Since John McCain picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, there have been numerous reports in the news regarding her faith, the churches that she has belonged to, and her public statements regarding religion. Is this fair game? You bet it is.
Separation of church and state is a fundamental principal upon which this country was founded. Trying to gauge any politician’s views related to religious freedom and separation issues is important. Palin’s history makes this even more so because of her affiliation with fundamentalist Christian churches.
Creationists and other fundamentalist Christians have been waging a war on science for decades. (Actually it’s been going on for centuries. Ever hear of the Inquisition?) In America, there have been wars in school districts and college campuses over what constitutes science and what should be taught as science. The evolution debate is the most obvious but Creationists also have issues with virtually every branch of scientific discipline since they believe only in the literal interpretation of the Bible.
So what are Sarah Palin’s beliefs? Well it’s no secret that she attended a Pentacostal church in Alaska. The church is widely known to hold very sctrict Fundamentalist beliefs. Does she herself hold these beliefs? She has stated that she thinks that Intelligent Design should be taught in science class but to be fair, she didn’t persue that as Mayor or Governor.
“She’s obviously an intensively religious person,” said Bill McAllister, Palin’s chief spokesman as governor. “She understands that she’s the governor and not preacher in chief. Religion informs her decisions, but she is not out to impose her views on Alaska.”
Take from that what you will.
This week, another news report in the LA Times provides some additional insight. A Wasilla resident stated that she told him that she believed that humans and dinosaurs lived together and that the Earth was only 6,000 years old. This is a widely held belief by many Creationists in the US.
So is the jury still out on Palin? I’d say no. In my opinion, she has clearly demonstrated that she holds very deep Creationist views. The danger is that in order to hold these views, one must accept that the MAJORITY of western science is simpy wrong. Geology, archeology, atronomy, physics, chemistry, and of course biology all describe a natural world and universe that simply can not coexist with the literal Christian scripture. How can any politician, never mind an executive of a country, make informed decisions based upon scientific data if they believe that the majority of science is just wrong? How can the leader of a country make policies if they don’t believe in scientific data.
I know that she is only running for the office of VP with no direct influence on policy decisions but she would be one step away from the most powerful position in the world. We’ve already had eight years with an administration which has stifled the voices of the government’s own scientists. We can ill afford another four.