In earlier posts (here, here, and here), I spoke at length about the spiritual roots of Barack Obama. I described a Sunday morning at Trinity UCC in Chicago, the congregation that Rev. Jeremiah Wright nurtured for 36 years, and the spiritual home of Barack and Michelle Obama and their daughters from the time of Barack’s conversion to the Christian faith nearly 20 years ago up until a few months ago. My point: the Obama family’s spiritual home, despite ill-informed opinion to the contrary, is fundamentally evangelical in outlook and emphasis. The only reason someone might deny it is for partisan political purposes.
Sarah Palin is also an evangelical Christian. Her politics are a little bit different than Barack Obama’s, but not the fundamental structure of her religious faith. In particular, she has been active in FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Just watch how partisan opinion-makers will deal with this. They will paint FCA in extreme, wacko colors. This is nonsense.
One of my friends, a Lutheran pastor in the ELCA - that’s the liberal branch of Lutheranism in the United States – is a product of FCA. Along with his wife, he is a new church planter. Surprise, surprise. That’s how things work in American Christianity, and in politics. The evangelical movement injects its peculiar pathologies into the larger context. But it also injects its idealism and faithfulness into grand and wonderful causes.
Sarah Palin’s became an on-fire Christian in an Assemblies of God congregation (AOG is a large Pentecostal denomination). She and her family currently attend the Wasilla Bible Church - "Bible Churches" are a typically evangelical phenomenon. As this comment by a “radical Catholic Mom” would suggest, Sarah will go over very well with mothers who are raising children and are fully employed in the work force – a rather large demographic. Sarah is also a member of a broad-based pro-life movement known as Feminists For Life.
To be sure, the choice of Sarah Palin will not sit well with elements of the Religious Right. According to those elements, a woman by definition is not fit to be vice president, not to mention commander-in-chief of the armed forces should the president pass from the scene.
But there really aren’t that many people who think that way. The choice of Sarah Palin will cause the GOP ticket to lose a few votes on the right, but has the potential of allowing it to gain many more in the middle.
In my opinion, Sarah Palin is an inspired choice. It will cause me to take another look at the McCain presidential run. It already has.
A Sarah Palin quote:
"To any critics who say a woman can't think and work and carry a baby at the same time, I'd just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave."
Sarah in April, after giving birth to a son, shown
by genetic testing to have Down's syndrome:
"I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection. Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"
UPDATE: Peter Kirk (see comments) thinks evangelicals will not vote for Sarah Palin because she is a woman “doing a man’s job.” But note James Dobson’s remark: “This selection by Sen. McCain is a very encouraging sign for his campaign.” Here is a favorable post by Al Mohler, a Southern Baptist heavyweight, about the Palin family.
For a helpful discussion with important background detail, see John Podhoretz here.
Molly Alley’s post
and comments thereto demonstrate how McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin has
re-energized his campaign. Here
is David Ker’s take. Notice how he fails to mention that he and Sarah are
fellow AGs. Full disclosure, please. Chuckle. For in-depth background analysis
(and great pics), go here.
Comments elsewhere: here and here.