“Now you see why I chose her?” John McCain asked the wildly cheering audience after Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech before the RNC on Wednesday night. Sure do, John.
Sarah Palin showed last night that she was chosen to energize the working class and Evangelical base of the Republican Party. And if the crowd at the Xcel Energy Center Complex in St. Paul is any indication, she delivered. It will take another couple of days to find out exactly how Palin went over with the base Republican consituency across the country. Women and men from the conservative right usally don’t like punchy, tough talking women. (Think Hillary Clinton.) No matter how pretty they are. But that was before John McCain became the Republican nominee and needed to pull a rabbit out the hat in order to get his base behind him. What we’ve seen over the past week since Palin was introduced into the race is despite McCain’s claim to be a reformer, the Republican party reverting back to the strategy that worked to get his predecessor, George W. Bush elected in 2000 and 2004. Inflame the Religious Right. And nothing puts a fire under that group and imbues them with a sense of call like a perceived threat against the traditional family.
In comes Governor Sarah Palin.
Here’s my point: I’m an ex-Pentecostal with, let’s say, charismatic predilections, a minister, a bible scholar, a writer who writes about religion and spirituality, a Christian who goes to church almost every Sunday (which means even when I’m not preaching), a pastor’s wife and a mother, someone who teaches bible study and vacation bible school classes, when her schedule (and mood) allows – heck I’ll let everyone in on a little secret, I even tithe to my local church (yeah, yeah, I know; don’t go there). Despite my impeccable credentials, it’s pretty clear to me that I’m not who pundits, politicians, and media prophets have in mind when they talk about “Evangelicals.”
“With Palin on the Ticket, Evangelicals are Energized.”
“Sarah Palin brings hope to Evangelical Voters.”
“Evangelicals Rally Behind Palin After Pregnancy News.”
“Has Palin’s Light Dimmed Among Evangelicals?”
That’s Evangelical with a capital “E.”
What’s an Evangelical you ask? Even Evangelicals don’t agree on what an evangelical is. Besides, it doesn’t matter what an Evangelical thinks an Evangelical is. What matters is what politicians and pundits and media prophets say an Evangelical is. Evangelicals are Evangelicals not because of what they believe, but because of the stance they take on controversial issues. No issue matters more to them than unborn fetuses and traditional marriage. Sure, Evangelicals, according to pollster, tend also to be pro-death penalty, pro-preemptive war, anti-immigration, pro-home schooling, anti-Palestinian rights, pro-Republican party, anti-Democratic party, pro-literal reading of the Bible, anti-higher taxes, and so on. But nothing strikes horror and disgust in the heart of a true Evangelical like notion of a woman’s right to a legal and safe abortion. There’s no one they care about like they care about unborn fetuses. No one they despise more than those who are pro-choice. A woman’s right to choose is to Evangelicals what the Communist threat was to America during the Cold War. Evangelicals are Christians who think it is their religious duty to thrust their notion of values and God down the throats of everyone else. Jesus’ “Great Commission” was not about making disciples, but making it increasingly difficult for women to have safe, legal abortions. If it means electing an ex-beauty queen from Alaska name Sarah Palin with a compromised family life as Vice President of the United States, then ‘Thy will be done.”
Tonight Sarah Palin proved that she is a smart, ambitious, attractive, accomplished woman. She is no shrinking violet. Her classmates called her “baraccuda” for a reason. Too bad she spent most of her speech fending off attacks and taking swipes at Barack Obama instead of talking about what important insights she brings to the Republican ticket as a woman, a mom, and a governor on matters of reviving our economy, fighting global poverty and disease, ending the war in Iraq and addressing climate change.
I know that as a woman of faith I’m supposed to feel comfortable around the theology of the Religious Right. But I’m not. I hear all that talk about family values, and I get scared. Whose family and whose values? I wonder.
I’ve certainly been bothered sitting her this past week watching the party most closely associated with Evangelicals and the Religious Right change its platform, switch values, and give itself a complete moral make-over in less than a week. Anything to win. I’ve sat and listened to pundits and politicians who otherwise would probably never work for a woman or elect a woman rally the troops to accept Sarah Palin, quick to label any questions about Sarah Palin qualifications for the Vice Presidency as misogynist and sexist.
Who would imagine that the same men who drafted the Southern Baptist 2000 Baptist Faith & Message would this week praise McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for VP?
“The only restrictions we find in Scripture are, that for whatever reason women are not to be in charge of a marriage and women are not to be in charge of a church,” explained Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “That has nothing to do with governor, or senator or the House of Representatives, or president, or vice president.”
What a bunch of hypocrites.
Women can head countries, but they can’t head churches?
I repeat: John McCain is a fox. Beside proving how much contempt he has for women by choosing as a running mate whose credentials and personal life cause a dilemma for every modern woman who thinks women deserve a chance to lead this country, he then proves the contempt he has for the Religious Right (who have consistently in the past rejected his bid for the presidency) by choosing someone whose personal life makes a mockery of issues the Right has built its platform on upon (e.g., abstinence and traditional wives).
While I’m at it, I am offended that while Palin’s family is supposed to be off limit to criticism she gets to parade them before the public and score points as a Mom, a mom who doesn’t believe in abortion, the proof being a special needs infant and an unwed, pregnant teen daughter standing there with the Baby Daddy at her side.
Back off Obama.
This is a woman’s issue. This one hits too close to home.Women’s reproductive rights is at stake with Sarah Palin on the ticket. McCain has renewed the anti-abortionists’ dreams that they will have a say in filling the three Supreme Court slots likely to come open in the next four years with conservative judges.
That Sarah Palin’s 17 year old pregnant and unmarried is no business of mine . But that Sarah Palin opposes abortion and the teaching of sex-education in schools, and has a 17 year old daughter who is pregnant, is very much my business. And the business of every woman who cares not only about the unborn, but the born too. You don’t get to profess to be opposed to abortion and then cut a line item in your state budget that would provide transitional housing for teen mothers in need of a place to live. Where do unwed teens who don’t get to live in the Governor’s mansion or the White House go to live?
Have you noticed?: Black teens, like most teens, carry their babies to term, and they are blasted by conservative pundits as immoral “welfare queens” for getting pregnant before marriage . Bristol Palin chooses, with her mother’s support, to go ahead with her pregnancy, and she is good Christian girl who deserves to be left alone.
Did I mention those conservatives who use the example of Jesus being born out wedlock to whitewash Palin’s 17 year old daughter’s pregnancy? I love you Mary, but someone give me a break.
Evangelicals have made birth control, abortion, sex education in public schools, and homosexuality, into public issues and if those of us who consider ourselves evangelicals with a little “e” don’t speak up and remind folks that the Religious Right does not have a corner on Christianity, women like Sarah Palin will be in the Executive Office rolling back the clock on every legal achievement women have fought for and achieved in the last 40 years.
I, and other Christians, too care about the sanctity of life. Life from conception to the grave. We also believe that fetuses should have a chance to grow and thrive under the best economic, emotional, and physical circumstances their parents can provide. We care about the others issues Jesus had in mind too when he declared, “I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). We care about mothers (and fathers too) and the stress and hardship women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy sometimes endure. We care also about poverty, HIV/AIDS, health care and insurance hassles, equal pay, immigration, war, child care, and families losing their homes – the kind of issues that when compounded with an unplanned pregnancy can be soul breaking to women without resources and support.
And just in case, folks hadn’t noticed, there’s a law already on the books that protects a woman’s right to determine the number and spacing of her children, by providing her the right to have access to a safe and legal abortion should circumstances force her to have to make such an unfortunate decision. It became law in January, 1973.
“And you call yourself a Christian.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one. For not towing the line. For not believing what others believe. For not being Right. Content simply to try to live right, that is in a manner Jesus would recognize. To do justice, show mercy, and to walk humbly before God