Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Saradise Lost - Book 2 - Chapter 18 --

This past weekend, in local and national reporting on the Friday night fire at the Wasilla Bible Church, the media, in efforts to drive up circulation in their dying industry, and Governor Sarah Palin, hoping to keep her name in the national news in a self-serving way, were quite willing to dish out an inaccurate portrayal of why people in Alaska and the USA have been concerned about Palin's religious affiliations and beliefs.

Gov. Palin's religious activities were little known outside of Southcentral Alaska, until she was picked by Sen. John McCain to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential contest. Then national media writers and Alaska bloggers covered aspects of her religious background in detail. The Wasilla Bible Church's bulletin's schedule of upcoming events at other churches was way, way, way down the list.

Linda Kellen, at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis covered this Sunday:

It was made clear at the time [in September, 2008] that the actual Conference did NOT take place at the Wasilla Bible Church, but at the Abbott Loop Christian Center in Anchorage. No...the truly negative attention went to her previous church...the one that she still occasionally attended despite her claim that she had switched churches...the Wasilla Assembly of God.

Coverage in the local and national press last weekend and through this week so far, has been like this:

The 1,000-member evangelical church was the subject of intense scrutiny after Palin was named John McCain's running mate. Early in Palin's campaign, the church was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Focus on the Family "Love Won Out Conference" in Anchorage. The conference promised to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome."

That makes no sense. The Wasilla church noted in a bulletin that another church was having an upcoming event. Dozens of southcentral Alaska evangelical churches posted the same notice.

The only controversy involving Gov. Palin and the Wasilla Bible Church, was her attendance, a couple of weeks before the VP selection, at a conference there, led by David Brickner. Brickner heads the evangelical-friendly organization, Jews for Jesus. Palin's attendance at this sole controversial session at the WBC merited little local or national attention during the fall campaign. Nor did the WBC's role in promoting the Abbot Loop event.

The two big issues during the 2008 presidential race about her religious beliefs were her relationship with Pastor Thomas Muthee, and her one-time young earth creationism fervor.

I've been waiting for four days to see if the coverage was going to make some sort of honest attempt to revisit the Subject of Palin's religious views past the meme that began on Saturday. I just did another Google check. It doesn't appear to have happened yet.

The essence of the story about Palin and her religious views, as they pertain to her performance in office, by and large, have almost nothing to do with her membership at the WBC. The most important aspects of her beliefs, to me, are these:

1. Her adherence, when it comes to public policy regarding LBGT issues, to follow moral precepts that tangle separation of church and state.

2. Her adherence to, when it comes to public policy regarding science, to a set of beliefs (such as biblical inerrancy) that fly in the face of reason, historical evidence and common sense. This is a further entanglement.

3. Her continued ties to the organizations affiliated with Pastor Thomas Muthee. They directly advocate the end of separation of church and state, wherever they operate. Not only in Africa, but in Western Hemisphere countries like Brazil and Guatamala, whenever adherents of sects tied to the network associated with Muthee gain dominance in the local political regime, they act like thugs or worse. Some of these shadowy organizations refer to Palin as Queen Esther.

4. The overwhelming evidence, between her Muthee ties, and the only actual event at the WBC that Palin did attend there that is of concern - the event last summer conducted by David Brickner -of her advocacy, albeit very discreet, of intrinsically anti-Semitic organizations.

5. The growing financial support during the Palin administration to faith-based organizations that are preeminently fundamentalist, coupled with her numerous appointments of fundamentalists to state positions and to boards. In regard to the latter, I'm not that concerned about these appointments if the appointee is eminently qualified, but many don't appear to have been the best choice. Her initial replacement for Walt Monegan was certainly a case in point.

Many liberal and progressive writers have referred to President George W. Bush's "code words" and phrases, targeted to the end-times mind set. Most of Bush's references are fairly under-the-radar, unless one is looking for them. Palin's are less so. And on their own, Palin's almost constant references to phrases that come from her religious upbringing, are harmless.

But all along, since August 29th, some have been genuinely worried that the whole package that Palin represents on the spiritual front, especially when set against her inanity and personal selfishness, is of concern.

Two things about how this is (or is not) playing out fascinate me.

The first is the way my June 1997 conversation with Palin about creationism and the end times went. On September 3rd, I published a post, recounting two of my three conversations over the years with Palin on her creationism views. A number of national blogs picked up the post. These were followed by national media outlets, wanting to interview me, check my veracity. These were followed by calls or emails from a number of academics, psychologists and psychiatrists, trying to figure out Sarah Palin. And of course, Tina Fey and the SNL crew picked up on the dinosaurs and humans together aspect immediately.

Did the local media bother to ask me anything about this? No. I have no idea why they didn't.

Several right-wing blogs commented that I had been after Palin for decades, or years, or months, depending upon which blog one read. That simply wasn't true.

The second thing that concerns me, perhaps more now, as we watch coverage of the WBC fire continue, is the inability of American media to intelligently deal with the worsening ramifications of superstitious people like Palin in their role as administrators or executives of science-based agencies, and how that hurts our state, our country, our planet.

Palin is deeply superstitious. Yet media coverage of the WBC fire possibly having been motivated by Palin's being a member of that congregation, and Palin's own post-fire statements, portray an unnamed, amorphous possible perpetrator as being motivated by some evil, hateful notion.

It may turn out that the fire was started by somebody motivated by hatred toward Gov. Palin. But possibly inaccurate, certainly incomplete portrayals of possible crime motives by the media are deplorable.

I've always had mixed feelings about Sarah Palin. All my conversations with her, most of them inconsequential, were polite. I like her dad, miss fishing next to him at Fish Creek. My kids adore him.

The Sarah Palin who emerged in early September is another matter, though. Between remembering what I had forgotten about her over the past 18 years, and reading new aspects of her past, I've grown to feel that she isn't just unfit to be the Vice President of the United States, but that she isn't particularly fit for public office at any level.

The fact that she's our governor now, instead of doing something else, is in no small part because Alaska media, particularly KTUU-TV and the Anchorage Daily News, failed to fully cover her terms as mayor of Wasilla, and interim roles on the path to Juneau Per Diem.

I hope they do their job in the future, on covering Sarah Palin.

middle image - Gen. JC Christian, Patriot


CelticDiva said...

Excellent piece, Phil.

And "Per Diem" was a nice touch :D

Anonymous said...

Phil, why did you post a picture of the Sports Dome at ChangePoint?

Anonymous said...

Wow the 'owner' of this blog has some serious issues about chicks with opinions that differ from his own opinion.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous II-- you are wrong. The owner has no problem trashing his own party when they do stupid things and in SP's case, she keeps giving him the material to criticize. She is not a "chick;" she is a governor who is supposed to be running our state. She is very unprofessional. He'd not care about her if she were Suzie Homemaker with a lame blog voicing her lackwitted opinions. (He pays no heed to Syrin, for instance, but then she may have hit him up for a candle party.)

The governor is not just anybody, which I think is what she doesn't realize. She needs to play a role of a state chief executive and she is not doing it well. She seems like she is trying to be a lesser supporting role while getting accolades and I don't understand it. It's like watching Pebbles from the Flintstones when she was suddenly appointed mayor of Bedrock-- does anyone remember that?

Funny how SP is-- you know that she will snap up that suggested raise in spite of talking about less spending!

Anonymous said...

Phil...pardon my ignorance and lack of hipness...but what the hell is LBGT?

Anonymous said...

I live in the lower 48 and my view of SP is she is unfit for public office. I hope that Alaskans see this and take appropriate action before she resurfaces for 2012.

Her ethics, religious beliefs, lack of intellectual curiosity and her inability to speak properly concerns me.

It did not take a lot of searching on Alaskan blogs to see what kind of person she really is.
And she certainly got a pass from the RNC and press, a pregnant unmarried daughter of any other candidate would probably cost them a seat on the ticket.

I hope that the Alaskan media reports fairly and honestly about her actions as Governor.
If she were mine, I would be calling for her to be impeached for her lack of ethics.
At least, her administration needs a course in state ethics.

clark said...

LBGT=lesbian bisexual gay transgender. but you don't need me to tell you that, you have a computer with a search engine.

Philip Munger said...


thanks, heh....

to the person with the LBGT question - a suggestion - bookmark the urban dictionary..

Anonymous said...

"Funny how SP is-- you know that she will snap up that suggested raise in spite of talking about less spending!"

Perhaps a rethinking of the above post is in order? Enlight of Palin's statement about recieving a wage increase.

Philip Munger said...

Palin's office is claiming she doesn't want the money. I think it is up to the legislature how they want to handle the recommended compensation changes.

KaJo said...

Considering Sarah Palin personally hand-picked the 5 man commission that recommended the pay raises, her "noble" rejection of a pay raise for herself gets her some more brownie points with her "base".

It also put her in the news for another day. What next?

But it puts the state Legislature in an awkward position now, whether to be the "bad guys" and postpone pay raises and hurt the lower-echelon public servants, or look like fiscal profligates when they go ahead with the recommendations from Palin's panel, putting the REST of her administration in an awkward position.

Nice work, Sarah. Who thought that bit of machination up, you or Todd?

Anonymous said...

~ sigh ~
maybe Sherry(Syrin) and Phil should further join forces and hold a candlelight protest in downtown Wasilla?

Consider it your 'coming out party' for being the first leaders of the I Can't Stand Anything Sarah club.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ #12 - I am not about to join forces with Syrin, nor do I have any candlelight vigils planned.

what do you object to specifically in this post? Or are you unwilling to be specific?

Also, I'm a full-fledged member of "Team Sarah."

CelticDiva said...

As I talk about today, Sarah Palin doesn't want to rock the boat. If she were to take the raise, it would further embolden the constituency (and through them...the Legislature) to tighten rules on her per diem and family travel.

If that happened, even if she took the raise, she'd lose $14,732 based on her per diem and travel from last year.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I'm a little concerned about your dismissal of Palin's qualification for public office based on her religious beliefs.

Are we getting to the point that there is a litmus test for qualification for public office? Do we need to toe the progressive line to be qualified?

I wonder, if progressives ever do achieve a strong majority in this country, would they eliminate people from public office because they disagreed with progressives versions of the facts?

I rather like the constitutional determination for fitness for public office. Meet the minimal guidelines and win the election.

Unfit for public office...my eye. Anyone that wins an election is fit in my opinion. The people rule in this country, not academia.

Anonymous said...

True, Palin has declined it but only because it benefits her now. This woman still redecorated her mayor's office for more than that raise. She'll take the money some other way.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ #15 - people from inerrancy sects, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Communist - or giant noodle monster believers - fail their oath of office, when they put those beliefs before their overall duties as public servants.

I am for progressive politics, but there are no more "progressive facts" than there are any other rational sets of facts.

Palin's religious beliefs have affected her actions as an administrator and as a candidate since she was on the Wasilla planing commission. She has usually managed to address her job without having to consider those views.

But, particularly in women's, family, LBGTQ, law enforcement, 1st amendment, science and mineral extraction issues, I perceive her bottom-line adherence to "inerrancy sect syndrome," I'll call it, keeps her from serving the public at-large.

I'll be bringing this up in a post soon.

Thanks for raising the issue.

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