I’m still taking in Charlie Gibson’s interview of Sarah Palin, but I am struck (again) by the total inability of the news media to accept the legitimacy of conservative Christians holding public office. Gibson, in the interview broadcast this evening:
Gibson: You said recently in your old church that “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?”
A holy war, Charlie? We jump from the task of defending America from violent terrorists and those that would destroy us to an American jihad? That by asking the congregants to pray for the troops, Palin gave her son and his fellow soldiers a fatwa to obliterate Muslims? It’s apparently impossible for an American Christian to believe in the rectitude of his nation’s cause, because in doing so, that Christian has imbued it with the spectre of the Inquisition, the Crusades, and all violent attempts to spread Christianity among the infidels. The ignorance behind that question is astonishing. Palin, not being ignorant, was certainly up to the task of answering it:
Palin: The reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words, when he said…first, he suggested “Never presume to know what God’s will is” and I would never presume to know God’s will or speak God’s words, but what Abraham Lincoln had said – and that’s a repeat in my comments – was “Let us not pray that God is on our side, in a war or any other time. But let us pray that we are on God’s side. That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie.
Gibson isn’t satisfied, though, and continues to probe Palin’s sinister, theocratic heart:
Gibson: But you went on and said “There is a plan, and it is God’s plan.” [shakes head, flutters eyes]
Boy, you got her there, Charlie. Only wacky, snake-handling, cross-burning nutjobs think God has a plan. I mean, don’t Episcopalians think he’s just toking on a reefer, eating Doritos, and he might get around to that whole salvation thing in a couple millennia, if his mom wakes him up? Surely no honorable Methodist would think God actually meant any of that stuff about baptism, resurrection, and the end of the world. I mean, that would so get in the way of Charlie’s Sunday morning tee time, if he had to be tithing and all that. I honestly don’t know how Sarah held it together enough to keep from laughing, but instead she gave this reasoned (if somewhat awkward) response:
Palin: I believe that there is a plan for this world, and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie. And I believe those are the rights to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, in my world view is a grand, the grand plan.
The very fact that this topic – Palin’s belief that God has a plan for the world and that she hopes it includes success for the United States in the war on terror – is a subject worth one whit of ABC’s time shows how astoundingly suspect the media has become of conservative political leaders who profess a faith. Palin wasn’t suggesting here that she was told by God to strike down Muslims and capture the Holy Land for his flock. She was simply imploring her church — not her state, her church — to pray for her son and his compatriots as they go to war. This has been done by presidents, by priests, by pastors, and by plumbers for the entire history of the United States. But for some reason, when a woman stands in a non-denominational church in Alaska and says such things, they take on implications of theocracy and tyranny that must be explored by the mainstream media.
What must not be explored by the mainstream media are the religious underpinnings of Democratic candidates’ views and plans for the country. When Barack Obama said at Saddleback that we must heed the teachings of Matthew by “thinking about the least of these,” no reporter since has asked him if God told him to raise taxes on the rich to care for the poor, or inquired whether Matthew was speaking prescriptively about government policy or as a call to volunteerism and private charity. When Barack Obama stands before a Pentecostal congregation and tells them that his faith plays “every role” in his life, no media have used their questions over the past year to ask if Obama’s faith would prevent him from going to war in defense of this country. When Barack Obama asks us to “pray that I can be an instrument of God” — a very valid prayer, but certainly more overtly theocratic than anything Palin said — the media talk of how refreshing it is that Democrats can take the mantle of religion away from those hatemongering Republicans.
You see, Charlie, Sarah Palin’s prayer that she might be on God’s side doesn’t really bother you and others in the media. You just can’t stand the idea that her prayers might actually be answered.
Read Full Post »