I am loathe to give any word space to discussing Sarah Palin. I think the majority of Americans don’t pay her any attention. Yet, here I find myself discussing her because I have a feeling millions of Americans are about to pay money, once again, to hear her bile, or rather read it in the form of her new book about how America is destroying Christmas, or some such nonsense. You can read a right-wing summary of her argument here.
I ordinarily do not enjoy bringing religion into political debates because I think that Jesus Christ would not wish to see sacred things treated with the amount of respect that partisan politics in America brings to anything. I want to have greater respect for His teachings than what Sarah Palin brings to the table.
But I feel like that some in the American right, people like Sarah Palin, are taking things way too far by politicizing religion and it is time that reasonable people speak up on behalf of what is right. For example, not only has Sarah Palin made Christmas now a political issue, (and if you don’t think she is politicizing the issue, you really should hear some of the soundbytes from her book here), but she also thinks it is okay to put the Pope in her sights and tie him into American partisan politics. In regard to the Pope she says, “‘He’s had some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me.”
This is precisely what happens to a person when your brain only actually thinks of things in terms of political maneuvering and not in terms of what is right and what is wrong in a moral sense. When you are Sarah Palin, the idea of serving the poor, ministering to the sick and afflicted, and taking a more compassionate view of people’s lives is viewed as “liberal” and not as “Christian.”
I am pretty sure the strongest forces that undermine Christianity and religion are not forces that come from outside of the faith community, but those that come from within the faith community and profess themselves to be believers. Sarah Palin is an example of that. She is one of the merchants in the temple, seeking to profit off of a book about Christmas (that really is a thinly veiled attempt to garner cheap political points) instead of sacredly treating Christmas as a time to serve others quietly and forgo the commercialization that has really ruined the message of Christmas. She is part of the commercialization, and for that reason, she is unable to recognize what true Christian service is anymore. Again, I wouldn’t care about this at all if there were not so many people lapping up her reasoning and acting as if they are some oppressed minority because a store clerk at the end of some commercial transaction says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Instead, of focusing on their alleged “religious persecution”, I wish people would actually take time to look outward and seek greater compassion towards other people. I know that is what I need to do more every single day of my life. I am far too selfish. I am grateful for religious leaders from all different faiths who remind us that the foundation of any true religion is built on service and selflessness. In my own faith tradition, we know that all of the inequality that exists in the world (that Pope Francis brings attention to in his ministry) is a direct result of our own sins (see Alma 28:13). This kind of inequality and lack of compassion and empathy from others is what destroys churches and faiths (see 3 Nephi 6:10-15). In other words, it isn’t external forces (like liberal atheist Christian-haters) that destroy faith; it is pride within. The church falters because so-called believers seek “power…authority…riches…and the vain things of this world.”
I am going to try particularly hard this year to follow the example of people like Pope Francis or the righteous people in Alma who were “abasing” themselves in the following verses of Alma 4:
11 And it came to pass in the commencement of the ninth year, Alma saw the wickedness of the church, and he saw also that the aexample of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus bringing on the destruction of the people.
12 Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the aneedy and the naked and those who were bhungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.
13 Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the apoor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of bafflictions, for Christ’s csake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy;
14 Looking forward to that day, thus aretaining a bremission of their sins; being filled with great cjoy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and ddeliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.
I think Sarah Palin should reconsider her position.