Wow. BTW, never mind the source, per se; more information about the author is below the quote.
The Atheist's Way: An Open Letter to Sarah Palin: "Dear Sarah,
As a former fundamentalist, I'd like to call you on what you are doing. The media has called you “opaque” about your religion, but some of us can connect the dots.
This is not about disrespecting your private beliefs. However, your religion matters to us because it matters to you. You have done and said things that indicate you are a born-again, literal Bible-believing, fundamentalist Christian. This is the most important thing about you and you have not been honest about it.
Most people who have never been entrenched in the subculture of fundamentalist Christianity may not understand what this really means, but I do. Like you, I was raised in the Assemblies of God and I was a zealous part of the Jesus Movement. Like you, my life was consumed with seeking God's will for my life and awaiting the imminent return of Jesus.
It's clear to me that you want to do the Lord's will, as a true believer would be in your position. You talk of the “spirit of prophecy.” You are on a mission from God. If that is not true, then I challenge you to deny it."
Marlene Winell, Ph.D.
October 21, 2008
Marlene Winell is a Bay Area psychologist who specializes in recovery from fundamentalist religion. She is author of Leaving the Fold: A guide for former fundamentalists and others leaving their religion. She is the daughter of Assemblies of God missionaries. A longer article about Sarah Palin's religion is on Dr. Winell's website: www.marlenewinell.net
I figured it would be reasonable to examine the source. Well, she seems to be what she states herself to be, speaking from both personal and professional experience, and has written a much longer piece that addresses some very specific and important questions. Furthermore, I will personally attest that these questions and conclusions about mindset are entirely within the scope of my own experience. I, for what that is worth, am willing to go on record stating that I find her concerns to be, if anything, understated.
The reality of Palin’s religion
The media has remarked that when it comes to her faith, Palin has been “opaque.” They have said it’s hard to tell how much influence her religious beliefs would have on her governing. They have not asked direct, hard questions about her religion, perhaps because it seems too personal or they are trying to respect a separation of church and state. But the truth is, the impact of this particular religion would be huge and we need to recognize it. Her religion matters to us because it matters to her. It’s not too personal when a leader is most of all concerned with enacting the will of God and claims to have direct access to God. Journalists need to ask Palin if she believes the Bible is the word of God, because all else follows.
Palin claims not to be Pentecostal any more but still goes to bible-believing evangelical churches and has active ties to the Wasilla Assembly of God Church. Their “non-negotiable tenets of faith” can be seen on their website and should be required viewing for every voter (http://wasillaag.org/index.php?s=au&nid=3734). We’ve heard about her belief in creationism and Jesus’ return, and seen her denial of human cause in global warming. She has not denied any of the fundamental beliefs that define evangelical Christianity.
Note that she is not speaking against Palin's religion. She's assuming that Palin is in fact a sincere member of that particular faith and that therefore she will be properly guided and informed by that religion in an entirely orthodox way. That is what churches do, that is what they are supposed to do. It therefore becomes quite important to ask - will this faith permit a person of sincere faith to faithfully discharge the duties of their office or (in the case of the VP) the potential duties of President? Can they honestly put their hand upon the Bible and swear faithfully to uphold and defend the constitution of the united states, even when the Constitution and their faith come into genuine conflict?
And of course those of us who are not actually athiests; indeed, those of us who think the Bible worthwhile on it's own merits without any supernatural endorsement have to consider it's council in this matter. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Has Sarah Palin, in her previous offices, acted more in line with her faith, or more in line with the duties of her office?
I think that her policy of charging rape victims for the cost of proving their rape, her well known views on birth control and her absolutely extreme positions on abortion demonstrate that she is, in fact, more influenced by religous doctrine than by concern for the health and welfare of people under her authority.
I have deep objections to the validity of AOG Doctrines and it's "nonnegotiable articles of faith."
Further, I've even more serious concerns about her particular home church, it's practices and it's influence upon her and the people of Wasillia. I consider it an authoritarian cult; it's doctrine Unbiblical, it's practices and professions unethical, immoral with patches of evil.
Tolerance must end at the point where one is tolerating intentional evil in the name of allowing for "differing interpretations" of spiritual truth. This is not because it's "wrong" to tolerate evil. This is because that which is evil wishes to eat you and use your living corpse as a meat puppet. Friends, that would be one of the better outcomes.
The place where you know you have crossed that line of tolerance is when those you are tolerating publicly state they wish to kill you both spiritually and literally and turn all you have made and treasure into the sort of wasteland in which only that which those such as themselves can live within.
NO valid system of morality can be predictably unethical. The core issue for an ethicist discernment; specifically, the risk involved in any particular human action leading to harm to others.
Ethics does not care about alleged consequences in an arguable hereafter - it speaks to specific outcomes in the here and now; real harm to real people.
A religious belief used to justifying the denial of birth control, morning after pills, or even a proper investigation of a rape allegation, such a belief that it is legitimate to over-ride individual judgment of self interest or impose onerous costs - that would obviously, predictably and unavoidably lead to the actual, inarguable harm of real, existing, human beings. That would be unethical; dismissing the importance of the outcome as punishment for sin is, frankly, evil.
The foreign policy implications of a Millienialist mindset - as Dr. Winell points out in passages I have not quoted - are exceedingly troubling. Those who look forward to a "final conflict" in the middle east featuring an atomic Holocaust that requires divine intervention to preserve remaining life - and who look forward to a magical intervention to preserve their own pink assets from the quite literal fallout - should never, ever be permitted to make significant foreign policy decisions or even speak to the issues from a position of secular authority. I think that should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer; there are some beliefs that simply have obvious, inevitable and toxic outcomes.
Whatever the degree of sincerity; a sincere delusion that evil is good is simply a more effective delusion. Sarah Palin must be considered to be dangerously deluded about matters of real, legitimate concern to all human beings.
The most dangerous presumption is - quite literally - an article of faith for Sarah Palin, if we are to take her word for her beliefs; that all people are inherently and willfully evil and that unless they prove otherwise by belonging to a church that believes the exact same things and acts in precise accordance to those doctrines, subsuming their conscience and common sense to the dictates of "anointed leadership" - then they are sinners worthy of death. Clearly the ethical calculus is that harm to a sinner worthy of death is moot; only consequences to "the saved" matter.
And if that is true of human beings, how much less does it matter that animals suffer, that air is polluted or that the oceans rise, drowning people, depleting fisheries and disrupting the world wide ecology? What matter famine, plague, starvation and death, if they be harbingers of Jesus?
Speaking as a committed and mindful follower of the words and deeds of Jesus Christ, one who takes the clear warnings of the Commandments quite seriously as ethical precepts and statements of natural laws as implacable and quantifiable as those regarding thermodynamics - I stand repulsed and condemn any faith that would so transparently act against such a weight of words and the clear evidence of cause and effect while taking the name of Jesus in vain.
No real Christian that believes that faith to be defined by the words of Jesus can possibly endorse acting upon the assumption that such a worldwide disaster as is predicted by end-times cults could ever be a good thing. Period. It requires looking forward to and praying for (a conscious, mindful act with intent, regardless of it's real world effect) an end that will be harmful to every living human being if it occurs.
And that, to me, is a non-negotiable statement of ethical fact. No faith-based band-aid can trump fact. No amount of willful disregard can trump that consequences arising from actions rooted more in faith than in fact are real and do real harm. No amount of alleged benefit in a believed hereafter can justify inarguable inhumane and callus decisions in the here and now.
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