It’s probably a good thing to be reminded now and then that not every Christian conservative in the country has sold their soul to Republican tribalism and several of them have stepped up to blast Sarah Palin for her hideous declaration that if she were in charge, waterboarding is how she would “baptize” terrorists. Here’s Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition:
In our attempts to dehumanize our enemy we end up becoming less than human ourselves. It would be a Pyrrhic victory to save civilization and lose our humanity
We must never hesitate to defend our culture, our future, and our lives against those who seek to destroy us. The liberal cosmopolitan elite appeal to tolerance and understanding in the face of such an enemy is suicidal. However, the right-wing populist position, which is willing to face up to and address the evil of terrorism, fails to understand the ramifications of becoming like the enemy by dehumanizing them.
The truly Christian position is to never forget that evil comes not just from the actions of “terrorists” or “enemies” but from the heart of fallen, sacred yet degraded, human beings. If we are to preserve our own humanity we must not forget that our enemy differs from us in degree, not in kind.
I would point out that this whole idea of a “liberal cosmopolitan elite” who favors “tolerance and understanding” of terrorists is one gigantic straw man. 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.
If I thought that kind of hateful declaration and abuse of the Christian religion was what conservatism stood for, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a conservative. Some conservatives do stand for that. They’re wrong, and they should be called out on it — not because some liberal somewhere is going to be offended, but first and foremost because we Christians who identify as conservatives are appalled by it.
Torture — waterboarding being something reasonable people may consider to constitute it — is and should be a question of grave moral consequence for Christians, and is for any Catholic familiar with the Catechism. Palin wasn’t even just jokingly comparing a serious violation of human dignity into one of the most important transcendental recognitions of it – she was mounting an expansive defense of something near torture, on the grounds that our prisoners ”would obviously have information on plots,” and therefore ought to, apparently, be subjected to a horrible practice not as a morally necessary last resort but a habit of quotidian intimidation. There’s a word for that kind of practice: barbaric.
And finally, Andrew Sullivan:
A Christian who can equate the sacrament of baptism with a barbaric form of torture is not a Christian, whatever self-righteous blather she emits. And a former vice-presidential candidate who talks of “baptizing” Muslim terror suspects through waterboarding is handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup on a platter. She disgusts me. And what disgusts me even more is the rank cowardice of so many sane Republicans who for far too long have failed to take her on.
But here’s the thing: The very fact that Sarah Palin remains so popular on the American right means that these decent people are in the minority within their own political ideology.