Religious experts to left: Um, Palin's "witchcraft" blessing isn't that weird

Yeah, turns out Christians have been known to pray for protection from supernatural evil. And Christians from parts of the world where people believe in witchcraft have been known to pray for protection from witchcraft specifically. Who could have guessed, except for me, Ace, and everyone else who doesn’t hate Palin passionately?

To blame for the misunderstanding: McCain, of course, because he didn’t carefully explain a belief system that anyone could learn about by opening up an encyclopedia.

The “witchcraft” line in particular caught the attention of liberal pundits and bloggers. Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” called the video “terrifying” and said it made the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the much-criticized ex-pastor of Barack Obama, look “pretty mainstream” in comparison.

But religious experts said there was nothing untoward in the video, which they said shows a fairly routine religious ceremony. Misunderstanding over it has grown because of the McCain campaign’s refusal to comment on the video, suggesting that the campaign was on uncomfortable footing with Palin’s religion, the experts said.

Jacob K. Olupana, a religion professor at Harvard, said the campaign appears to have been caught flat-footed when trying to answer questions on Palin’s faith. “I’m not sure they understand it,” he said.

“What you saw was something very basic that happens in a Pentecostal church,” said Anthea Butler, a religion professor at the University of Rochester. “You would see this in any Pentecostal church on any given Sunday.”…

“I don’t know why they are making a big thing out of it,” Olupana said of the media reaction to the video. “Witchcraft as part of a belief system is real to the people who live there,” he said, noting that there was “nothing unusual about what happened.”

Exit question: What would the campaign have gained by commenting on the video? Liberals who think this is irredeemably nutty won’t be swayed by the fact that McCain doesn’t or that a lot of Pentecostals don’t either.

Update: Tangentially related per the point about hating Palin passionately, here’s some graffiti a reader in Seattle spotted. I’m guessing whoever did this is very concerned indeed about that withcraft business.