Heidi Cruz

Friday Five: Rachel Zoll, Heidi Cruz, 'The Exorcist,' Tennessee politicos, Christ at the Checkpoint

Friday Five: Rachel Zoll, Heidi Cruz, 'The Exorcist,' Tennessee politicos, Christ at the Checkpoint

Last month, we congratulated Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for The Associated Press, when she received a special recognition award from the Religion News Association.

A tweet embedded with that post hinted at another big honor for Zoll, and now, there is official news of that prize.

AP announced this week that Zoll is one of the winners of the 2018 Oliver S. Gramling Awards, the global news service’s highest internal honor.

From the AP press release:

The pre-eminent voice on religion for more than a decade, Zoll has led AP’s reporting on the subject, cultivating relationships with sources across all faiths, writing remarkable stories and mentoring fellow journalists to better understand the importance of covering religion. Her reporting spans from a series on Christian missionaries in Africa to a 2016 election-year piece on how conservative Christians felt under siege to a story about two churches in Georgia -- one black, one white -- trying to bridge the divide. Zoll’s sourcing led to AP being first to confirm on-the-record the death of Rev. Billy Graham.

Zoll, who has terminal brain cancer, is on medical leave. Big congrats to her on the Gramling Award!

Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: The Atlantic’s profile of Heidi Cruz, wife of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is interesting and revealing, with various religion-related details. It’s worth a read.

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Heidi Cruz profile in The Atlantic gives us a rare glimpse of prophecy fulfilled

Heidi Cruz profile in The Atlantic gives us a rare glimpse of prophecy fulfilled

I must admit, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was not someone I was following in the crowded Republican field for the presidency in 2016. So, I’ve been unaware of what a complex personality his wife, Heidi, is, and how she’s easily worth many stories in her own right.

The Atlantic just came out with a profile of Heidi Cruz that breaks new ground in what we know about her. It’s the first interview she’s given since 2016. There has been quite a bit of pushback about a quote she made complaining that her husband’s U.S. Senate salary is sparse — to the point where she has to be the family’s main breadwinner. Cruz’s Senate paycheck is $174,000, not bad money in an inexpensive city like Houston and we haven’t added in the generous bucks she pulls in from her job.

This YouTube video is one of many that rips her for being so tone-deaf and this Twitter feed really tears her apart. In terms of religion and journalism, all of this is a shame, as there’s fresh faith content in this piece, as well.

After an intro about how the couple met, there is this:

Since then, as Ted’s wife, the mother of their two daughters, and the family breadwinner, Heidi has helped see him through roles as Texas solicitor general, U.S. senator, and, most recently, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. In 2015, she took unpaid leave from her job as the managing director of Goldman Sachs in Houston to campaign for her husband. Suddenly, the curtain was pulled back on the woman who professed to love one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. While Ted struggled to find character witnesses within his own party—his colleague Lindsey Graham once joked about someone murdering him on the Senate floor—Heidi collected fans wherever she went. “Everyone loves Heidi,” a prominent Houston Democrat told me. “Every time I talk to her I think, You should be running for office, not your husband.”

Then, here is why we’re reading this piece.

Ambitious young women imagine choosing their own worlds. But to become a political spouse, even in 2018, is to learn that your world will be chosen for you. For Heidi, that’s meant enduring an excruciating spotlight, weathering tabloid rumors and the current president’s jibes about her looks.

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