling Lucy McBath is going to be in the media many times, especially if she wins an in November. I hope more reporters dig a lot more into her faith and how she came by it. It should make quite a story.