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Sarah Palin's Faith, and Mine--Stuntz

I didn't like Mike Huckabee's campaign in the Republican primaries, because Huckabee argued, sometimes explicitly, that Christian voters should support him because he's a Christian.  I wouldn't have voted for him anyway, but that sealed the point for me.  I won't vote for any candidate because of that candidate's faith, or lack thereof.  Often, I don't know anything (and don't try to find out) about the religious convictions of the candidates I support.  I'm sure I've voted for candidates with a wide range of religious commitments, including some--probably a lot--with no more than nominal religious affiliations, or none at all.

 

Though you won't read it in the New York Times, I'm pretty sure that most of my fellow Christians follow a similar practice.  We vote for and against candidates' political programs, not for and against their religious practice.  That is as it should be in a society as religiously diverse as ours is.

 

But there's a flip side to that proposition.  While my faith should never be treated like a job qualification in a political campaign, neither should its absence.

So far, in the press coverage of Sarah Palin, I've seen Palin mocked because (1) she prays and evidently believes that prayer matters, (2) she believes in a God who is actively engaged in this world's affairs, and (3) she wants to be the person God made her to be in the circumstances in which she has been placed.  These beliefs and desires are shared by an enormous number of religious believers, and not only Christians.  They would be politically problematic if Palin claimed that she knows God's plans, that when she prays God gives her specific instructions about how she should do her job, or that her faith dictates a political program that she is unwilling to disclose.  (Even if she believes her faith requires some political stances--how could it not?--that is hardly a problem as long as she is open about her politics.  Voters who don't like pro-life candidates can vote against them; the religious or philosophical underpinnings of the relevant candidate's stance shouldn't be dispositive.)  But I haven't seen or heard her come close to making any of those claims.

 

In one talk that Charlie Gibson quoted misleadingly, she made nearly the opposite point:  that religious believers should pray not that God would be on our nation's side in wartime, but that our nation would be on the side of a just God--that we would fight for good ends, and use the right means to achieve them.  Lincoln said as much, as Palin rightly noted in answering Gibson's question.  Pretty scary guy, that Lincoln.

 

If an overwhelmingly secular press treats religious beliefs like those as disqualifying in a candidate for political office, a great many Americans will be effectively cast in the role of non-citizens.  I hope that isn't the view most of my non-believing friends take.  If it is, I'm going to have to rethink my own voting practices.

 

Obviously, many of us on both sides of America's ongoing cultural divide have gotten this question wrong in the past.  (I'm sure I have.)  This might be a good time for all of us to take a deep breath, think about what kind of political culture we want--and commit to treating those who think differently about the world with respect.  In this campaign, that would represent a marked change.

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Comments ( 45 )

Where specifically have you seen these attacks on Gov. Palin's faith? This is not questioning what you said, I just have not seen this. I tend to read left-wing media, which is where I'd expect to see such attacks, and I haven't seen any. As far as I can see, no one on my side of the aisle is attacking Gov. Palin's faith in the terms you describe. If it's happening, I want to combat it too. I disagree with Gov. Palin on most things, but I agree with you that attacks on her faith in the terms you describe are wrong.

See Sullivan, Andrew, describing Palin as a 'dangerous, vindictive christianist cipher.' Or check out Gibson's misquotation of Palin, then the Washington Post's coverage of the misquotation. In three articles covering the interviews, they not only failed to note that she had been misquoted, they described her (correct) explanation of the actual quote as 'lacking in candor'. Find an article from the Washington Post, Boston Globe, or New York Times that even notes that she was misquoted at all.

I have noticed the accusations that Sarah P. believes dinosaurs lived 4000 years ago, she asked for books to be banned, she doesn't believe in abortion (true enough), thinks Iraq war is God's will, etc. These complaints as a whole seem to indicate an attack on her religious beliefs. Separately, many items could be seen as non-religious issues. But together they give me the impression of ridiculing a common enough Christian world view.

Personally I am not very religious, even though I feel sorta spiritual now and then. Maybe living in backwoods Alaska could bring it out a bit.

Roberta: If you look through, for example, Daily Kos there's a lot of diary entries and comments attacking or mocking Palin either for her faith or, in some cases, what the commenter incorrectly believes her faith to be.

As an example, a google search of Daily Kos for the keywords "palin speaking tongues" returns 1,590 hits; most quite negative and mocking.

There's also a very large number of attacks on Palin's views regarding creationism. True, some of these are about policies (such as discussing the merits of mandating the teaching of creationism in schools), and as such are fair game. But many are clearly not about policies at all. Not to pick on Daily Kos, but there are, again, hundreds of such comments and diary entries. One such is here:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/29/18319/0585

Note that it calls her a fanatic, argues that her belief in creationism means she will be unable to perform the role of VP, argues that her belief in creationism means she doesn't understand science and technology, and mocks her by making fun of the implications of creationism on drilling in ANWR. Further note that the diary entry doesn't involve any particular policy; this isn't an attack on teaching creationism but an attack on believing in creationism.

Similar stuff turns up in the comments to a lot of A-list liberal blogs, and as posts on a lot of fringe blogs. You could, of course, argue that they're too unimportant to matter, but they are out there.

I agree that we should be open to people with different views, but I don't agree that why a candidate supports a given position is unimportant. If we have two candidate, one of who is pro-life because they are evangelical, and one of who is an atheist who is pro-life based on a given line of scientific research, they may respond differently to new related issues that crop up, and by knowing their motive I can better predict this. Also, it's not very likely any new books are going to be released for the Bible, whereas new scientific theories are released all the time. It seems quite reasonable that I might care whether my candidate will adapt to each new theory, or will remain with the Bible.

The Professors point, as I read it, isn't about direct attacks on Palin's faith. It's about judging her because of her faith. Many MSM news articles bring up her faith in the context of her positions in suggestive, sometimes seemingly sinister ways. This is done via spin. Check the New Yorks Times, anytime.
Now, Palin tends to be more open about her faith than say, McCain or Obama, but I don't see her 'wearing it on her sleeve'. Articles about her seem to mention her faith in the context of her politics more than others.
Part of this is because she appears more active in her faith than most politicians, but the spin is obvious. Professor Bainbridge is simply asking folks to judge her on the sum of her positions, and how they are important to us. Not her faith alone.

Sorry, Bill Stuntz.

Roberta, the Charlie Gibson interview, the Matt Damon interview, both referenced in the article, are Exhibit A and B. For the rest, Google is your friend.

Roberta, the Charlie Gibson interview, the Matt Damon interview, both referenced in the article, are Exhibit A and B. For the rest, Google is your friend.

Where specifically have you seen these attacks on Gov. Palin's faith?

Andrew Sullivan: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/the-christian-1.html

Associated Press: http://able2know.org/topic/121874-1

Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2008/08/28/stem_cells_and_republicans/

Maureen Dowd (New York Times): http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/opinion/14dowd.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Aw, there's much, much more. Google "Palin" and "Christian", "beliefs", etc.

The implicit assumption here is that those who are not spiritual -- the materialistic humanists, so to speak -- do not have a faith. I have read dozens of books, articles etc. which tie in religious zealotry and conviction to communism, nazism, socialism, environmentalism, global-warming, Gaiaism, atheism, agnosticism and any
-ism you can think of. Time to redefine religion simply as "your implicit world view" which, ultimately, is faith-based about something. So then religions are like anal orifices -- everyone has one. It is like the soft ware program our brain runs on. Without some faith based soft ware, our brains couldn't function.

Soooo! This means every private person going into government brings with them their own mental software template of religious or faith-based zealotry of some variable intensity (that is, their world-view, whether spiritual or not). Constitutional freedom of religion means there is no way to stop a private person from governing according to the lights of his religion -- i.e., mental template of inherent beliefs, most of which were acquired after birth. Since every public employee brings his or her religion into the public sphere, and can't be stopped, there is no separation of religion and state (church and state yes, but that is something different). The Constitution makes no mention of such a separation, only "freedom of religion" and no "governmental or state religion" to be imposed. Now is that clear? Everyone proslytize as much as you want. No one can stop you since multiple religions with equal access to the public sphere are self-cancelling, and should cause no one any fear of being persecuted. Its called freedom of speech, and that was the point.

Roberta, the whole line of questioning Charlie Gibson used was based on something she said in Church. The AP had an article where they quoted her (wrongly, like Charlie) saying she thought the Iraqi War was from god.

There are a host of comments swirling around about dinosaurs (based on a hoax, but made their way into SNL). I have seen other comments as well, especially challenging her for having Trig and being pro-life. Now, I have no problem with people disagreeing with a prolife stance, but attacking her for following her own convictions and involving a minor child in that attack seems low.

"religious beliefs like those as disqualifying in a candidate for political office" If Rev Wright's comments and Obama's church can be used to try disqualify Obama, Palin's religious beliefs and church are fair game to be used against her.

NPR interviewed some talking head the other day about Governor Palin. He finished his analysis of Governor Palin by observing that the most disturbing part of her resume was her religious belief and fervor.

Of course NPR agreed. Seems that holding a political office and having a vibrant and active religious faith is the thing of nightmares for NPR. Wonder why? Might it be that NPR runs contrary to most conservative religious belief?

A persons moral frame work is either intrisic or extrinsic. Extrisic moral frame works are almost always based on religion. When a candidate embraces a religion then I have a standard by which to judge their past actions and an inkling about their future actions.
When I see someone who has professed catholic faith and is at odds with the leader and tenets of that faith, I have grave doubts about the depth of their understanding of the faith and the degree to which they have embraced it.
People with intrinsic moral frame works are too easily swayed to hold public office in my opinion.
It seems they can always find a situation where their situational ethics justify some horrendous evil.
A perfect example of this is the stem cell debate. Adult stem cells have produced nearly 100 cures and treatments, embryonic stem cells have produced zero. Why then is there a raging debate to get taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research? The only justification I can see is a desire to make a backdoor legitimacy for abortion as necessary for medical research.

I think faith is important in a candidate for this reason: i want them to believe that there is a divine reward for good, or a divine punishment for evil. Why? Because frankly I want the president to believe that if he does something wrong, even if he gets away with it in this life, he will suffer in the next.

So no atheists for me--at least that is my very strong preference. But, on the other hand, I don't care very much which faith, so long as you don't believe in things like getting 72 virgins for flying planes into buildings.

I notice that Roberta disappeared after her first post casting doubt on the premise of the blog post. Troll?

"I'm pretty sure that most of my fellow Christians follow a similar practice. We vote for and against candidates' political programs, not for and against their religious practice"

You obviously don't live in the South.

I often notice that a quality of a blog can be judged by the quality of the comments. The self-selection of the readers matters.

A.W:

1. I realized that your approach used to be once such a generally accepted principle in the life of this country that it would have been too trivial to bring it up.
2. I have not even thought of it in the context of this post.

Thanks for reminding me this morning.

Palin is the only one of the four candidates to have held an executive position, and so is the only one with a record to defend; and her record clearly shows that she's a pragmatist who is not given to shoving her beliefs down other people's throats. In this, she stands in contrast to her many critics, who do insist on shoving their disbelief down people's throats. I'll take her pragmatic belief over the dogmatic disbelief of her critics any day of the week.

It appears Roberta has been living in a box since the McCain chose Palin. All the press has done is mocked her beliefs, from her decision to have a Down Syndrome baby, which somehow makes her a religious wacko, to those who claim she wants to destroy the planet because she thinks it's God's will.

Examples abound. Here's one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDy_zcxUvgM&watch_response

And A.W. nails why most nominally atheistic people are so contemptuous of the religious: because atheism is definitely despised in this country. I've had people ask why I don't just kill myself right now, if I'm not living for the next life (forgetting, in their excitement, that having only this one to go I'm rather attached to it).

Well for those who stereotype those in the South (Scott), I must disagree. Get with the 00s. The south is much more diverse than you assume. The south has had a major influx of emigration from the north and west and is not the stereotype of the toothless uneducated redneck you evidently believe that it is. Indeed, many in the south are still yellow dog democrats that would as the saying goes "vote democrat if the devil himself was running." Doesn't seem to me that that voting pattern squares with the pro choice stance of their candidates and therefore blows your entire prejudiced stance out of the water.

But what would this hick know...

I think you're maybe a bit late to the party?
Here in Northern CA, Christianity is something a reasonable person just does not "do". It's perhaps not as icky as smoking tobacco but even that depends on which group you hang with.
It's not that Christians don't exist, they just keep it to themselves.

Seems the libs want to take the constitutional prohibition against using a "religious test" for federal office (meaning you've got to be a Christian, and of this sect or that to run for office) and turn it inside out: if you're practising Christian, you're unqualified!

Also, the emphasis on "foreign policy experience" pushed by the media would seem to end the historical predominance of state governors winding up in the White House. (and what foreign policy experience did Govs. Carter and Clinton have?)

Yes, "things have changed" now that the US has achieved superpower status. But making "foreign policy experience a neccessary condition for being a candidate for POTUS or VPOTUS means the pool of candidates would always come from a brahmin class of Washington elites, Senators and Congressmen.

The Founders never intended that, and neither do "the people".

Flyover country's not buying it.

@matta:

"If Rev Wright's comments and Obama's church can be used to try disqualify Obama, Palin's religious beliefs and church are fair game to be used against her."

Palin's religious views are not overtly political. Wright's black liberation theoology (God DAMN America`!!) is ALL politics. IF Barack Obama sat for 20 years in a church listening to a pastor who believes America is cursed by God, voters can decide for themselves whether such a person should become the POTUS.

"This might be a good time for all of us to take a deep breath, think about what kind of political culture we want--and commit to treating those who think differently about the world with respect."

You mean, perhaps, that we should "do unto others..."? Nah, that would make you to christianist for their tastes.

"If Rev Wright's comments and Obama's church can be used to try disqualify Obama, Palin's religious beliefs and church are fair game to be used against her."

Let's see, turn this into an election between those who believe the white man created AIDS to kill off the black man and that the American government is basically equivalent to Al Queda against those who belive in an active God and pray they are doing his/her will? Sure, I'll take those odds.

Plains remarks in her church about the war being a "task from God", etc... was her pandering to the people in the pews. She really was saying that God is on our/their side.

That clip was being played on the news and became infamous on the internet, and Im sure the McCain campaign took note of that. They knew that she would be asked about it if not during the Gibson interview, then at some time in the future. So they came up with the Lincoln quote as a way to explain it. It doesnt. Its not what she meant. But its pretty good spin, it sounds good, and fools people (like yourself) that want to believe the best about her.

To Scott: I don't live in the South now, but I lived in Virginia for 22 years, not counting a year in the D.C. suburbs. For most of that time, my family and I worshipped with a fairly typical Southern evangelical congregation. At least in the Upper South, those congregations are more politically diverse than you might think if you haven't seen them up close. I definitely believe that most Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike (note: I didn't say "most evangelicals," though I think that's probably right too), vote on programs, not on religious affiliations.

To Rignerd and A.W.: I understand that a candidate's faith is a relevant piece of information, in the sense that it allows one to predict a candidate's reaction to a range of issues. But most issues government officials face are not easily resolved by looking to religious doctrine. Government is like other professions in this respect: it requires a set of skills and knowledge that some people have and most people lack. Just as I don't need to know my oncologist's religious commitments to know that he's very good at what he does, I don't believe I need to know a politician's religious commitments in order to figure out whether he or she will perform well at the relevant job.

Even if I'm wrong about that, I still wouldn't vote based on candidates' faith. Most of my fellow citizens don't share my beliefs. I'd like those beliefs and those of us who hold them to be treated respectfully, and that won't happen unless I'm willing to treat those who hold beliefs different than mine respectfully.

To matta: I agree re Jeremiah Wright; I thought that controversy was both dumb and unfair to Obama. I should have said that in the post. Seems to me, Obama's relationships with Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers are legitimate subjects for political debate, as are McCain's relationships with assorted lobbyists, both now and in the past. But we should strive to stay away from public debates about the pastors in candidates' churches. I hear things in sermons with which I disagree strongly all the time; I wouldn't want to be judged by those sermons' contents. I can't see any reason to treat presidential or vice-presidential candidates differently than I would want to be treated were I in their shoes.

Yes, bmeuppls, how wrong of me to stereotype the South when I was born here, still live here, work here and worship here. Yeah, this speaking from personal experience is a real bitch. Sorry to offend you.

First off, thanks for defending religion's role in forming individuals' sincerely held beliefs. As a Christian, I grow tired of being told--sometimes in not so many words--to check my beliefs at the door (or law office or courtroom, as it were). I agree that an individual's religious affiliation should never serve, without more, as a litmus test. And I understand the necessity of rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's.

However, a candidate's religious beliefs can and should cast a lot of light on other positions s/he holds. And if those other positions contradict the basic tenets of his faith, there is a problem. Case in point: Obama says he's a Christian but he opposes measures to protect the life of newborn babies who survive botched abortions. There is a serious disconnect here.

First off, thanks for defending religion's role in forming individuals' sincerely held beliefs. As a Christian, I grow tired of being told--sometimes in not so many words--to check my beliefs at the door (or law office or courtroom, as it were). I agree that an individual's religious affiliation should never serve, without more, as a litmus test. And I understand the necessity of rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's.

However, a candidate's religious beliefs can and should cast a lot of light on other positions s/he holds. And if those other positions contradict the basic tenets of his faith, there is a problem. Case in point: Obama says he's a Christian but he opposes measures to protect the life of newborn babies who survive botched abortions. There is a serious disconnect here.

Jonesy -

It's pretty clear that you never saw the retractions, so I guess we could call you Exhibit A.

Boo hoo. She's the one who put her faith out there in the public sphere; she (and you) shouldn't whine about others taking the bait.

[i]I have noticed the accusations that Sarah P. believes dinosaurs lived 4000 years ago, she asked for books to be banned, she doesn't believe in abortion (true enough), thinks Iraq war is God's will, etc. These complaints as a whole seem to indicate an attack on her religious beliefs. Separately, many items could be seen as non-religious issues. But together they give me the impression of ridiculing a common enough Christian world view.[/i]

Yes, and for many of us this 'Christian world view' needs to be ridiculed. (I'm not thrilled with Obama's religiosity either.)

I find hilarious when Christians of this country feel slighted by the secular media... NEWS FLASH- The country is religious, and it would be easier to get elected if you were gay rather than an atheist. Here's a little an excerpt of an interview with Bush 41

Robert I. Sherman, a reporter for the American Atheist news journal, fully accredited by the state of Illinois and by invitation a participating member of the press corps covering the national candidates had the following exchange with then Vice President Bush.

Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?
Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?
Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.

Can you imagine if he would have said that about any other group of people.... Replace atheist with Jewish, or muslim...

Responsible media has to be secular if they want to base their stories on FACT!!!

If Rev Wright's comments and Obama's church can be used to try disqualify Obama, Palin's religious beliefs and church are fair game to be used against her.

Trinity United preaches Black Liberation Theology, which is a merging of Christian teaching and Marxism, the former being religious and the latter being explicitly political.

To the extent that one's religion or church mandates a particular political stance, it should be examined along with any other political positions that the candidate has endorsed.

Theology (that which cannot be falsified) is another issue, and must be treated as perhaps interesting but not relevant to politics.

For example, if your religion does not recognize secular government because God is the only legitimate sovereign, that's a problem politically. Your view on the Trinity or on life after death or transubstantiation is not a relevant political issue.

accusations that Sarah P. believes dinosaurs lived 4000 years ago

Do creationists believe that? Because Adam was supposed to have lived 6000 years ago. Dinosaurs in 2000 B.C.? With the Egyptians? That's a new one on me.

This christian persecution complex gets really old. It be nice of religous beliefs were not part of politics but they are. Every president since Carter has been forced to declare himself "born again" in Christ.

The word "faith" is equated with goodness in the political speeches of both parties.

And, in particular, Sarah Palin and her supporters vigorously present her religiousity as a qualification for office.

Having made her religion part of her qualification for office, how can it be outside the fair game of politics?

It be better if it wasn't. It's a big country, and a lot of religious traditions of certain regions seem really, really strange to me -- like the no dancing thing, what is up with that? But I'm not so arrogant not to understand it. As a catholic who married a presbyterian, I've had to defend some of the church's rituals to my wife. E.g, it seems perfectly normal to me when, at a funeral, a priest swings that ball and chain around a coffin that makes all that smoke. My wife shot me a look at the first family funeral she went to that all but said, what kind of strange voodoo do you practice?

But, unfortunately, its part of the game of politics now. You can't run on "faith" the way Bush did, and the way Palin does, and not expect your religious beliefs to be subject to inquiry. McCain gets a pass because he's never tried to hide behind God, so to speak. But Palin's evangelical christian background is a prime reason why she was picked as VP. How can it be unfair to then raise questions about her faith and how it influences her judgment?

@ Anna Keppa - you wrote : "Palin's religious views are not overtly political. Wright's black liberation theoology (God DAMN America`!!) is ALL politics. IF Barack Obama sat for 20 years in a church listening to a pastor who believes America is cursed by God, voters can decide for themselves whether such a person should become the POTUS."

I would argue that the playing field has been leveled with regard to the religious influence of our current candidates... if it's not Obama's former church vs. Palin's former church, there's always McCain's pursuit of John Hagee's endorsement.

It's unreasonable to assert that Palin's religious views are exempt from critique because they're "not overtly political." If her beliefs are of the Rapture variety (and therefore tied to the state of the Middle East and Israel) these things surely matter in today's global environment, no?!


So far, in the press coverage of Sarah Palin, I've seen Palin mocked because (1) she prays and evidently believes that prayer matters, (2) she believes in a God who is actively engaged in this world's affairs, and (3) she wants to be the person God made her to be in the circumstances in which she has been placed.

It's not mockery if it casts doubt on her ability to make decisions. The current President seems (to me) to have treated faith as a stand-in for expertise in many instances, and I think it's quite reasonable to challenge Palin to prove that she's different.

I suppose, as a Mormon, I should wish a pox on all Evangelicals who don't consider me a Christian. However, I doubt that Palin would agree with Huckabee on that point. I think we should leave it up to Christ to decide who is a true Christian. Matthew 7:21-23.

I don't fully understand the point of the post. Is the argument that based on the fact that the constitution requires no religious test for office that no one should use the religion of a candidate to inform their vote, or simply that this is not something the media should discuss, or that the media has been unfair in its discussion. If so I agree in general that the media has been rather horrible in most of this campaign. However, I will say that Palin's religious views are a major problem for me personally. I feel it takes a willful ignorance of science to believe in creationism. As a scientist and a person who believes strongly in the value of science education I cannot conceive of voting for someone who I feel has this willful ignorance (I probably would not have voted for her anyway, but this sealed the deal for me). I do not feel that this is the wrong position to take, anyone can vote for any candidate for any reason they like. I would say that no religious test for office would more be prohibiting a rule on who can run, than saying people should not consider religion when informing their vote.

Thanks for the reasoned and well-mannered dialog here. My 2 cents:

I'm also a Christian, love the Lord, try my best to love others and especially those I'm not inclined to (yeah, especially my "enemies" and by that I don't mean people of different political leanings). All through the new testament we're exhorted to love our enemies, bless those who persecute us, pray for those who hate us, to NOT pass judgment (i.e. "write off") others.

What's interesting about the "Rev." Wright flap is that the guy's preaching is completely un-Christ-like! The polite questions I have for Sen. Obama are...how did you honestly sit through 20-odd years of grievance preaching, including invoking God's curses (both implicitly and explicitly) on America, and not inwardly agree with the core substance? What's "reverent" about that? What separation is there between that kind of illiberal, intolerant, hate-driven teaching and al Qaeda's? Why did it take the public scrutiny due to a run for President to realize the hatred in that church? And how did the good people of Illinois miss the Wright connection in his Senate run? Or is the Chicago machine _really_ as corrupt as they say it is?

Yes, I think it's extraordinarily good for this country to heal its racial divisions and I pray that, whatever the outcome in November, Obama's run or win will further that cause.

However, in the meantime, as someone who understands the dynamic tension that arises from the exhortation to "be in the world but not of the world," I'm struggling to reconcile "The Audacity of Hope" with twenty-odd years of "God D*** America".

I think you're wrong on one point: whether Palin believes that when she prays God can give her specific instructions. It's really common in charismatic churches (former member here) to believe God gives "words" through other people that apply to one's life. It's literally a belief that others can "prophesy" into your life (and guide your decisions). That she believes in this is easily inferable for anyone who's been in a charismatic church.

To J Chong: You may be right about charismatic churches; I don't know that church culture, as I've never been a part of it.

To mynamehere: I'd feel a lot better about the press and blog coverage of Palin's faith if the focus of that coverage were her views on science. There is an anti-science (and anti-intellectual more generally) wing of American evangelicalism, as Mark Noll's work has made clear. I don't belong to it, don't like it, and agree that it asks too much of nonbelievers to ignore a candidate's attitude toward intellectual inquiry in general and toward science in particular. I don't know enough to judge Palin on that score; you may be right about her. Intellectual curiosity and a willingness to pay attention to facts and evidence seem to me obvious qualifications for high political office--though they are qualifications that many candidates don't meet.

I confess I've tuned out at this point, because I've seen and read too many rants that paint with a very broad brush, and that insult Christians generally. My church friends and I don't like being insulted any more than any other group of voters does. That may be a bad attitude on our part, and on mine. But it's hardly a surprising attitude.

Why are people so intent on bashing sarah palin Who cares if she not qualified, why do you hate her?