It was a real short news story.
It was based — as so much political news seems to be these days — on a tweet:
I’m pulling this one out of my guilt folder because the item ran in The Hill more than a week ago. Still, I think the question — first raised by my friend Alan Cochrum, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram copy editor — is relevant.
See if you can spot the religion ghost:
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the only known GOP lawmaker to co-sponsor a resolution to block President Trump's emergency declaration, accused fellow Republicans on Saturday of "cry[ing] out for a king" to go around Congress.
The libertarian-leaning congressman urged members of his own party on Twitter to be "faithful" to the Constitution and reject Trump's plan to "usurp legislative powers" with a declaration aimed at reallocating funding for construction of a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"The same congressional Republicans who joined me in blasting Pres. Obama’s executive overreach now cry out for a king to usurp legislative powers. If your faithfulness to the Constitution depends on which party controls the White House, then you are not faithful to it," Amash tweeted.
Keep reading, and The Hill offers a bit of context on the border wall debate.
But the ghost? It just sits there.
That’s unfortunate, as Cochrum noted on Facebook:
If you're not familiar with 1 Samuel 8 and the story of Saul, you miss some implications here.
Exactly. We are talking about crucial information that readers need in order to understand this story.
In other words, there is a journalism issue here.
Here is that chapter, from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible:
Israel Demands a King
1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his first-born son was Jo′el, and the name of his second, Abi′jah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds which they have done to me,[a] from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, hearken to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle[b] and your asses, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
Israel’s Request for a King Granted
19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No! but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken to their voice, and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
What are the chances that Amash is familiar with that biblical story and was referencing it?
It was a real short news story — with a relatively major religion ghost.