Palin’s Baptism Comments: Not the First Time She’s Angered the Catholics

The Internet has been abuzz this week over Sarah Palin’s remarks about waterboarding and baptism.

Palin’s opponents–those who don’t like her political positions, and those who just think she’s a loose cannon–have been quick to criticize this latest guffaw.

Here at Patheos, our own Anchoress writes, “It’s simple, folks.  She’s wrong.”

“How dare she?”  Elizabeth asks.

“How does someone professing to be a follower of Christ Jesus take a sacramental action pronounced and instituted from the very mouth of the Lord, and use it to make an ill-conceived “joke” in order to throw political red meat and puff up herself?”

Read the rest here.

I understand Elizabeth’s point.  But I think Palin’s careless remark in a live interview was not an intentional snub of Catholics, an assault on the sacredness of the Sacrament, as much as it was a common evangelical misunderstanding regarding just how seriously Catholics (and some Christian denominations) regard Baptism.

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Looking back through my own posts, I found that Palin had apologized at least once before, when she made an off-the-cuff remark about Pope Francis in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.  In an apology posted on social media, Palin explained:

Just to clarify my comment to Jake Tapper about Pope Francis, it was not my intention to be critical of Pope Francis. I was reminding viewers that we need to do our own homework on news subjects, and I hadn’t done mine yet on the Pope’s recent comments as reported by the media. Knowing full well how often the media mischaracterizes a person’s comments (especially a religious leader’s), I don’t trust them to get it right when it comes to reporting on the Vatican. I do, however, trust my many Catholic friends and family, including some excellent Catholic writers, who have since assured me that Pope Francis is as sincere and faithful a shepherd of his church as his two predecessors whom I admired. I apologize for not being clearer in my response, thus opening the door to critical media that does what it does best in ginning up controversy.

– Sarah Palin

You can read my report regarding the CNN kerfuffle here.

*     *     *     *     *

My take on the whole thing?

Governor Palin’s remark about waterboarding, tossed off carelessly during a live interview, was not malicious but was certainly imprudent.  The former vice presidential candidate  has demonstrated a proclivity for shoe-in-mouth statements which makes it unlikely she’ll find a slot on a presidential ticket in the future.

Palin is a woman of faith, albeit not my particular faith; and her too-casual speech reflects an uninformed disrespect which is too common among the American populace as a whole.

But take a step back, if you will, and stand Palin’s faith against that of the current President.  Catholic Online published an analysis in October 2012 which still holds true today:

The reality is, some of President Obama’s policies, such as the dreaded HHS mandate in the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act, are overtly anti-Catholic and anti-Life. Other of his policies are quietly anti-Catholic and anti-life. 

And while some provisions of Obamacare may be popular and have good intentions, they are tainted with profound difficulties and could have an evil effect. Obama has apparently managed to  stealthily maneuver some Catholics into supporting an anti-life political agenda. 

Obamacare compels Catholics to participate in anti-life activities, no matter how much they are opposed to it. Not only is this evil, but it is coercive and tramples upon our God-given, First Amendment protected, right to freedom of religion and conscience. 

Since I am certain that Sarah Palin meant no harm, my attitude has been “No harm, no foul.”  There are bigger fish to fry.  

Let us move on.  


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  • Mark_Trail

    Well said, Kathy. I will always remember Sarah Palin’s Tax Day Tea Party Speech at the Wisconsin State Capitol, where she stood before an outer ring of screaming, angry unionists, congratulated the inner ring of hard-working Wisconsinites who were supporting fiscal responsibility and Governor Scott Walker and his wise and prudent budget priorities that saved union jobs, then she thumbed her nose at President Obama’s disregard and snubbing of the Constitution and We the American People, unborn babies and veterans, his “transformational agenda,” his hatred and violence toward hard-working folks exposed by his supporters in Wisconsin who trashed the Capitol, then she predicted a big change in the 2012 elections, reminded the audience of the University of Wisconsin Women’s Hockey Team that had just won the NCAA Championship, and challenged the crowd to “Fight like a girl!” and then, before the cheering supporters of fiscal and moral responsibility, said, “What better place than here in Madison to draw the line, and, “Mr. President we’re here, we’re not going away, we’re going to win….Game on, Mr. President!”

    You betcha, if there are bigger fish to fry, Governor Sarah Palin will know just how to fry ’em.
    ~”Doc” Kimble~

    • DeaconsBench

      Except that it wasn’t a live interview; it was a scripted speech before the NRA. And when people of varying Christian orthodoxies objected and said (rightly) that it was offensive, she took to Facebook and called us a bunch of “overly sensitive wusses.”

      She did indeed mean harm. Mission accomplished.

      And the harm was done not only to those of us who care deeply about this sacrament, and love our faith, but also to her own reputation.

      Stick a fork in her. She’s done.

      • Mark_Trail

        “Stick a fork in her. She’s done.” Politics has become a blood sport, creating phantasms of fratricide out of casual similes not meant to harm. “Baptism” could as easily be referring to “Baptism of fire” as “Christian Baptism.” Our separated religious communities have a deficiency in sacramental life, and that’s their personal tradition. The Holy Spirit moves where He wills, and loves even those who are deficient sacramentally. Jesus is bound to the sacraments, but not limited to them.

        Mixing the religious with the political is not always wise speech, but those who have the capability, temperament and responsibility to prosecute a war, defend our boundaries and protect our Freedoms are engaging in “Politics by another means” when they are called to duty, and oftentimes those personal word choices used in war and religion permeate into their political speech.

        Let those who have the responsibility, temperament and capability to prosecute wars and defend national boundaries have their freedom of speech without malice and without casting rash judgment upon them so that those who may not have those characteristics in their personality will have the freedom to speak soothing words to their flocks.

        Alaska is not just a state, but a state that defines the boundary between America and Russia. Governors of Alaska are tasked with being the first line of defense against Russia, should that duty become necessary. The baptism by fire is assumed before the call to that bloody duty is made.

        “Subversion is war by another means.”
        ~Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”~

  • Elizabeth Smith

    People who hate Sarah will find any reason they can. As a Catholic, I have no problems with Sarah Palin and her Baptism comment. I do, however, have problems with Catholics like Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Nancy Pelosi who thumb their nose at my faith and then claim membership when it’s advantageous for votes. Sarah walks the walk of a Christian.

    • Manny

      Right on!

  • IrishEddieOHara

    There may be bigger fish to fry, but we can always warm up with a small one to get in the frying mood.

    GO HOME,PALIN! Just go home and get out of politics and take your whacked out Protestantant religion with you. Go skin caribou somewhere. You are less dangerous there doing that than in Washington DC.

    So there!

    • dauriatomas

      whacked out Protestant religion? How humble…
      I’ve always been proud to be Catholic because I’ve never heard a Catholic Priest denounce another religion.

      • IrishEddieOHara

        Well, you apparently are not conversant with the writings of the Early Fathers of the Church. Or look up Bishop Nicholas, he who slapped the heretic Arias in the face for his vile teachings. Sorry, I don’t belong to the “Church of Nice.”

  • Manny

    You are the voice of reason. Palin’s baptism remark had no direct link to Catholics. Just about all Christians baptize and given that it’s the only sacred process in some denominations (while we have seven sacraments) it would be more a protestant issue than Catholic. But, it’s sacred for us all. But it was a joke. People are making too much of it. Does anyone really think that Sarah Palin is sacriligous? Anchoress didn’t allow comments or I would have replied. But I thought her drawing offense from Palin was overly sensitive, and frankly it seemed she was just looking for an issue to separate herself from Palin.