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.

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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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