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.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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