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Barnes: Scrutinizing Palin's Religion

4:10 PM, Sep 10, 2008 • By FRED BARNES
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Now that Sarah Palin's religion is an object of intense scrutiny, the media finds itself, for the umpteenth time, applying a double standard. Her belief that the universe is no accident but was created by God and her habit of praying have been noted and dissected in the mainstream media. So have other aspects of her faith, including her former attendance at a Pentecostal church.

Well, what about the religious faith of Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden? (And for that matter, what about John McCain's religious views?) The media, so far at least, has scarcely examined the faith of the Democratic candidates at all. In Obama's case, the flap over his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, involved Wright's political views, not Wright's or Obama's religious beliefs. Nor did Rick Warren, when he interviewed Obama and McCain at his Saddleback Church recently, explore the depths of their faith. Warren asked Obama a single, general question about what his faith meant to him.

If the press would like to apply the same standard to Obama and Biden as it has to Palin, the questions that might be asked are fairly obvious. For starters, do they agree with Palin that God created the universe and, if they pray, what do they pray for? Also, do they believe in such tenets of Christianity as the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection? Since Biden is a Catholic, he could asked if he believes in transubstantiation -- that the bread and wine taken in communion become the actual body and blood of Christ? Also, does he believe in papal infallibility?

My guess is the media wouldn't dare ask these questions. Nor should they be asked. That's exactly the point. In Palin's case, the media has taken the unprecedented step of treating a national candidate's religion as a target for aggressive news coverage, as if her faith were as legitimate a matter of scrutiny as her views on taxes or spending. A line has been crossed - but only with Palin.