Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sarah Palin's Religious Views

Andrew Sullivan finds cause for alarm in a recent New York Times article that questions whether Sarah Palin holds dangerously radical Christian beliefs. That New York Times article is rather badly researched fear-mongering. It dangles threatening terms, such as "spiritual warfare," before the reader without giving any concrete information. "Spiritual warfare" is a term widely used throughout Christianity, often meaning something as benign as "we'll pray for you because we're worried."

It is possible that Palin's religious beliefs may be so radical and militant that Americans would be horrified if they knew what she thought. It is also possible that she is a milktoast pew-sitter who would fit comfortably in most churches in the country. And this is where the New York Times and Sarah Palin have failed us. Folks, if you're going to make a big deal about religion, then do your research and let's talk about relevant facts! (That includes you people who are running on Presidential tickets.)

Here's some questions that Sarah Palin should be answering in detail. If she refuses to answer them, then (hint to the Times) these would be good starting points for a journalist to research. If she refuses to even issue statements on them, then I suppose each of us may assume the worst. (The same goes for other political candidates.)

I want to know...

Broadly: Do you believe that an Executive should use her power to enforce activities that a significant fraction of Americans would consider to be a matter of religious preference? What issues, particularly?

What specific statements does your religious tradition make about contemporary political figures?

Do you consider any political (economic, military, etc.) leaders to be morally corrupt and/or evil? If so, how do you interact with such people?

What are the essential components of a well-rounded education that students should receive in public schools?

Specifically: Do you hold any religious biases that could be construed as "anti-intellectual?" For example, are you suspicious of seminary (or other higher) education? Have you ever "spoken in tongues?" What is your opinion of systematic theology?

Do you believe non-Christians are destined for Hell? If so, what can you say that would encourage non-Christians to vote for you?

Some people say that evangelism is the top religious priority, while others argue that helping the needy takes precedence. What do you think are the top three priorities for Christians to accomplish in the world?

What specific steps do you think America should take to alleviate the tremendous suffering in America and around the world, especially in developing countries?

Many sections of the Christian Bible promise (or even require) punishments for unbelievers. Do you believe that you have any role in carrying out those divine commands and/or prophecies?

Do you believe that God works through human governments? If so, in what ways specifically would you want to be used by God? How would God use you in ways that he would not use an atheist politician?