Sunday, March 29, 2009

From the vault: more "liberal balance" at Fox News

I was flipping through my notes just now and came across another fantastic example of what constitutes "balance" at Fox News. This particular instance comes courtesy of "Democratic strategist" Kirsten Powers, whose main purpose on the network has been for the most part to agree with Michelle Malkin about how unhinged "the left" is.

I have jotted down that Powers was disturbed by people, aka "liberals," questioning Sarah Palin's statements about God and Iraq.

Right, because only the unhinged would be troubled by a person who would be first in line to fill the presidency potentially believing that the world is approaching the End Times and that the United States by invading and occupying Iraq is carrying out God's plan for the end of the world.

Frederick Clarkson explained to Amy Goodman what Powers doesn't seem able to comprehend. (I'm bolding a key point)

FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, I’m most concerned with the point that you raised earlier, and that is her well-documented belief that she’s living in the “end times,” we’re all living in the “end times,” and that her interpretation of the Book of Revelation may be driving her public policy and particularly her foreign and military policy views.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what is meant by “end times.”
FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, that means that if you take the Bible, and you begin with Genesis and Creation and the Book of Revelation, which describes God’s plan for the end of the world, we’re at the end of the book, and that it ends in a bloody conflagration before God’s people are saved. And she and people who think like her believe them, themselves, to be the people who are going to be saved, and the rest of us are not looking so good.
AMY GOODMAN: And these comments about the war being a task of God, the Alaska pipeline, you know, praying for the companies and the people.
FREDERICK CLARKSON: Yes, certainly, the idea that the war in Iraq could be a task of God could be interpreted in that way. But I think, more specifically, it’s a conflation of one’s particular political or public policy views with that of the will of God that makes for a very unstable kind of political thinking.
AMY GOODMAN: In what way?
FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, I mean, that whatever idea may be popping into your head, that you might be inspired to invade a nation, could be the will of God. That’s where it gets very dicey. And sometimes you can find what you’re looking for in metaphor, such as what most of what the Book of Revelation really is.
The Democracy Now conversation points out that America is a secular democracy, yet Palin has long been affiliated with a form of Christian fundamentalism that believes politics should be transformed into a medium for the achievement and promotion of theological goals.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, what about this issue of separation of church and state, even raising what her religion is, that there is a separation? She’s entitled to believe what she wants to believe.
ESTHER KAPLAN: Well, she—again, she comes from a world, a theological world, in which the idea is the role of Christians is to bring God’s will into public life. She hasn’t said that explicitly herself, but there’s no question that, since age twelve, she has been attending churches whose pastors explicitly believe this. She’s said things that indicate that she understands herself that way, as well.
Her pastor at her home church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, sort of takes credit for her election as governor through his prayer. In that same speech that you played excerpts from earlier, she does thank him for that and more or less implies that she also believes that God helped to put her in office. She clearly is not immune to this idea that God is guiding her public life.
And what’s really troubling is she’s been turning down all interview requests to clarify her positions, to clarify—is she a Dominionist? Does she believe in legislating based on the Bible? Her authorized biography almost—I think there’s two or three pages, total, that refer to her religious beliefs at all. There’s a sense that she’s hiding what her true beliefs are. And she needs to answer a lot of questions.
Bruce Wilson at Talk 2 Action also captured the problem with Palin's beliefs

So, religious behaviors, in the case of the Christianity of Sarah Palin's churches, matter insofar as they are yolked to religious doctrines that effect the temporal, earthly realm. Triumphal and exceptionalist religions teaching their believers to "infiltrate" and gain control of governmental, business, educational and media sectors are toxic to the pluralist ethic that has characterized America's over two-century long pioneering experiment with democracy.

That's why Sarah Palin's churches matter : not because people at Palin's churches speak in tongues or for any specific gestural or behavioral expression. These things are deeply felt and not properly mocked or stigmatized, Rather, Palin's churches matter because pastors in those churches espouse an aggressive form of Christian nationalism and also the doctrine that all forms of religious and philosophical beliefs other than their own are invalid and even under demonic influence.
One would think that a candidate for Vice President's political beliefs being informed by anti-intellectual, extremist superstition would be legitimate ground for concern. But not from a go-to "liberal" at Fox News.

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