How Georgia boy Ralph Reed shaped national politics

The man once called the “Right Hand of God” now runs the Faith & Freedom Coalition
Photograph by Landov
Photograph by Landov

God works, as they say, in mysterious ways, and for Ralph Reed, He did so in a Washington, D.C., bar called Bullfeathers, where one night in the mid-1980s, the former executive director of the College Republicans felt a divine whisper prompting him to attend church. He chose a congregation from the phone book and was born again the next day. A decade later, as head of the Christian Coalition, Reed shaped national politics. Rivals lusted after his charisma and savvy; reporters marveled at his seemingly unaging face. In 1995 “Time” put him on the cover with the headline “Right Hand of God.”

At the end of the 1990s, Reed turned his focus homeward; as chair of the Georgia GOP, he helped Sonny Perdue become the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Reed’s own 2006 bid for lieutenant governor was not a success; today he runs the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which he has described as “the NRA for people of faith.”

Back to the 90s

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue.