In a previous post, I somewhat facetiously wondered why Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani derided people who help working people under the auspices under the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Was it something about Catholics?
As it turns out, Palin might have a Catholic problem on her hands anyway. Since she was 12, she has belonged to several churches that are members of the Assemblies of God (which was also John Ashcroft’s church). AG’s faith is what is called “premillenial dispensationalist.” This belief system posits a series of “dispensations” that last until The Rapture, which is followed by Christ’s millenial reign (thus, “premillenialism”), and then the Final Judgment.
Key to the dispensationalist notion is that the Roman Catholicism is a false church, the Whore of Satan. (This book by Paul Boyer is an excellent starting point for understanding dispensationalism, as is this one by George Marsden). This is why evangelical Protestants have been driven by anti-Catholic prejudice for so long. If the Whore language sounds familiar, it should: it is precisely the language that John Hagee used that got him into so much trouble, even though John McCain actively sought his endorsement and Joe Lieberman still thinks he’s a-ok.
So–does Palin believe that the Catholic Church is a whore? Does she believe, as all members of the Assemblies of God must, that “a Final Judgment Will Take Place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire”? (Thanks, guys: we love you, too.).
Is it irresponsible to ask? It would irresponsible not to.
In all seriousness, Palin has led this campaign, as with her mayoral campaign in Wassila, with her religion. The subtext is clear. Vote for me: I’m a Christian. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
But if Palin wants to state publicly that in fact she is an apostate from a church that she has belonged to for most of her life, she is welcome to do so. You don’t get to pick and choose beliefs from your church. Unless, of course, you’re one of those terrible secular liberal elites from the coasts.