Saturday, October 11, 2008

Code phrase 
Apparently, to Time's Amy Sullivan, the phrase "Bible-believing Christian" is "code."

Well, she's right. It's code for "Bible-believing Christian," you drooling genius!

You would think Sullivan would do a better job than she does with this hack of an article. After all, she's the author of "The Party Faithful: How the Democrats are Closing the God Gap. (Answer: Simple! Ronald Reagan isn't running!). And she claims to be an evangelical herself (though apparently doesn't understand it beyond the Wikipedia homework level.)

Case in point: Here's Sullivan on the "task from God flap from Palin's Charlie Gibson interview:

But Palin herself has at times consciously distanced herself from her Evangelical faith. When asked by ABC's Charlie Gibson about a comment for which she has been criticized — asking her former congregation to pray that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are "on a task that is from God" — Palin argued that she had been paraphrasing an Abraham Lincoln quote. In fact, she had used fairly standard Evangelical language in expressing a desire that human actions conform with God's will. In trying to separate herself from that tradition, Palin's explanation struck both secular critics and many Evangelicals as scripted by political strategists.

This is stupid beyond description. Sullivan sets up an absolutely false dichotomy. There is no contradiction between paraphrasing an Abraham Lincoln quotation and being connected to Christian tradition. It is certainly conceivable that Palin is not the first evangelical to quote Lincoln, for example. And the Lincoln quote is certainly a matter of publicly available record.

At the same time, however, Palin's statement is firmly rooted in a longstanding Christian tradition of praying for those in authority...which certainly predates the Iraq War. Indeed, it goes all the way back to Pauline New Testament writings (specifically, I'm thinking of I Timothy 2:1-2

"I urge then first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."

What evangelicals are praying for, when they pray for "those in authority," is precisely what Palin was saying: That we should pray that those in authority make decisions in humility and align public policy with the designs of a living and loving God. In other words, we should pray that our politicians and leaders should work to ensure that we are on God's side.

But wait: Sullivan get's even dumber:

And in her interview with Couric, Palin was, if not ashamed, purposefully vague about her churchgoing habits. "I don't have a church, I'm not a member of any church," she said. "I get to visit a couple of churches in Alaska when I'm home, including one, Wasilla Bible Church." Church-hopping is a common practice for many religious Americans, but it is relatively unusual for Evangelicals with children to shift among a number of churches instead of belonging to one stable faith community.

What do you mean "if not ashamed?" Amy? Why would you use such a damning, yet mealy-mouthed construction? (Imagine if I had written that "Amy Sullivan is, if not a child molester, purposefully vague about her child-rearing habits." Inappropriate? You betcha.

It is not for Amy to draw conclusions or inferences by clucking her tongue at whether Palin chooses to attend a variety of churches. I would imagine that Palin probably has close friends at a number of congregations, and occasionally chooses to accompany one group or another. Perhaps Palin doesn't feel the need for a "stable faith community" in one church, because her stable faith community exists in more than one church!

Sullivan's argument, such as it is, is just ridiculous. She should not be clucking her tongue at Palin and looking down her nose at another Christian's decision to church hop. There is nothing in the new testament that requires any Christian to attend one and one church only.

But Sullivan gets dumber still:

It is this Pentecostal association that most concerns and confuses the McCain campaign.

Sullivan basis this observation on...on.. on what, exactly? There's no sourcing cited in the article at all. Why? Because she pulled it out of her ass, that's why!!!!

As Minnery makes clear, millions of Evangelicals have accepted Palin because of her membership in a Bible church. But there is no denying that mainstream Evangelicals and Pentecostals, while political allies on many social issues, have historically had significant tensions over theological differences. The Evangelicals' swoon for Palin might fade if it turns out that she continues to hold fast to Pentecostal practices and beliefs.

Ridiculous. Yes, mainstream Protestants and evangelicals are a bit puzzled by the practices of charismatics and pentacostals. But those who are deeply enough ensconced in Christian practice to understand and articulate the differences between mainstream protestantism and the evangelical movement is probably NOT voting for Obama!

Splash, out


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