Saturday, October 18, 2008

Articles of faith: Sarah Palin v Joe Biden

There has been much discussion in all sections of the media about the faiths of the two vice presidential candidates - Governor Palin and Senator Biden. Mrs Palin is an Evangelical Protestant, and Mr Biden is Roman Catholic. Yet the faith of only one candidate is mocked, satirised and scorned, and is deemed to constitute evidence for a manifest lack of fitness to hold such high office.

Cranmer has a genuine question, to which he would like his intelligent and erudite communicants to turn their thoughts.

Sarah Palin reportedly speaks in tongues and attends a church which advocates ‘creationism’.

Whether or not she does is not the issue. But let us suppose she does.

Why should that render her unfit her for high office any more than, say, belief in transubstantiation or papal infallibility?


Anonymous Smith Dorrien said...

Good point your grace.

I tend to think that even among the secular media, the tenets of Catholicism are given more respect - as there's a dim awareness that they have been held and debated by learned and holy men for millenia. Whereas the snake-handling outfits that Mrs Palin and her ilk seem drawn to are usually the domain of fraudulent Elmer Gantry types in the more intellectually barren backwaters of the USA.

18 October 2008 at 13:19  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Smith Dorrien -

Doesn't 'speaking in tongues' emanate from the same era as 'this is my body'?

18 October 2008 at 13:42  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

The intellectual barrenness of Catholicism and why Protestant Fundamentalism is more accurate to the Bible and more faithful

18 October 2008 at 13:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Sarah Palin's religion has been made a central part of her political persona, she is Sarah Palin, Hockey Mom, and slightly fundamentalist Christian, that is how she is being sold, and as much her religious views are a valid target.
Joe Biden on the other hand is not being sold as Joe Biden, Catholic. I would guess that a fairly large percentage of His Grace's readers, while knowing SP's religious views would not have known JB's

18 October 2008 at 14:17  
Anonymous TBF said...

Anon@14.17 Bollocks, Biden's faith was a BIG issue and Obama played the card for weeks to placate those who doubted his (Obama's) Christian credentials. Biden's a Catholic and the Democrats have used his religion just as much as the Republicans have used Palin's. Cranmer is right that it's journalists and the media that treat them differently.

18 October 2008 at 15:02  
Anonymous Rebel Saint said...

The pentecostalism of Palin is more often than not practiced by "working class" christians. Therefore it's usually held in contempt by the intelligentsia. The experiential faith of Rednecks and Chavs is obviously not as valid or credible as the cerebral & literary religion that Jesus himself would endorse! The comments on your post on Oct 4th is evidence of that.

18 October 2008 at 15:28  
Blogger Holy Smoke said...

Biden doesn't uses his Catholic faith in his political decision making process. He and most politicians do not live their faith. They use it as a card to connect to certain voter groups. The mainstream media does not understand or want to understand Evangelicals. They are lumped together under a single label of right wing religious fanatics. The media seems to enjoy labeling people who do not agree with its agenda as either stupid, fanatic, or right wing. Apparently Palin lives her faith and it affects her political decision making process. The media elitist have decided Palin's views should not prevail or even be understood. Palin is a threat to their ideal world which they believe will be fulfilled by the coronation of Obama their chosen messiah. Intellectual journalism died along ago in the US.

18 October 2008 at 15:38  
Blogger Ttony said...

On a point of order, Mr Archbishop: what makes you think that Senator Biden believes in transubstantiation or papal infallibility? His appears to be a "pick and mix" Catholicsm.

Anyway, on to your question:

the usual objection to "speaking in tongues" is that rather than speaking foreign languages inspired by the Holy Spirit, the speaker is normally suffering from a mild dose of hysteria (google for glossolalia and phonology). It is instructive to note that at Pentecost the Apostles spoke in their own language, and the crowd heard them in their own.

Creationism is mocked because it is overtly anti-scientific: it presents a faith-based proposition which is easily disprovable (by the scienctific method). This irks rationalists, because the scientific method is axiomatic to and in their world view. They find it impossible to accept that anybody with any intelligence could possibly be a creationist.

18 October 2008 at 15:47  
Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Interesting how your communicants refuse to say 'I'. I believe that people who claim to speak in tongues (and that is what they are doing - claiming, not speaking) prove themselves to be unstable by the very act.

It isn't a belief. It is far more than that.

18 October 2008 at 18:08  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Ms Snuffy,

Most interesting.

At what point does a belief become far more than a belief? And if this is not merely a belief, what is it?

Mr Ttony,

You may well be right. There are those who might refer to 'pick and mix' Catholicism as Protestantism.

18 October 2008 at 19:12  
Blogger the doctor said...

I believe that the debate regarding Sarah Palin's faith is a smoke screen to hide the Democrats fear of the good lady . I look forward to the " Palin for President " campaign in 2012 .

18 October 2008 at 19:18  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace

Ms Palin's appearances on the television screens are a direct confirmation that she 'speaks in tongues'. I have found her every pronouncement to be unintelligible.

18 October 2008 at 21:20  
Blogger ManMadeMound2 said...

There's some more Sarah Palin footage here...

18 October 2008 at 22:22  
Blogger Stefan said...

Your Grace,

You know what papal infallibility really means, I am sure! As for transubstantiation (if one really must use Aristotlean terms to describe the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass), belief thereupon is rarely a sign of mental imbalance...

18 October 2008 at 22:47  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Speaking in tongues is clearly referred to in Acts 2:6-12 and Acts 2:26-33 where the apostles speak to the nations in their own languages, this is not some incomprehensible meaningless uvular trills purporting to be the language of Angels. Aside from the obvious flaw in the argument that never seems to occur to these snake oil salesmen that as spiritual beings Angels have no use for a specifically vocal language of there own, (nor the means to enunciate one). The former being based on scripture the latter, made up nonsense

As for Real Presence (the T word) of Christ in the Eucharist we have Jn 6:52-58, Jn 6:60 and Jn 6:66-69.
Jn 6:35-71 - Eucharist promised
Mt 26:26ff (Mk 14:22ff., Lk 22:17ff.) - Eucharist instituted
1Cor 10:16 - Eucharist = participation in Christ's body & blood
1 Cor 11:23-29 - receiving unworthily his body & blood
Ex 12:8, 46 - Paschal lamb had to be eaten
Jn 1:29 - Jesus called "Lamb of God"
1 Cor 5:7 - Jesus called "paschal lamb who has been sacrificed
Jn 4:31-34; Mt 16:5-12 - Jesus talking symbolically about food
1Cor 2:14-3:4 - explains what "the flesh" means in Jn 6:63
Ps 14:4; Is 9:18-20; Is 49:26; Mic 3:3; 2Sm 23:15-17; Rv 17:6, 16 -
to symbolically eat & drink one's body & blood

On the other hand creationism in evangelical terms of the earth only being 6,000 years old or so, is disproved by science. Once again the former based on scripture the latter, made up nonsense

For proof of papal infallibility from Holy Scripture see Matthew 16:18, Luke 22:31-32 and John 21:15-17, I can also provide proof of papal infallibility from tradition, but evangelicals are not big on that either.

Now Mr Cramner where in Scripture does it says a British reigning Monarch can usurp powers to themselves and claim ecclesiastical, spiritual and temporal dominion over the Church? Finally the former based on scripture the latter, made up nonsense.

Apart from that Mrs Palin is Christian and Pro Life and that’s enough to warrant unremitting attacks from the BBC/Guardianista chattering classes, which can’t be bad can it.

18 October 2008 at 23:53  
Anonymous judith said...

"At what point does a belief become far more than a belief?" - perhaps at the point where the obsessives insist on imposing their beliefs on others who think differently.

Sometimes those rabid obsessives even burned dissenters at the stake, didn't they, Your Grace?

19 October 2008 at 00:05  
Blogger Damo Mackerel said...

Homophobic horse. There is nothing barren with Catholicism. Some protestant churches I've being into are clinically sterile, not a scrap of art or any symbols to be found. Those images you would find in a Catholic Church are not graven images but they are images that allow us to focus on what is being expressed. In order words, mere thoughts alone are not sufficent to highlight the reality that they point too. True graven images are money, drugs, promiscuous sex etc.

19 October 2008 at 00:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is'nt it the simple fact that Gov.Palin is pro-life,while Joe Biden is a 'cafeteria catholic'who has no problem with the abortion question.The Media will always give a pro-lifer a hard time. BIG TOM.

19 October 2008 at 01:01  
Anonymous tiberswimmer said...

Your Grace, I do believe 'anonymous' to be right on the money with this one. If Senator Biden had been true to his Catholic faith's absolute prohibition on procured abortion, then I suspect he and his religion would be subject to a similar outpouring of sulfurous abuse from the liberal-left media. But then he (almost certainly) would never have made it so far in the Democratic Party in the first place.

19 October 2008 at 03:34  
Blogger Holy Smoke said...

The argument is Sarah Palin reportedly speaks in tongues and attends a church which advocates ‘creationism’. While Biden supposedly has a belief in transubstantiation or papal infallibility which is debatable. I think it would be a different story if Biden attended a Charismatic Catholic Church or a Trinatian Catholic Church and espoused the beliefs of a charismatic or a pre-Vatican II catholic. The media would have attacked him and he would never have risen to prominence in the Democratic party.

The US media wants a Hilary Clintonesque politician. A women politician must believe in feminism, abortion, multiculturalism and socialism. Any women politician failing the media litmus test is to be pilloried and driven from the public square.

19 October 2008 at 06:27  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Your Grace! I'll argue that, under your conditions, Palin would be more fit for high office than Biden.
Speaking in Tongues:
1. Responses to YG show meanings varying from ‘babble,’ through ‘Babel,’ to my dictionary definition: “...the speaking of wholly or partly unintelligible utterances thought to form part of an unknown language or languages and considered by (esp. Early) Christians to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.”**
2. In America, at an Anglican service, volunteers read aloud from the Whit Sunday reading, each in a different language. This ‘speaking in tongues’ unbridled multiculturalism, but also transmitted the Word to all!
3. Another manifestation: Quakers speak at Meetings “as the Spirit Moves.” William Penn, a Quaker, promoted religious toleration; he founded Pennsylvania.
4. The principle of ‘making sense’ of utterances from within the self extends to a student who produces an incoherent draft and subsequently converts it into a clear thesis.

If Mrs. Palin works in any of these traditions, I suggest that she ‘seeks after truth’: a quality that befits high office.

1. If Palin’s father was a science teacher, she might interpret Genesis symbolically while appreciating the empiricism behind any scientific search for knowledge about Creation.
2. The dictionary shows that creationism includes the “...theory that God immediately creates a soul for every human being born.”** If the belief disqualifies people from high office, it excludes RCs.

Transubstantiation: Literalist interpretation of the Eucharist.
If Biden subscribes to the doctrine, his case: i) is as unscientific as six-day creationism, ii) ascribes magical power to priests, iii) favours alchemy over chemistry. If, as a political leader, Biden applies that approach to rhetoric- then he prefers spin over the search for reason and truth.

Papal Infallibility: The Holy Ghost may work through a pope; but, a man who claims infallibility..? Protestants deny the perfection of popes and refuse them the right to require submission from our leaders.

Conclusion: Literal views of Genesis and ‘freudianista’ approaches to glossalalia are unintellectual; but sophisticated interpretations relate to searches for truth, which Palin might prefer. Transubstantiation and Papal Infallibility are RC doctrines. They require belief in alchemy, or invoke suspension of disbelief - as if to theatre. If a high office holder took either approach to Papal Infallibility, the political ramifications could jeopardize the sovereignty and power of the U.S. - especially as the Treaty of Rome takes its final form.

[**Dictionary definitions from The Chambers Dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap, 2003.]

19 October 2008 at 08:44  
Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

A belief becomes pernicious when one acts in such a way that is disingenuous because of the belief. When Sarah Palin speaks in tongues (or indeed anyone), they are pretending.

This assertion of course depends on whether one believes it is possible to speak in tongues - whether it is possible for the Holy Spirit to 'speak' to people in this manner. I do not believe it to be so. Neither do I believe Sarah Palin thinks it so.

So I think she is lying when she is speaking in tongues. When she 'allows the spirit to take her', she is not doing this at all. She is acting.

Believe in God, believe there is a purple elephant in the room, for all I care. But lie to me, and then I lose faith. Not to mention that she gives Chritianity a bad name. Christians aren't crazy. She is.

19 October 2008 at 10:02  
Blogger Unsworth said...

@ The Recusant

If, as you say of Speaking in Tongues, "this is not some incomprehensible meaningless uvular trills purporting to be the language of Angels.", what language is it that Ms Palin uses when interviewed on the television?

Perhaps you have some knowledge of this - and could suggest an appropriate dictionary to enable me to understand what she seems to be uttering.

19 October 2008 at 12:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The left do not concern themselves if a Democrat claims to be religious because they assume he/she is lying.

Whereas they believe that a Republican is telling the truth.

19 October 2008 at 13:26  
Blogger Botogol said...

In a democracy I would hesitate to say that any of those beliefs render a person 'unfit' for public office. If people vote for them, well, that's what democracy is.

I do think it's a shame, though, in this day and age, that beliefs in one version or another of the supernatural don't drive voters away.

19 October 2008 at 13:35  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

I'm a papist and inclined to agree with botogol. However, the creationist aspect of Mrs Palin's belief does place her way outside the scientific mainstream as well as mainstream biblical exegesis - what was a 'day' before the creation of the sun (day four?). Whereas beliefs relating to papal infallibility and transubstantiation can not be verified in a science lab.

19 October 2008 at 16:34  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

i read Smith Dorrien with interest.

"Whereas the snake-handling outfits that Mrs Palin and her ilk seem drawn to are usually the domain of fraudulent Elmer Gantry types in the more intellectually barren backwaters of the USA."

My understanding is that Governor Palin attends a non denominational Church.

There is in this country a tendency to join the liberal tendency to fall into insult and name calling at a very early stage rather than deal with the argument specifically.

Have you noticed that whereas Sarah Palin so quickly got tagged with a label by the Obama adoring media for being "stupid" they have let Joe Biden off without
a single joke.

Is there no satire in the fact that he was one of only 5 senators to vote against the Alaska pipeline which now delivers 20% of America's oil? He did so because it would endanger the moose. Since the pipe line has been built the moose population has gone up six fold.

Similarly in the VP debate Joe Biden gave as an example of foreign policy co-operation the "success" of the US and "our ally France" ( ho ho) in driving Hezbollah out of Lebanon. He is of course only the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee and so cannot be expected to know anything about the rocketing of Israel. Does any comedian raise a comment on Saturday Night Live or the News Quiz?

More widely, in the US it is lawful to simulate sex in an expression of free speech on the streets of San Francisco but not for a school sports team to pray for fair play before a match. No scope for humour there plainly.

Christians need to wake up to the deeply unpleasant fact that increasingly on both sides of the Atlantic any one of them stating their faith in the public arena will attract to personal attacks upon their integrity and ill informed abuse. Whilst I have no doubt that the splendidly pugnacious Sarah is quite capable of looking after herself if given a platform, I do worry about how younger children might be intimidated in the schools as a result of this liberal preference for early recourse to bullying.

19 October 2008 at 16:54  
Anonymous invincibly ignorant said...

''I have found her every pronouncement to be unintelligible.''

'' enable me to understand what she seems to be uttering...

Are you quite sure these comments don't say rather more about you than Sarah Palin?

19 October 2008 at 18:35  
Blogger Ttony said...

Mr Archbishop, you wrote: "There are those who might refer to 'pick and mix' Catholicism as Protestantism."

But surely not you? Surely you didn't go to the stake thinking that "Protestantism is Catholicsm minus the bits I don't like"; Catholicsm-lite as it might be called nowadays! Sureley you believed in something - not something-minus.

19 October 2008 at 20:10  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Ttony,

Only a fool would martyr himself for something-minus.

19 October 2008 at 21:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that Biden accepted the VP nominee position from a politician with the most extreme pro-abortion rights voting record in Congress shows exactly how seriously he takes his faith.

Palin, however, means it.

19 October 2008 at 22:05  
Blogger Ælfheah said...

Sarah Palin isn't being mocked because of her religion. She's being mocked because she actually believes in her religion (or at least she pretends to). Mr. Biden, on the other hand who is a Roman Catholic but also pro-abortion, clearly does not.

19 October 2008 at 22:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your Grace.
while people must decide for themselves what they believe in
or not, one feels it only fair to point out that due to the current lack of eyewitnesses to both the creation & the original occurence of speaking in tongues any opinion
is simply that, an opinion! thus evolutionists & atheists have their faith and creationists & christians have theirs, many scientists believe in creation & I believe that many catholics claim to speak in tongues, but what this has to do with the ability to hold high office is beyond me, unless of course the main ability for many politicians today is the ability to speak with forked tongues.

19 October 2008 at 22:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference is that the Evangelicals actually *believe* what they say they do whereas the catholics don't. That is what makes the prospect of President Palin so chilling.

20 October 2008 at 11:12  

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