Saint Sarah (Palin), How About Stupid Sarah Palin
Next Sarah Palin will be called a prophet. This complete Newsweek story is well worth a read not because it reveals much about Sarah Palin, but as it shows much about those who follow one with so little cerebral power.
Like many evangelicals, Garza believes a great cosmic battle is underway for the soul of America and that Palin has been singled out by God for leadership: “The anointing on her is so strong,” she says. Assaults on Palin by the press only strengthen Garza’s conviction, for as any Christian knows, martyrs most deserve to gain God’s kingdom. “She’s just fearless,” Garza says. “Jesus said, ‘They persecuted me; they’ll persecute you.’ ”
To her Christian audiences, Palin talks about her own life in terms of mission and destiny. She was the keynote speaker at a Women of Joy conference in April, a convention of 16,000 Christian women who traveled from three dozen states to Louisville, Ky., and paid at least $79 per ticket for a weekend of praise, song, and prayer. Upon mounting the stage, Palin immediately thanked her “prayer warriors” for the “prayer shield” they built around her. She quoted from Proverbs 3—“Trust in the Lord with all your heart…and he will make straight your paths.” And then she connected herself with Esther. She was explaining the meaning of the Jewish queen’s heroism to her 9-year-old daughter Piper, she said. “[Esther] was out there on the stage, wondering if she’d have the opportunity to be chosen to really help change the world.”
Behind the Christian-military rhetoric, though, is a theology that’s generic, Griffith and other scholars say. (Though the video clip that made the rounds during the campaign of Palin being prayed over by an African minister gave foes on the left the willies, most churchgoing conservative evangelicals were completely unfazed.) In her speeches, Palin never damns anyone to hell. She never talks about sin: discussing her daughter Bristol, accidentally pregnant at 17, she talks about responsibility. When Palin writes about her born-again experience, she talks not about an encounter with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, as so many evangelicals do, but of a sudden awareness of the awesomeness of creation. “Looking around at the incredible creation that is Alaska—the majestic peaks and midnight sun, the wild waters and teeming wildlife—I could practically see and hear and feel God’s spirit reflected in everything in nature.” Palin refers often to Ronald Reagan in her speeches, and even critics concede there’s something Reaganesque about the way she approaches faith. It’s easy. It’s optimistic. It’s future-oriented. “She seems like an ordinary Christian woman who has done extraordinary things,” says Georgetown history professor Michael Kazin.
For all her apparent authenticity, though, Palin’s real motivations remain hidden. (She declined to be interviewed for this article.) The Trig story, moving in its first hearing, turns discomfiting and self-serving upon repetition. Further, Palin’s lack of expertise on policy questions—and her apparent lack of curiosity—bothers not just her critics but even some of her most devoted fans. “I would have preferred for her to stay on as governor and maybe get involved in the policy debate,” says Ruthie McIntosh.