Skip to comments.How Sarah Palin Embodies the Countercultural Evangelical Ethos
Posted on 10/01/2009 6:41:32 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The evangelical movement's eye-popping numbers (new megachurches are opening as mainline churches shrink), cultural power (think The Purpose Driven Life or crossover hits from Christian radio), and political success (George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, etc.) makes it easy to forget that evangelical Christianity is very much a countercultural phenomenon.
Even as it adapts to the contemporary American cultural landscapelook at Rick Warren's Hawaiian shirts or the number of megachurches that now boast coffee shopsthe American evangelical movement nonetheless defines itself as separate from the rest of the country.
"Religions that grow are the ones that are hard-core in some waythey have something that differs sharply from the culture in which they operate," Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University, told me recently. "That's the problem with mainline Protestantism: It's not different enough from mainstream America. Evangelicals have been able to pitch themselves as the alternative to mainstream culture."
Indeed, evangelicals read self-consciously evangelical magazines, go on church mission trips, and demonstrate remarkable political cohesion; a Pew survey out today finds that 71 percent of white evangelicals think abortion should be illegal, compared to 44 percent of the rest of the country.
In fact, nowhere is the evangelical countercultural impulse more evident than in politics. At the recent Values Voter Summit in Washington, more than one speaker compared the Christian right's role in politics today to the biblical story of David and Goliath.
And no politician embodies that embattled evangelical mentality more than Sarah Palin. She's an outsider's outsider.
During last year's campaign, the Republican vice presidential nominee portrayed herself as fighting not only the liberal media elite but the McCain campaign itself and the broader GOP establishment.
Palin has reportedly modeled her leadership on the biblical Queen Esther, who pulled off a long-shot gambit to save the Jews from an oppressive king. When she stepped down as Alaska's governor this year, Palin quoted Esther directly in reference to her own political future: "If I die, I die."
Palin's much anticipated memoir, to be released next month, is poised to solidify her appeal to the embattled evangelical psyche. Just look at the title: Going Rogue. With the book already in the No. 1 slot on Amazon, the pitch seems to be resonating.
The churches with growth are not just different than the culture, their doctrine and teaching have to be scriptural.
Need we a better example of the kind of attitude that says, I'm yours God. I'll go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do? That takes faith! Something our current politicians sorely lack.
This is just another attempt to paint Palin as some sort of religious fanatic, outside the mainstream, maybe even dangerous. From all the stuff I’ve read about her, she does have a strong belief in God, but she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve.
Just one point to make. Usually I find Dan Gilgoff's material to be reasonably accurate. Dan's article this time falls completely apart right at the opening. Consider the following:
The evangelical movement's eye-popping numbers (new megachurches are opening as mainline churches shrink)...Yes, individual churches here and there are growing. But the overall number of church-going, biblical-worldview-embracing Christians (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or Evangelical) is dropping in this country.
...cultural power (think The Purpose Driven Life or crossover hits from Christian radio)...Rick Warren folded the Purpose Driven organization back in 2006. The number and size amd sales revenue of Christian bookstore locations is shrinking.
...and political success (George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, etc.)...I don't know what planet Gilgoff is on this week, but evangelical-friendly candidates lost in 2006 and 2008, remember?
Even as it adapts to the contemporary American cultural landscapelook at Rick Warren's Hawaiian shirts...More than two years ago, Rick Warren traded the Hawaiian shirts for a suit and a toupee.
Dan Gilgoff makes some great points later in the article about evangelicals having their own culture, but in the beginning he only paints an unwitting picture of how they're losing it.
“But the overall number of church-going, biblical-worldview-embracing Christians (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or Evangelical) is dropping in this country.”
The overall number of church going Orthodox Christians is rising in this country. We are certainly counter-cultural though I doubt that has anything to do with the rise in attendance and conversions. If what you mean by “biblical-worldview-embracing”, however, is that mindset demonstrated by protestant evangelicals, I sincerely hope that their number among the Orthodox dwindles to zero. That parochial worldview translated into foreign policy has had a devastating effect on Eastern Christian communities from the Adriatic to the Iran/Iraq border and its missionary endeavors, really nothing more than a form of religious and cultural imperialism, have been particularly targeted at Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Monophysite Christian communities many of which are just now engaged in national struggles to shake off the Western poison of Communism and replace it with their ancient cultures which in great measure were formed by Eastern Christianity.
Everything the USA under Clinton and then Bush and probably Obama since his foreign policy is no different (despite his claims of change) that this effort by the “West” to bring order to the “east” has fallen hardest on Orthodox and other eastern Christians. Even the Russo-Georgian war (Which the EU just said was caused by Georgia) is based on western attempts to secure satellites in the east that has caused Orthodox on Orthodox friction.