A divided Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as the nation’s new secretary of education, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie.
The news comes after senators in opposition to DeVos staged an all-night speaking marathon against her, hoping to draw out at least one more opposition vote after two Republican senators announced that they would oppose DeVos.
Critics have also risen up on social media, with #holdthefloor and #NoOnDeVos hashtags abounding. A chief concern -- that DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist and product of private education, has no experience with or interest in supporting public education. It's a charge her supporters fiercely deny.
In the midst of this political battle, many believers have noticed that DeVos is a committed Christian who prioritizes her faith.
Rev. Robert Sirico, the founder of the Grand Rapids-based Acton Institute and a long-time DeVos family friend, describes her as a "solid evangelical Christian" who is active in her church and "orthodox in her beliefs and personal commitment to Jesus Christ."
John Booy, another long-time friend, told CBN News that DeVos integrates her faith into all areas of her life and that it's led her to a "deep sensitivtiy to those who have not had the privilege she's grown up with."
DeVos and her husband Dick DeVos spoke at a 2001 Christian philanthropic gathering about their faith. She described a desire to be active in education to influence the culture and help "advance God's kingdom."
Dick DeVos spoke about wanting to drive better performance across all education. "Our Christian worldview, which for us comes from a Calvinist tradition, which is to be very much a part of the world and to provide for a greater opportunity, a more expanded opportunity someday for all parents to be able to educate their children in a school that reflects their worldview," he said.
Booy is principal at the Potter's House, a Christian K-12 school in Grand Rapids. DeVos has actively supported the school for years and Booy says she became passionate about reforming education while meeting parents there. The school opened in 1981 to provide a choice for families in the low-income neighborhood surrounding it. At the time, their public school ranked third-lowest in the state.
"I think that until you actually meet people who will tear up and cry when they tell you how desperate they were for their child to go to a safe school where they would be loved and cared for and be nurtured and would be taught to their highest potential--when she began to ehar those kinds of stories from the mouths of mothers and grandmothers, that's pretty compelling," said Booy.
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