Monday, September 29, 2008

Riding the Pale Horse

She came on the scene by storm, wowing the Republican Convention with her homespun humor and northern yooper-like accent. She was attractive, charismatic, and a successful wife, mom,
mayor, and governor. This is a game-changer they said. A conservative to unite the party and reinvigorate the moribund campaign of John McCain. They were right, for awhile anyway, but time and study have removed the sheen off those appley fresh cheeks.

Sarah Palin may be popular in Alaska and among evangelical Christians. She may have been a decent mayor of a town less than half the size of Ferndale. But her intellect, experience, and world view have shaken many Americans as they ponder her as our possible Vice-President, and more frighteningly, as our possible President.

The more Governor Palin speaks in public and allows live interviews, the more doubts are raised about her caliber as a national office-holder. Her rambling explanations about Alaska being near Russia and Canada do not instill confidence that she has the kind of deep foreign policy knowledge required to navigate our country through the intricacies of world affairs.

The scariest issue for me about Sarah Palin is without a doubt the particulars of her own brand of religious fundamentalism. She is not just a conservative who opposes sex education, birth control, and reproductive choice. And she does not just simply oppose equal rights for gay people. She was raised in, believes in, and participates in one of the most extreme wings of evangelical Christian fundamentalism. Known as Pentecostalism, these folks believe in the total literal truth of the bible as written. Various churches of this branch conduct the practice of speaking in tongues, faith healing, and in extreme cases in appalachia, the handling of poisonous snakes and the drinking of poison. They believe in demons and that the "end times" may be approaching, when an anti-christ takes over the world.

While all this and more could be tolerated as just another type of religous belief, it does make a difference when such a believer comes into control of the most powerful military in the world, and the nuclear arsenal that goes with it.

We have experienced eight years of a President who claims that God guided him in his decision to go to war against Iraq in a crusade-like battle against Islamic militants. And as frightening and disgusting as Islamic fanaticism and terrorism is in our world today, the solution is not to empower or encourage religious fundamentalism on the other side. Incredibly, there are persons across the globe who would like to see a world war between the forces of Christianity and Islam.

America is still a country that allows for the freedom to worship or practice just about any religion. (as well as the freedom to not practice any religion.) But we should think twice, and again a third time, about electing as a leader of the free world anyone who believes that Gay may soon bring about the end of civilization as we know it. Mankind is capable of destoying the world all by ourselves, and we need smart leaders in control of the nuclear arsenal who will work to keep the world peaceful and alive for future generations.


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