She spoke to the NRA over the weekend.
Sarah Palin would like all terrorists to know that if she were in charge, waterboarding is how the United States would baptize them.
At least that’s what the former Alaskan governor and ex-vice presidential nominee told thousands of attendees this weekend at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Indianapolis.
“If I were in charge,” Palin said Saturday during a Stand And Fight rally at Lucas Oil Stadium, “[our enemies] would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.”
Palin mocked what she called the Obama administration’s coddling of suspected terrorists.
“Enemies, who would utterly annihilate America, they who’d obviously have information on plots, to carry out jihad,” Palin said. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen.” The White House, she said, has failed to put “the fear of God in our enemies.”
The conservative firebrand also warned the pro-gun lobby that they — “intolerant, antifreedom leftist liberals” and “clownish, ‘Kumbaya’-humming, fairytale-inhaling” Democrats — are seeking to “strip away our Second Amendment rights.”
I have yet to read any reaction to this from any Christian leader or member of clergy.
As a Catholic, as an ordained member of clergy, and as someone who regularly administers the sacrament of baptism, I can’t let this stand unchallenged. Equating torture with baptism is extremely offensive—and, in fact, blasphemous. With this analogy, Governor Palin compares a practice that degrades human life (see CC #2297)—and one that the Catholic Church teaches is an intrinsic evil—to a sacred ritual that sanctifies and celebrates life. She has made a mockery of the foundational sacrament of our faith.
As someone who was baptized Catholic and who professes herself to be a believing Christian, Governor Palin should know better. As someone who calls herself “pro-life,” she should understand that we are called to respect life in all its forms, at all times, from conception to natural death.
Pro-life Americans should be appalled.
UPDATE: Some Christians are raising their voices in criticism:
Here’s Rod Dreher:
OK, stop. Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith. It’s disgusting — but even more disgusting, those NRA members, many of whom are no doubt Christians, cheered wildly for her.
Palin and all those who cheered her sacrilegious jibe ought to be ashamed of themselves. For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. Palin invoked it to celebrate torture. Even if you don’t believe that waterboarding is torture, surely you agree that it should not be compared to baptism, and that such a comparison should be laughed at. What does it say about the character of a person that they could make that joking comparison, and that so many people would cheer for it. Nothing good — and nothing that does honor to the cause of Jesus Christ.
What can one say but that this is a bona fide fascistic sentiment. It revels in violence against individuals tied down by their hands and feet and strapped to a terrifying board in order to be suffocated hundreds of times to near-death. It is the kind of statement you might expect from the Khmer Rouge, or from the Chinese Communists who perfected “stress positions”, or from the Nazis, whose Gestapo pioneered “enhanced interrogation”, i.e. brutal torture that would leave no physical traces. Except it’s worse than that. Even totalitarian regimes have publicly denied their torture. Their reticence and lies are some small concession of vice to the appearance of virtue. Not Palin – who wants to celebrate brutal torture as the American way.
And then she manages to go one step further. She invokes torture in the context of a Christian sacrament. Not since the Nazis’ Deutsche Christen have we seen something so disgusting and blasphemous in the morphing of Christianity into its polar opposite. Mercifully, some Christians on the right have managed to say something.
UPDATE II: Governor Palin tonight posted the following on her Facebook page:
Actions to stop terrorists who’d utterly annihilate America and delight in massacring our innocent children? Darn right I’d do whatever it takes to foil their murderous jihadist plots – including waterboarding. Whatever one thinks of my one-liner at the NRA rally about treating evil terrorists the way they deserve to be treated to prevent the death of innocent people, it’s utterly absurd for MSNBC to suggest that I could put our beloved troops in harm’s way, but we’ve come to expect the absurd from that failing network. If you want to talk about what really harms our troops, let’s talk about politicians who gut our military’s budgets, or a president whose skewed budgetary priorities slash military benefits, or an administration that puts our vets on endless waiting lists for care that comes too late to help those who’ve paid the price for our freedom, or those who break bread with those who think it makes no difference how our military heroes died in Benghazi or anywhere else trying to protect America. Those actions are a heck of a lot more harmful than declaring an appropriate message our enemies should receive. If some overly sensitive wusses took offense, remember the First Amendment doesn’t give you a right not to be offended. Perhaps hypocritical folks who only want Freedom of Speech to apply to those who agree with their liberal agenda might want to consider that the evil terrorists who were the brunt of my one-liner would be the first to strip away ALL our rights if given the chance. That’s why we do whatever we can to prevent them from killing innocent people. And for that, we should NEVER apologize. Good Lord, critics… buck up or stay in the truck. And if you love freedom, thank our troops! Thank our vets! And thank those who have the brains to support them and the guts to defend what they have earned!