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Sarah Palin’s “Scary” Christianity

Posted on July 22 2010 10:00 pm
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.
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Palin America

As incontrovertible proof of a media smear campaign against Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election has come to light, one revelation the Christian community may find most disturbing  is the existence of an anti-Christian culture among those who participated in the  Journolist forum. In the context of coordinating this media attack on Sarah Palin, Daniel Levy apparently experienced no hesitation at all in using the word “Christian” as a characteristic that should be used to “scare people”.

“This seems to me like an occasion when the non-official campaign has a big role to play in defining Palin, shaping the terms of the conversation and saying things that the official [Obama] campaign shouldn’t say – very hard-hitting stuff, including some of the things that people have been noting here – scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia[n] wing-nut a heartbeat away …… bang away at McCain’s age making this unusually significant …. I think people should be replicating some of the not-so-pleasant viral email campaigns that were used against [Obama].”

Days later, Levy did just that as he penned an article which has a clear aim to steer Jewish readers away from Sarah Palin based largely on her Christianity and with a few outright lies thrown in for good measure.

But the more important development is likely to be the GOP’s decision to tightly embrace a politics and style that creates a maximum discomfort amongst even those parts of the Jewish community that were beginning to be susceptible to McCain’s appeal. Part of this is a deep seated, understandable, and very real tension between the world views of the Christian right and of the mainstream Jewish community.[…]

[…]Palin is about as right-wing as it gets when it comes to the ideological and value issues she promotes. She has the hard right, Christian conservative wing of the electorate highly enthused and mobilized. Jewish voters and Jewish values tend to sit uneasily with positions such as making abortion illegal (even in cases of rape and incest), teaching creationism in school and blurring the separation of religion and state, and banning books–all positions espoused by Governor Palin.[…]

[…]But there is also a Jewish specific cause for concern in the Palin pick. Just three weeks ago, with Sarah in attendance, Palin’s church hosted the Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, David Brickner — a group much criticized by the ADL. As Ben Smith pointed out in Politico, Brickner “described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God’s ‘judgment of unbelief’ of Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity”. Palin’s Pastor at the Wasilla Bible Church, Larry Kroon, warns of God taking retribution on a sinning America. She trades on an anti-intellectualism and playing of small town vs big city or suburban America that is alienating to most Jews. Mayor Koch is right: this is “scary” stuff.[…]

Yes, “scary” stuff indeed, but without much basis in reality. While Jewish blogs Sultan Knish, Israpundit, Doc’s Talk and many others offered issues-based analysis of the decision Jewish voters faced in that election, Levy was busy convincing readers that Sarah Palin’s Christianity, along with the “inexperience” factor, should be “scary” to Jews. Quite thoroughly, he followed through with the plan he offered to his compatriots on Journolist just days before.

All who hate bigotry and value religious freedom would do well to consider that Christianity was listed by Levy as a stand-alone point among a list of things the media might use as a tool with which to “scare people”. It’s important for Christians to ask if any Journolist members disputed the point with him, but whether any did or didn’t, proof of a troubling reality remains. Levy considered this Journolist culture to be anti-Christian enough that he not only felt comfortable offering the idea but also did not seem to sense a need to offer any clarification regarding why Christianity might be considered “scary”.

It should be further noted that in targeting Palin’s Christianity as “scary”, Levy seems to have taken a page directly out of Saul Alinsky‘s Rules for Radicals using a strategy Alinsky described thusly: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Alinsky held that “there is no point to tactics unless one has a target upon which to center the attacks.” Clearly, Sarah Palin’s Christianity, in and of itself, made her an automatic target in Levy’s eyes.

There are some who might argue that Barack Obama is also Christian and that such an attack would be pointless in light of that, but it is not lost on progressives in the media that Barack Obama’s professed Christianity was little more than a political crutch used to gain inroads with Christians a la Saul Alinsky.

Obama calls his years as an Alinskyesque community organizer in Chicago “the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.” But as radicalism expert Richard Lawrence Poe has noted, “Camouflage is key to Alinsky-style organizing. In organizing coalitions of black churches in Chicago, Obama caught flak for not attending church himself. He became an instant churchgoer.”

True to his anti-Christian theme, Levy nowhere mentions Christianity in regard to Barack Obama. Instead, he made the shocking claim that Republican criticism of Obama amounted to anti-Semitism.

“[…] perhaps most bizarrely, the types of attacks used by leading Republicans against Senator Obama should be making Jewish voters feel distinctly uneasy — they are taken straight from the vernacular of classical anti-Semitism. “

Levy’s attack on Sarah Palin’s Christianity and his claim that criticism of Obama is based in anti-Semitism is a breathtaking example of the perils Christians seeking high office might be expected to face even if they are strong supporters of Israel like Sarah Palin. More troubling by far is the revelation that Levy’s Journolist cohorts apparently approved of the scheme.

For more about Saul Alinsky and the media, visit Discover the Networks.


Follow Lisa Graas on Twitter and visit her blog at

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