Friday, September 05, 2008

Governor Palin, Put Away Falsehood

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 [1]. 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 [2], 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.

Brian McLaren
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

Vince Miller
Georgetown University

Peter Vander Meulen
Coordinator, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church

Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins
Nineteenth Street Baptist Church

Bart Campolo
Urban minister, Founder of Mission Year

Sharon Daly
Former Vice-President of Catholic Charities

Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus
Vice-President for Social Justice, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Delores Leckey
Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center
Former Director of the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Add your name here...


wilsonian said...

I seem to be reading a lot of people who thought her speech was fantastic... just the kind of Christian witness we expect.


Heidi Renee said...

major sigh. that that is what masquerades for christianity now, that vile, sarcastic meanness.

if i speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love...

nikkirae said...

I didn't watch it but I'll take a look at it. Thanks for the information.

cliffyworld said...

Here is my take on Palin. Read this article: Be Careful What You Say While Campaigning…. God May Be Watching.

random bob said...

It's scary to me that she can be so see-through, not bother to make any real points, and basically just slander (by definition, to give false or misleading statements about someone) her opponents, and everyone cheers her on and thinks she's a wonderful person.

The right-wingers seem to have corralled the idea of "morality" and "godliness," so much so that no matter whether what they do fits into their teachings or not, they just say that it DOES and everyone flocks and gets all rabid.

Where's our critical thinking gone? Christ would be disappointed.

For the record I'm an agnostic but admire Christ's teachings -- I think he was a wonderful figure who has rather unfortunately had his teaching's twisted way out of context of recent... :-(

Heidi Renee said...

hey bob, thanks for your comment. it truly does seem like the lies are being called the truth, and the truth lies. i look at the polls and feel like i'm living in the twilight zone.

i think that fear has become the motivating factor in much of the church and when others can engage that fear the sheep are easily swayed.

thanks so much for your comment. just so you know there are lots of us who do take those words seriously and seek justice, love mercy and try to walk humbly with our god - i think it might be those very things that make us quieter than the vocal right wingers... ironic isn't it?

random bob said...

Yes, rather ironic, and in fact is one of the main reasons, I think, that they've had such success. Since the FCC repealed the mandate for "equal airtime for opposite viewpoints" in the late 1980's/early 1990's, we've seen people come to the forefront that are simply mongers: Limbaugh, O'Rielly, et al.

The problem is, now it's turned into a yelling match. To the outside observer (and this is true throughout history, see: witch hunts, etc), he who yells loudest and instills fear of "the other" must be right! After all, why would they be yelling so much while "the other" is not?

It's a situation where the vocal right is taking advantage of the softer left; they yell louder and don't give a fair shot to the left, and the left – bless their hearts! – continues to rely on logic and decency. The problem lies in the fact that again, to the outside observer, the one yelling SEEMS right; they SEEM to have "won" the "debate," because they SEEM "strong" and "righteous."

There's no need to debate the actual issues anymore; just yell a lot and call names; makes you sound tough and thus the weak of character follow, and never get out of the trap of weak of character (instead continuing to to just follow instead of critically assess the platform, usually out of that riled fear of "the other")