An Evangelical Who Doesn't Like Sarah Palin

By Jim Wallis 7-27-2009

I was doing a workout anyway, so I decided to watch Sarah Palin's farewell address while pumping away on the elliptical machine. The first thing I heard was CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley say that "evangelicals" just love Sarah Palin, even though most other groups (even her own Republicans) have steadily soured on the now-former Governor of Alaska. Crowley is a good political analyst who normally has intelligent things to say; but I am tired of the stereotype.

There are a lot of evangelicals, like me (and especially younger evangelicals), who are just embarrassed by Sarah Palin.

The speech was vintage Palin-absolutely awful. After some frenzied patriotism, that the United States was the BESTGREATESTEVER country in the history of the world, and that those who have any questions about any of that are just, you know, the absolutely wrong kind of people, she went on to an endless extolling of OUR MILITARY. Now, I feel a lot of pain and respect for the kids who have been put in harm's way by the stupid decisions of the last administration, and are still there trying to fight their way out of their leader's mistakes, but again, blind allegiance to the military and all their wars has not been one of our best national characteristics.

Then she talked about how bad the government always is, in everything, and that HOLLYWOOD STARLETS want to come up to Alaska to take OUR GUNS. So she wanted to remind America that support for the Second Amendment to bear arms comes from a deep northern tradition of WE EAT SO WE HUNT.

And finally, she got into some theology, which I guess is what Candy Crowley thinks warms evangelical hearts. She spoke of "God's grace helping those who help themselves." And once again, the vice-presidential candidate who continually startled Americans with an amazing lack of intellectual grasp on so many issues showed that she is also biblically illiterate. God's "grace" is for "those who help themselves?" I wonder where Sarah thinks that text is found in the Bible. Actually, Sarah, the special love of God seems to be for those who have the hardest time helping themselves-hence they need some help from those of us who can help ourselves. In Sarah's version of Mathew 25 it must say, "As you have done to those who can best help themselves, you have done to me."

So from Sarah Palin today, I heard rampant super-patriotism, an uncritical support for everything military, a scurrilous attack on any notion of how government might serve the common good, an effusive defense of guns, and a completely backwards biblical theology of the haves and have-nots. So why, as an evangelical Christian, am I supposed to like her?

When I listen to Sarah Palin, I go back and forth between thinking this person is just not smart enough to be president (and our recent experience of that has been scary enough) to thinking that she is indeed smart enough to be a very effective demagogue -- stoking the fears and myths of the American people to build a frightening political future. Either way, I hope she stays retired from politics. So here is one big evangelical dissent from those who reportedly like Sarah Palin. She makes me wince, grimace, roll my eyes, and even worry a little about the future.

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