31 August 2008

Palin, children, and the man upstairs

I was chatting about the recent political events with a lovely member of my family yesterday who largely sits on the other side of the ideological fence and, like me, has lived and worked with Catholics for many many years, so, like me, has a realistic, respectful, and sometimes (politely) sardonic view of various religious backgrounds. We wondered aloud to each other what religion Palin is--which variety of Christian?

We pondered (without doing research), based largely on the children factor. Basically the number of children she has spread out over the number of years, plus her stand on abortion, means Catholicism is in the picture. Except that Catholics tend not to proselytize in this way--they know they are right, so why bother trying to convince others? There's a respect for other beliefs with most Catholics, and the aborted babies are innocents, so they get to heaven (I think limbo has been eliminated recently? different dinner conversation from the other night...) and while they see abortion as wrong/murder, the Catholics tend to take the long-term view that includes the afterlife that, well, they also believe in.

upon reading the post about Down Syndrome over at FFB this morning, I did a quick search on Palin's religion to find that others had also been musing on this. Seems she was baptized Catholic (ding!) and now attends a 'non-denominational Bible church'. Link

All of this is intriguing. But perhaps the most intriguing part of this is the level of religion discourse in both campaigns. Some places claim it's been high, but I didn't sense much at the Dem's convention, and since the blow-ups about the ministers/spiritual advisers to each of the candidates earlier in the campaign, there hasn't been much with the God going on. Or I should say, the candidates seem not to be talking about their faith as they did (were forced to) in earlier campaigns. My British colleague, who was watching the Obama speech live (at 3 am) with me over video iChat (I heart Apple), asked mid-way through: where's the God? Has America changed? Or is it just a moment where that's not what we talk about--politics is okay, religion and money still taboo...thoughts?


tenaciousmcd said...

A couple of points. First, Obama and McCain just did a huge faith discussion in tandem interviews with Rick Warren (of A "Purpose Filled Life" fame) at his Saddleback Church a few weeks ago. It was their first and only "joint" appearance to date. So this issue is certainly out there.

But insofar as it seems less visible, I suspect that this is b/c we're off script. Obama talks very easily about matters of faith, much more so than most elected Democrats, while McCain does not. McC has embarrassed himself a little on the church membership question, not sure whether he's still Episcopalian or now a Baptist b/c that's the church he claims to now attend (but doesn't really seem to). Religion usually becomes an issue when the GOP pushes it onto the table, but as a result of the specific players this year, they've been hesitant to do so. They're better off if the keep the "Obama is a Muslim" whispers bubbling beneath the surface, unexposed to the light, while their guy gets to avoid explaining why James Dobson wouldn't vote for him (at least until that Palin had been added to the ticket).

tekne said...

Yes--I was aware of that Rick Warren discussion, but I was more concerned to note the absence of a sprinkling of the religion question throughout the campaign (my faith, my church, when I go to church on Sunday--these types of phrases) that I seem to recall in earlier campaigns. Addressing religion in a staged interview with someone in a controlled setting, where religion is marked as the subject, is important, yes, but strikes me as a different flavor of religiosity within the campaign. Like it's ghettoized off to the side. Which is intriguing I think.

And yes--the GOP seems to have a lot at stake in keeping religion not on the surface, so that makes sense this time around...