McCay Coppins

'God's Plan for Mike Pence': The Atlantic delves into the religion and politics of the vice president

'God's Plan for Mike Pence': The Atlantic delves into the religion and politics of the vice president

Full disclosure: We typically blog on deadline here at GetReligion.

What that means: Sometimes, I'm still trying to digest a story when I critique it.

That's the case as I call your attention to an intriguing piece on Vice President Mike Pence by The Atlantic's McCay Coppins (who has written about his own Mormon faith).

"God's Plan for Mike Pence" is the headline on the newly published profile, in which Coppins analyzes the faith and politics of the former Indiana governor.

The compelling opening:

No man can serve two masters, the Bible teaches, but Mike Pence is giving it his all. It’s a sweltering September afternoon in Anderson, Indiana, and the vice president has returned to his home state to deliver the Good News of the Republicans’ recently unveiled tax plan. The visit is a big deal for Anderson, a fading manufacturing hub about 20 miles outside Muncie that hasn’t hosted a sitting president or vice president in 65 years—a fact noted by several warm-up speakers. To mark this historic civic occasion, the cavernous factory where the event is being held has been transformed. Idle machinery has been shoved to the perimeter to make room for risers and cameras and a gargantuan American flag, which—along with bleachers full of constituents carefully selected for their ethnic diversity and ability to stay awake during speeches about tax policy—will serve as the TV-ready backdrop for Pence’s remarks.
When the time comes, Pence takes the stage and greets the crowd with a booming “Hellooooo, Indiana!” He says he has “just hung up the phone” with Donald Trump and that the president asked him to “say hello.” He delivers this message with a slight chuckle that has a certain, almost subversive quality to it. Watch Pence give enough speeches, and you’ll notice that this often happens when he’s in front of a friendly crowd. He’ll be witnessing to evangelicals at a mega-church, or addressing conservative supporters at a rally, and when the moment comes for him to pass along the president’s well-wishes, the words are invariably accompanied by an amused little chuckle that prompts knowing laughter from the attendees. It’s almost as if, in that brief, barely perceptible moment, Pence is sending a message to those with ears to hear—that he recognizes the absurdity of his situation; that he knows just what sort of man he’s working for; that while things may look bad now, there is a grand purpose at work here, a plan that will manifest itself in due time. Let not your hearts be troubled, he seems to be saying. I’ve got this.

Yes, there's a lot of analysis in this piece, as is typical of The Atlantic.

But sprinkled throughout the story are killer quotes, too, that get to the heart of the subject, such as this one:

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Hire more religion reporters — yes! — and other takeaways from that helpful podcast on the Godbeat

Hire more religion reporters — yes! — and other takeaways from that helpful podcast on the Godbeat

It's the talk of the Godbeat — that small fraternity of journalists who cover religion news.

I'm referring to a podcast interview that Sandi Villarreal‏, chief digital officer for Sojourners, did with two writers from The Atlantic.

Here's a description of the 33-minute discussion:

On today's episode, our web editor sits down with Emma Green and McKay Coppins — both political reporters (with a religion bent) for The Atlantic — to chat about the state of religion reporting in mainstream media and how The Atlantic approaches the Godbeat. We talk about the challenges and opportunities, we break some news, and we give a hefty plug for the Religion News Association.

Both of those Atlantic writers' names will sound familiar to news consumers who follow the Godbeat closely. Some GetReligion readers may recall that Coppins, who is Mormon, formerly worked for Buzzfeed. Just recently, I praised Green's story on two Mississippi college students who decided to join the Islamic State terrorist group as a "must read." (Of course, GR has offered constructive criticism, too, for The Atlantic.)

Among the fans of this podcast (which seems almost GetReligion-esque): Bob Smietana, the veteran religion writer and former president of the Religion News Association.

Speaking of Smietana, he was involved in his own GR-like podcast just recently:

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