As Americans and people of faith from around the country, we were extremely disappointed in Sarah Palin's divisive, sarcastic, and often deceptive address last night at the Republican National Convention. We call on her not only as a political figure, but also as a prominent Christian, to recommit herself to campaigning in good faith, with a strong commitment to truth-telling.
As Christians, we are called to be respectful and loving toward our neighbors, honoring their intentions even if we disagree with their plans. We are also called to "put away falsehood" (Eph 4:25) and to refrain from slandering, belittling, or speaking out of contempt for anyone.
If these are the standards God has set for us in our personal lives, our church communities, and our neighborhoods, how much more so should they be the standards of those Christians who choose to be in the public eye? Shouldn't we also expect our brothers and sisters in politics to speak the truth in love and to extend respect and goodwill even to those with whom they disagree?
Sarah Palin has shaped much of her life around her Christian faith . Indeed, it has been continually suggested that one of the major reasons John McCain chose Palin as his running-mate was her Christian faith and her ability to energize evangelical Christian voters. Thus, it is no stretch to say that Palin has suddenly become one of the most visible faces of Christianity in today’s political scene.
As such, we believe she has a calling even higher than her responsibility to her party's victory in November - a calling to represent Jesus to the rest of the world. This is why her speech at the Republican National Convention last night was so disappointing to us at the Matthew 25 Network.
In questioning not only Senator Obama’s policies but also his motivations, and mocking his career, Palin went far beyond what could be considered acceptable disagreement and into what seemed like open contempt for a political opponent.
To be blunt, we saw very little of Jesus’ love in Sarah Palin's speech last night, as she heaped contempt on those who disagree with her politically, while offering no vision for how to resolve the critical issues facing Americans today like job loss, health care, growing child poverty rates and the war in Iraq.
Moreover, as has been documented by major media sources including the Associated Press , Palin spoke falsehoods not only about her own record, but about Barack Obama's record as a State Senator and as a U.S. Senator. As Christians, we are called throughout Scripture to speak the whole truth, to put away falsehood, to bear true witness even when it hurts our own interests. The name of Jesus should never be associated with falsehoods or deception, but last night, in Sarah Palin’s speech, we believe it was.
Therefore, we in the Matthew 25 Network call on Gov. Palin to repudiate her attitude of contempt towards her political opponents and to tell the whole truth, not only for the sake of a more honorable politics, but also for the sake of our Christian witness in the world.
Senator McCain is no less responsible because he selected Gov. Palin and praised her speech, and he claims to be a Christian as well. It is ill-fitting to use Christian identity and language for one's political advantage without seeking to live up to that high calling. Ultimately, as the Presidential candidate, Governor Palin's tone and infidelity to truth reflect negatively on Senator McCain as well.
Author and Pastor
Douglas W. Kmiec
Caruso Family Chair & Professor of Constitutional Law
Pepperdine University School of Law
Rev. Dr. Susan B. Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary
Peter Vander Meulen
Coordinator, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church
Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins
Nineteenth Street Baptist Church
Urban minister, Founder of Mission Year
Former Vice-President of Catholic Charities
Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus
Vice-President for Social Justice, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center
Former Director of the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
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