Sarah Palin and a Variety of Religious Experiences

Sunday morning, September 7th, 2008. Last night, the remnant of Tropical Storm Hanna passed through our state, spawning a couple tornado warnings here and there and assorted power outages. On our way to church, we passed a section of road where traffic was redirected due to downed power lines, and I had heard about other power outages around the state.

Yet it was a beautiful Sunday morning. At church, the service followed a familiar course and we sang familiar hymns and then it was time for the sermon. Part way into the sermon, Rev. Lesley Hay, our assistant Rector talked a little bit about different ways people seek to worship God.

Suppose we go to live in a new place and are looking for a church to belong to. How do we choose? Is there any one church “closer to the truth” than another church? Is churchmanship – how the liturgy is done, the liberality of rigidity of the individual church and its leadership, legitimate criteria for making our choice? Or should we commit to attending our parish church and stretch ourselves a little or a lot, rather than shop around to find a good comfortable fit for our personal predilections? These can be difficult questions when we seek certainty or some kind of “authority” that will guide our lives “correctly.” Some people roam all over the place until they find what for them is a right match.

Recently, I reviewed the book, The Faith of Barack Obama. The book spoke about his spiritual journey and how he found himself worshiping at Trinity United Church of Christ. The sermon made me stop and think about Barack Obama’s spiritual journey and Sarah Palin’s spiritual journey. Gov. Palin was baptized a Roman Catholic as an infant and later baptized into the Assemblies of God church as a teenage and her religious beliefs strongly shape her politics.

I disagree with her politics. I disagree with the underlying theology that shapes her politics. I disagree with the way she demonstrated her beliefs at the Republican National Convention. Yet, I would not be so bold as to suggest that the churches I have attended throughout my spiritual journey nor the churches that Barack Obama has attended are any closer to the truth that the churches she has attended.

Back to Rev. Hay’s sermon.

Yet for Christians there is a common thread that will tie life together in one glorious bundle once they it and accept it. What is that thread?

Remember the start of today’s epistle. Paul is writing to the newly formed community of faith in Rome, and he says this, “The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet – and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”’ If you love others – I’m paraphrasing now – you will never do them harm; to love your neighbor then, is to obey the whole law.

I remember at various youth groups, years ago, singing, “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I worry about Sarah Palin’s brand of Christianity. Too many people I know, have rejected Christ because of strict legalism, because of feeling unaccepted because who they are doesn’t fit the model of who conservative Christians think they should be.

So, I pray that we as Christians get back to that common thread that Rev. Hay preached about this morning. I pray that our candidates will stop showing hatred in their attack-laden political speeches. I pray that all Americans might be able to see the love of Christ in the words of both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

I guess Rev. Hay summed it up nicely at the end of her sermon,

One reason we worship together each week is to remind ourselves that at the center of our life and the life of the world, is not conflict, or tensions unresolved or stuff avoided or internecine wars, or liberals versus fundamentalists, or despair, or cynicism, but Jesus Christ and the love of God. We are Christ’s mission to witness through our words and actions that God is at work reconciling this world into the light of peace.

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Palin and peace

Sarah Palin a Christian?

I don't agree with the way

One reason we worship

will give us

Bible thumpers

thanks a lot