Menu

Politics

Former House stenographer who went on religious rant speaks out

It is just a few steps from the floor of the House of Representatives to the lectern where the president of the United States delivers his annual State of the Union message.

But former House of Representatives stenographer Dianne Reidy believes the journey which took her to the rostrum last fall began nine years ago. Long before Reidy commandeered the dais in the House chamber and began a religious-themed rant during last October's vote to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

Reidy's rant made her the most famous stenographer in the world.

It also got her fired.

"When I walked into the building for my interview, I knew this is where God had me for his purpose. Not my skills. But he would have me strategically placed at the House of Representatives and I never knew the purpose of it," Reidy said in an interview with Fox News, speaking out months later about the bizarre episode which startled lawmakers at the time.

Reidy tried to offer her side. She believed her hiring to document and transcribe what lawmakers say all day in press conferences, at hearings and on the floor -- was God's plan. Set in motion nearly a decade ago and culminating during one of the most important and watched roll call votes in recent memory.

"I still felt that there was more of a purpose in this than just my family's security and a great salary," said Reidy. "It was leading up to this. God was revealing to me this is the purpose that I was sent there for."

An inferno consumed Capitol Hill last fall. Congress morphed into a combustible tinderbox as the entire federal government largely shuttered for the first time in nearly 17 years. Lawmakers traded opprobrium in a pitched standoff with the White House. Tempers flared as the surly atmosphere spilled over into debates about closed monuments and political motives. Tensions erupted over one warm afternoon during the partial shutdown as 34-year-old Miriam Carey led U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) and the U.S. Secret Service on a mad chase through the streets of Washington and around the Capitol. The pursuit ended with the spectacular crash of a USCP cruiser followed by officers shooting and killing the unarmed Carey by the Hart Senate Office Building.

It was almost too much. The car chase was the last thing anyone needed as lawmakers, aides and journalists all dreaded heading to work each day -- sleep-deprived, angst-ridden and testy.

They weren't the only ones losing sleep. It was a fitful time for Dianne Reidy, too.

A few weeks after the chase, Reidy would shock lawmakers during the big vote -- jammering about God, Satan, a "house divided" and a "deception" that the U.S. was "one nation under God." But in her words, Reidy didn't initially comprehend why she wasn't sleeping.

"The Lord was waking me up in the middle of the night for about two weeks straight. I had that stirring in my spirit. Something was going on. He was doing something in me. So I was just getting into the word of God. Getting into the Bible every night for two weeks," Reidy said. "It was very, very peaceful. The scriptures really came to life for me, you know, speaking to me."

Reidy says those nocturnal Bible studies led her to the book of Revelation and Joel, one of the 12 books of minor prophets. Joel centers around a national call to repent and a reward from God.

"It was clear to me that this was about judgment on our nation -- that it was a warning for our nation. And it was also about God extending his gift of mercy," Reidy said.

Reidy says she wasn't sure how this would all play out until three days before the pivotal vote. It all came into sharper focus as efforts intensified to re-open the government.

"I was praying all day and the days leading up to it. Lord, crucify my flesh because in my flesh I cannot do it. I do not want to get up and do this. This is not my thing. This is God's thing," Reidy said.

On the House floor, eight stenographers rotate in 15 minute shifts to document what lawmakers say. Reidy said it soon became clear in her mind that her shift would come up during the vote to re-open the government and hike the debt limit.

"The Lord had positioned me for that perfect timing," Reidy said, noting she didn't know that she would speak before the House. And Reidy said when she did launch into her oration, she could have done it from a number of podiums throughout the chamber. She ultimately wound up at the one of the dais where the president addresses Congress and the nation during State of the Union.

Reidy says she doesn't remember much after that as she casually strode to the dais and asked Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who was presiding over the vote, if the microphones were switched on.

Reidy then began, stunning lawmakers milling about on the floor. Reidy's voice strained above the din, starting with "God will not be mocked.'

Chamber security personnel soon lugged Reidy off the dais and into the hall before stuffing her in an elevator. WNYC-FM reporter Todd Zwillich and Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times snared a brief recording of Reidy in the corridor. Along the way, Reidy shouted "This is not one nation under God. It never was" and "the Constitution would not have been built by Free Masons."

"I am happy to have that recording because I have no memory of what was said," noted Reidy.

The elevator doors closed as Reidy spat out one last proclamation.

"Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ," exhorted Reidy.

And it was over.

In the aftermath, Reidy says some people believe her when she tells them it was the Holy Spirit speaking.

"Then there is the camp that thinks I was stressed out from work and had a breakdown," Reidy said. "For those who don't believe that it was the Holy Spirit speaking and that I'm a lunatic, I would just say, what if you're wrong?"

Reidy said she presumed she'd be fired and even thought she may be arrested. That didn't happen. But she and her husband are now losing their home.

"It came down to a choice. Do I choose the worldly things? The beautiful home that we've raised our beautiful twin, eight-year-old daughters in? Or do I choose the Lord? Do I choose God? That's a no-brainer for me. I choose God."

And as to whether God's message got through, Reidy says she isn't sure.

"Only God knows," she said.