Monday, December 13, 2010

The role of religion in political life

Sarah Palin apparently doesn't like the reasoning employed by John F Kennedy in his classic speech about the role of religion in politics.

In her book, she accuses JFK of "running away from religion". Additionally, she mounts ill-informed attacks against other liberal Democrats on religious grounds.

While it's easy to dismiss the half-term governor, for better or worse she is the mouthpiece for an influential minority of Americans.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend takes the governor down a peg or two in this Op-Ed:
To demand that citizens display their religious beliefs attacks the very foundation of our nation and undermines the precise reason that America is exceptional.

Palin's book makes clear just how dangerous her proposed path can be. Not only does she want people to reveal their beliefs, but she wants to sit in judgment of them if their views don't match her own. For instance, she criticizes Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), a Democrat and a faithful Catholic, for "talking the (God) talk but not walking the walk."

Who is Palin to say what God's "walk" is? Who anointed her our grand inquisitor?
Yeah, no kidding!
Kennedy Townsend takes on the most troubling aspect of Sarah Palin's ghostwritten glibness.
Palin, for her part, argues that "morality itself cannot be sustained without the support of religious beliefs." That statement amounts to a wholesale attack on countless Americans, and no study or reasonable argument I have seen or heard would support such a blanket condemnation. For a person who claims to admire Lincoln, Palin curiously ignores his injunction that Americans, even those engaged in a Civil War, show "malice toward none, with charity for all."

Palin fails to understand the genius of our nation. The United States is one of the most vibrant religious countries on Earth precisely because of its religious freedom. When power and faith are entwined, faith loses. Power tends to obfuscate, corrupt and focus on temporal rather than eternal purposes.

Somehow Palin misses this. Perhaps she didn't read the full Houston speech; she certainly doesn't know it by heart. Or she may be appealing to a religious right that really seeks secular power. I don't know.

I am certain, however, that no American political leader should cavalierly - or out of political calculation - dismiss the hard-won ideal of religious freedom that is among our country's greatest gifts to the world. As John F. Kennedy said in Houston, that is the "kind of America I believe in."


JCF said...

To say that Palin actually wrote ANYTHING in "her book" is laughable... [But yeah: Wot KKT Said.]

MarkBrunson said...

Wow! Op-ed pieces?!

That'll show her! I just can't understand why people think liberals are ineffectual pushovers.

People like Palin and the Palin-brained only understand a fierce kick to the backside and an official censure, preferably seizure of all their valuable assets, as well.

Fred Schwartz said...

As Louie says in Casablanca:
"I am shocked, just shocked!"