At least this smear didn’t have anything to do with Sarah Palin’s gender, but it also didn’t have anything to do with the truth, either. Critics have pointed to Palin’s Pentacostal religion as evidence of religious extremism, criticizing the practices of their church, as our NARN producer Mathew Reynolds noted on Thursday. The Miami Herald reported on Palin’s religious spookiness:
Sarah Palin often identifies herself simply as Christian.
Yet John McCain’s running mate has deep roots in Pentecostalism, a spirit-filled Christian tradition that is one of the fastest growing in the world. It’s often derided by outsiders and Bible-believers alike.
Palin was baptized Roman Catholic as a newborn. She was then baptized in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church as a teen and attended that church until six years ago, when she and her family adopted a different home church, an independent evangelical church.
The New York Times debunks that particular myth today in a look at Palin and the role religion plays in her life. Deep into the article, readers find this factoid that the Miami Herald somehow missed:
One of the musical directors at the church, Adele Morgan, who has known Ms. Palin since the third grade, said the Palins moved to the nondenominational Wasilla Bible Church in 2002, in part because its ministry is less “extreme” than Pentecostal churches like the Assemblies of God, which practice speaking in tongues and miraculous healings.
“A lot of churches are about music and media and having a big profile,” Ms. Morgan said. “We are against that. That is why it is so attractive to politicians because they can just sit there and be safe.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of their people when the other churches get too extreme,” Ms. Morgan continued. However, she added, “If you lift your hands when we’re singing, we’re not going to shoot you down.”
So much for the Palin-as-religious-extremist theme. Even if one was inclined to think of Pentacostalists in such terms — and I’d recommend Matt’s post for an exploration of why it’s not extremism but merely enthusiastic expression — Palin clearly wanted a quieter form of worship. The Herald didn’t make the significance of their move clear, and wanted to leave the impression that Palin’s religious beliefs somehow made her part of a fringe movement.
Still waiting for the Palin-as-extraterrestrial story to appear on MS-NBC ….
Update: Our first comment on this post points out something remarkable about the national media. How long did it take for them to investigate the political radicalism at Trinity United Church of Christ and Jeremiah Wright? 15 months. How long did it take for them to start with Palin and her religious beliefs? Less than a week.