Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sarah Palin advocates a theocracy, and isn't laughed off the stage

I've written before about Sarah Palin's vast misunderstanding of the Founding Fathers and the First Amendment in particular, but this is starting to get a little ridiculous. At an evangelical women's conference in St. Louis Friday night (which didn't allow press), the former half-term governor yet again distorted the Framers' beliefs to suggest they would support a theocracy, as she apparently does. Greg Sargent of The Plum Line obtained a transcript of Palin's speech:
I beg you, Women of Joy, to bring light and be involved, loving America and praying for her. Really, it is our solemn duty. Praying for true spiritual awakening to overcome deterioration. That is where God wants us to be. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers. And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life.
The last line of Sargent's post is, I believe, the most important: "There was a time when this sort of thing would provoke widespread media mockery and perhaps even be seen as a potential disqualifier for the presidency." Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly explains why Palin is so staggeringly uninformed:
The amusing aspect of this is the notion that the United States would return to its roots with support for National Day of Prayer observances. That's backwards -- Thomas Jefferson and James Madison explicitly rejected state-sponsored prayer days.
Never mind that Jefferson literally invented the term "separation of church and state," believing the First Amendment's Establishment Clause specifically puts a wall between the two. That Jefferson, like several other Founding Fathers, is considered to have been more Deist than Christian. Jefferson even edited his own version of the Bible which removed all references to angels, the Trinity, Jesus' divinity and resurrection. Does that sound like a strict follower of Christian dogma?

Palin's mental leap from "...believed in God" to "...believed religion should be an integral part of government" indicates a phenomenal misunderstanding of both history as well as logic itself. But the Founding Fathers seem to have been used to dealing with such ignorance. In an 1813 letter to John Adams about the edited Bible, Jefferson says the "simple evangelists" "have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from [Jesus], by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves."

Funny, he could have been describing exactly what Palin is doing to the Founding Fathers.

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