The Magazine

Clinging to Her Religion

The faith journey of Sarah Palin, 'Bible-believing Christian.'

Sep 29, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 03 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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She's also been mostly on the sidelines with respect to same-sex marriage and abortion, issues often seen in religious terms. Running for governor, she expressed support for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and opposed abortion except to save the life of the mother. She said she was as "pro-life as any candidate can be," citing her belief "in the sanctity of every human life." As governor, however, she hasn't pushed for an amendment forbidding same-sex marriage or for laws or policies embodying her pro-life sentiments.

Indeed, the so-called social issues have not figured prominently on Palin's to-do list in government. Rather, what has preoccupied her, as Bitney points out, are the traditional issues of state governance. "Look at the [public] record," he says. "She's pushed for the development of the gas pipeline, for ethics legislation, for economic development, for jobs, for less government."

To be sure, Palin did sign a proclamation last year declaring a week in October "Christian Heritage Week" in Alaska. The point was to remind Alaskans of "the role Christianity has played in our rich heritage." The proclamation does not declare Alaska a Christian state or the United States a Christian country. It quotes various Founders (in some cases out of context) and highlights the influence of Christianity in the past--just as the Supreme Court does when it undertakes to uphold, say, a Ten Commandments display in a public place. Some people may get worked up about this proclamation, but it is essentially benign, fully within the well-trodden ground of America's civil religion.

Finally, no discussion of Palin's religious biography would be complete without mention of her infant son, born after a test revealed his Down syndrome, and the child her 17-year-old daughter, unmarried but engaged, is carrying. In America today, some 90 percent of pregnancies where Down syndrome is diagnosed are ended by abortion, as are roughly half of all teenage pregnancies. The Palins' Christian convictions best explain their countercultural decisions in favor of nascent human life.

Voters are free, of course, to make what they will of Palin's religion. It is part of who she is. And together with her hunting and fishing and lifetime membership in the NRA, her Bible-believing faith reminds the country of the vast cultural differences between the two parties--which is part of why Palin continues to excite the Republican base.

Terry Eastland is publisher of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.