Governor lauds his spiritual adviser
Gov. Mark Sanford made a point of apologizing to people of faith Wednesday as he revealed that he had been having an affair, and that his press conference was itself a consequence of breaking God's laws.
Later, first lady Jenny Sanford quoted a Psalm and made several biblical references in a press release explaining that she had asked Sanford two weeks ago to leave their house and have no contact with the family.
And so the governor's affair and his mysterious disappearance came to be discussed at the intersection of religion and politics, as politicians' affairs so often are.
In the audience at the press conference was Warren "Cubby" Culbertson, whom the governor made a point of singling out, calling him "a spiritual giant" who has been helping him work through his troubles.
Culbertson runs a court reporting business in Columbia and is a co-founder of a Bible study group there, according to several media reports.
Sanford also said he's been working with people affiliated with "what we called 'C Street' when I was in Washington."
C Street is a six-bedroom house in Washington owned by a religious organization called the Fellowship, which is credited with launching the National Prayer Breakfast. The house is typically rented at below-market rates to Christian members of Congress, including Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
Sanford said he turned to Culbertson and his other spiritual advisers five months ago, when his wife learned of the affair.
"And at that point, we went into serious overdrive in trying to say 'where do you go from here,' and that's where the Cubby Culbertsons and the others of the world began to help with, you know, how do you get all this right? How do you, again, be honest?" Sanford said.
The Senate chaplain said Wednesday he was "deeply saddened" to learn of Sanford's extra-marital affair.
"My heart was reaching out to his wife and the four boys," said the Rev. James St. John of Columbia. "I would like to think that he would find some way to salvage his family relationship. I'm not sure what the future might be able to hold for the governor now. Only time will tell."
St. John said he believes that Sanford is a person of deep faith who is genuinely committed to the Lord. "He just really, really stumbled in this huge, huge way," he said.
In Charleston, the Rev. Peet Dickinson of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul said what happened to Sanford shows the power of sin, which he compared to gangrene.
"It is a power over us. A human being is powerless to stop it. It is such an ugliness and evil. In our sin, we make decisions that are so beyond logic and reason," Dickinson said.
"It just goes to show why it would take something like a cross to deal with it. The cross is ugly and brutal. It is a powerful, powerful force, our sin is. It is a force that Jesus came to defeat," he said.
Although a sinner, Sanford is not beyond the reach of God's grace, Dickinson said.
Sanford is a member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church. A clergy member there declined comment.