Sarah Palin, in a speech to the NRA, said that “waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” Lutheran journalist Mollie Hemingway calls that blasphemy. Her article in the Federalist includes a shoutout to the Cranach Institute, a quote from my daughter, and a critique of civil religion.
Mollie Hemingway, No, Sarah Palin, Baptism Isn’t A Good Punchline For A Terrorist Joke:
Sarah Palin gave a speech to members of the National Rifle Association, gathered in Indianapolis this weekend. She said something that struck me as sacrilegious. I’ve long defended Palin against the offensive treatment she’s received at the hands of a blatantly biased media, a media that collectively lost its mind the moment she entered the national stage. But that hardly means she must be defended at all times.
What did she say? Here’s how The Hill reports it:
“They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad,” she said at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting on Saturday evening, referring to prisoners. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”
Emphasis mine. When my husband (who was baptized 10 years ago today, as it happens) told me about this, I had a hard time believing that she actually said it. Not just because baptism couldn’t be taken more seriously in traditional Christianity but because the media routinely misquote or fail to provide context for quotes. But the video makes the statement seem even worse.
So why did the crowd cheer when she said it? And why did some folks defend or downplay the statement on Twitter? I couldn’t begin to say, but they shouldn’t have done so.