Monday, September 8, 2008

Is Sarah Palin's Faith a Liability for McCain?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 1:04 PM

President Bush, using the coded language understood by evangelicals, is saying Sarah Palin was "an inspired pick" as John McCain's running mate. And whether God had anything to do with it or not, she's been widely hailed as a brilliant addition to the ticket. But her storyline in the media is starting to move away from Palin as political maverick to Palin as nutty evangelical. Some commentators are wondering whether McCain actually might have hurt his candidacy with independents and even with some younger, less conservative Christians by choosing her. Palin grew up as a Pentecostal, whose followers speak in tongues, practice faith healing and believe in the rapture. That's a little squirrelly even for most conservative Christians. Palin herself apparently recognizes her religious beliefs are potential political liabilities. In 2002, when she ran for Alaska lieutenant governor, she switched churches and now identifies herself not as Pentecostal but nondenominational. (She was paying a visit to her old church in the YouTube video above.) Once the media start picking apart Palin's faith, Republicans are sure to cast her as the victim again, just as they did when the topic was her pregnant daughter. But it won't work this time. After all the conservative outrage over Jeremiah Wright, a candidate's private religious beliefs are definitely fair game. As Time magazine points out, "McCain may find himself quoting a bowdlerized verse of Scripture in November: What does it profit a man to gain the Christian right and lose the White House?"

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