Monday, October 6, 2008

Palin Mania: "Life Abundant" for the Christian Right

A friend sent this on. Thoughtful piece on Sarah Palin's form of Christian triumphalism, hidden at this point in the campaign, but certain to inform any decisions she would make in office.

Palin Mania: “Life Abundant” for the Christian Right

Stan Moody

October 6, 2008

At a Democratic House caucus meeting on faith in politics in 2006, Congressman Tom Allen (D-ME) asked me as a panel member, “What role does Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount play in the politics of the Christian Right?” He prefaced the question with the answer he had gotten to that same question from an evangelical pastor friend of his in Portland, ME, who told him that the Sermon on the Mount was for a later time.

The question has haunted me ever since in the face of such revolutionary ideas as these:

  • loving and praying for your enemy
  • praying for and doing good to those who persecute you
  • turning the other cheek
  • doing your good works in secret rather than in public
  • avoiding public displays of prayer
  • forgiving those who offend you
  • avoiding the pursuit of money
  • avoiding worrying about your life
  • avoiding judging of other people
  • avoiding false prophets

When we measure our lives by the standards of the Sermon on the Mount, there remains little room for political assassination of the kind we are currently experiencing in this election season. The trend of the evangelical Christian Right to postpone this pesky worldview until Jesus returns reflects a church that has tired of waiting for God and has decided to take matters into its own hands.

Win, draw or lose, the Christian Right is here to stay. Giving the “devil” his due, we can only hope for their sakes and for that of our nation that the principles of the Sermon on the Mount are indeed put on hold for a future time, for they have been violated in every sense of the Word with the rise of neo-conservatism in America. The frustration of being a “believer in an un-believing world” has evolved into a form of populist anarchy, where the proletariat – Christian and non-Christian alike – is rising against an elitist agenda of enlightenment and change with all their uncertainties.

Gov. Sarah Palin is the current poster child for this uprising of the disenfranchised, bewildered by a chronic fear of facing squarely the issues of our day and compensating by trafficking in certainty, no matter how irrelevant or arcane.

A recent article by author Sarah Posner sheds light on this phenomenon.[1]

According to Posner, the Wasilla City Council unanimously passed a resolution in April, 2000, joining some 200 other towns and cities nationwide that have committed themselves to becoming cities of character. As a “City of Character,” Wasilla endorsed 49 “character qualities” derived from the Bible and taught by the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), an organization formed by evangelist Bill Gothard in 1974 for the purpose of “…giving families, churches, schools, communities, governments and businesses clear instruction and training on how to find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture.”

Posner writes that IBLP claims to have taught these principles to 2.5 million people (not the least being Sarah Palin in 2000) and boasts assets exceeding $100M.

The training has found its audience among conservative Christian churches that march in lock-step to 19th Century Premillennial Dispensationalism, a doctrine that asserts the right of dominion of born-again Christians over America and the world. According to Posner, the objective is to fulfill God’s goal to “…transform believers into the image of His Son so that they may be a reflection of the character of Christ,” ignoring, of course, that worldly success and the character of Christ are opposing worldviews.

What this means to the Christian Right in America is to take hold of the political reins of power in our nation, restore to Israel the borders promised by God to Abraham no matter who gets in the way and replace with Old Testament precepts the Constitutional guarantees of protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority, a decidedly New Testament concept. By so doing, a thin veneer of character masks the kind of underlying corruption that we have witnessed of late with unbridled, unregulated capitalism. It is a form of optimism that focuses on appearance rather than reality – the spin rather than the facts. Jesus referred to this kind of religiosity as cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside remains filthy.

Indeed, the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount have no place in a world in which Christians are focused exclusively on their own success and the avoidance of any semblance of persecution, historically the driving force behind Christianity.

Stan Moody

Stan Moody, founder of the Christian Policy Institute and The Hope Partnership (, has served in the Maine House of Representatives...He is an Advisory Board member of "Jews-On-First" and the "Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism." Dr. Moody is the author of several provocative books, including, "Crisis in Evangelical Scholarship" and "McChurched: 300 Million Served and Still Hungry." Pastor of a rural country church in Central Maine, Moody has enjoyed a long and productive career in small business development and management.
Stan Moody

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