House GOPers: God told us to stop Boehner coup

A plan to oust the House speaker from his post reportedly fell apart after a night of prayer

By Jillian Rayfield

Published June 4, 2013 4:21PM (EDT)

A Washington Post report about in-fighting among House Republicans reveals a tidbit about the vote to reconfirm John Boehner as House speaker, and how a group of conservative members of the caucus abruptly abandoned a plan to try to oust the speaker because, as they tell it, God told them not to do it.

Back in January, reports surfaced that a group of conservative Republicans were plotting to remove Boehner from his post over his handling of the "fiscal cliff" deal, which many Republicans opposed. Though conservatives needed 17 defectors to get rid of Boehner, in the end they were short by five.

Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., was one of the potential defectors, but he, like several others among his would-be co-conspirators, told the Post that God told him not to:

Southerland, who has previously talked about his role only with the conservative Weekly Standard, said he read the Old Testament the night before the vote. He read the story of Saul and David, as the king of Israel tried to kill the future king. David wins and, with a chance to kill the king, decides to spare Saul.

Southerland woke up convinced that Boehner should be spared. Others, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they, too, prayed before siding with Boehner.

“He’s not a God of chaos, he’s a God of order,” Southerland said.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Conservatives House Of Representatives House Republicans John Boehner Steve Southerland