Skip to comments.Why Sarah Palin's Speech Will Not Win Over All Evangelicals
Posted on 09/04/2008 7:58:19 AM PDT by mathprof
I teach at a Catholic university. I study and write about evangelical Protestants. I have no religious convictions of my own. This bothers people who insist that if you are not yourself religious you cannot possibly "get" religion. I leave it to others to decide whether my lack of faith helps or hinders my capacity to understand the subject. But I do know one thing. Because of where I teach and who I study, I have come across some remarkable people I otherwise would never have met.
Familiar with the Catholic tradition, I cannot say I am surprised to meet learned Catholics with a deeply honed sense of social justice. But I have been taken aback by how many evangelicals to whom I have spoken who think deeply about the obligations we human beings have toward each other, take seriously a command to lead lives of good purpose, and resist having their faith corrupted by the temptations of money and power. Megachurches and Christian colleges and seminaries have more than their share of people who love God and want to make the world a better place.
Sarah Palin's speech last night was rapturously received by the delegates to the Republican convention, most of whom are conservative Christians. But just because most Republicans are conservative Christians does not mean that all conservative Christians are Republican. I have the feeling that Palin's speech will not wear well among many of the primarily younger evangelicals I have come to know.
To be sure, Palin's personal story will resonate with them, especially the story of Trig. (At one evangelical event in Atlanta I attended, I was bowled over by the parents of a quadriplegic child to whom they had clearly devoted their lives; I do not think I have the same level of devotion within me). But three aspects of Palin's speech are likely to bother them.
Evangelicals are becoming increasingly persuaded that Christians are under an injunction to preserve and protect the natural environment bequeathed to us by God. They will not be attracted to destroying the beauty of Alaska to fill our all-too- human urge to drive cars. Christians are from time to time called on to sacrifice for their beliefs, and if we have to cut back our energy consumption to protect God's gift, that is as worthy a sacrifice as there is. Palin rhetorically called for clean energy but her words lacked conviction, especially when compared to her calls to drill and drill some more. This will be noticed.
Palin's speech, secondly, was too partisan to be easily swallowed by younger, post-partisan, evangelicals. These are people who disagree with Barack Obama's position on abortion but respect him as a Christian. Palin's over-the-top sarcasm toward Obama will not play well with them, especially her implicit questioning of his patriotism. To the extent that these younger evangelicals are political, they look for a politics of elevation. The whole tone of last night's convention will prove to be a bit too sour. You do not call for change and adhere to the Rove-Schmitt style of attack.
Finally, and most importantly, Palin did not speak to the powerful sense emerging among evangelicals that all Christians, and not just Catholics, should do their best to insure social justice in this world. On the contrary, Palin mocked Obama's service as a community organizer, an odd thing to do given that so many community organizers are inspired by their religious convictions. Promising to cut taxes appeals to country-club Republicans. It is not nearly as resonant a theme to those who understand that the programs financed by taxes help the neediest and most dependent. If Palin said one word about how to make this world a fairer place or indicated at any point how to realize the common good, I did not hear it.
This is the moment for Sarah Palin to have her day. But great speeches are meant to be digested over long periods. This is not one that future generations of evangelicals will turn to for inspiration.
Alan Wolfe is a TNR contributing editor and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College.
Alan Wolfe is yet another lib defining what “evangelicals” believe and think and then explaining why Palin doesn’t fit “our” mold.
He is so wrong. He couldn’t be wronger!
And Obama’s didn’t win over all Democrats...So what’s the f’ing point Alan?
I have no religious convictions of my own.
I feel sorry for the students who have learn from this lamebrain.
I have 5 very liberal... did I say very liberal women who go to church with me. They sent out an email this morning saying to make sure we all vote. I sent back a reply.. I will vote and I am very anxious to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket. Funny thing I have not had any replies back to me. I was the only Republican on the email and all others HUGE libs.
So they're not upset that Barack supports murder, but they will be upset that big bad Sarah said baaaad things about him?
“...the powerful sense emerging among evangelicals that all Christians, and not just Catholics, should do their best to insure social justice in this world.”
“Social justice” is just another term for socialism/communism. I’ll take that old time religion myself- the Lord helps those who help themselves.
And I find it hard to believe that anyone who is completely irreligious can "get" religion -- but, o.k., I'll judge him on his conclusions as he requests.
It's clear from his conclusions that he doesn't "get" religion at all.
No kidding, I stopped reading afte the first sentence, no wonder C is so messed up, sorry, but true, spoken as a former C
Bunk, her life example will win people of all kinds over.
The speeches are just tasty frosting on the cake.
What's she doing giving a partisan speech at a party convention? Geez, what a lamebrain!
An assertion without any to back it up.
most of whom are conservative Christians.
NOTHING from the New Republic is to ever be believed.
1. the environment,
2. abortion, and
3. social justice.
Liberalism wearing a fake collar.
Catholics are going to be the toughest contingency for Obama to win over. Definitely not going to happen now.
I understand now...
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