Memo to church leaders: How to handle political controversy
Posted by sanityinjection on September 3, 2008
In the wake of John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, the media naturally is inquiring about her religious beliefs. Palin was born into a Catholic family, but while she was growing up her family began attending services at Wasilla Assembly of God, where she was rebaptized. Although Palin and her family have attended a different Protestant church since 2002, Wasilla Assembly of God naturally got a lot of media inquiries about the Governor. In response, the church leadership issued a public statement.
Why is this important? Because I don’t think I’ve ever read a political statement from a church that is better than this:
“Governor Sarah Palin did attend Wasilla Assembly of God since the time she was a teen ager. She and her family were a part of the church up until 2002. Since that time she has maintained a friendship with Wasilla Assembly of God and has attended various conferences and special meetings here. This June, the Governor spoke at the graduation service of our School of Ministry, Master’s Commission Wasilla Alaska.
We have had some inquires into Governor Palin’s beliefs. We do know that Gov Palin is a woman of integrity. She is a servant of the people, she is a strong leader. As for her personal beliefs, Governor Palin is well able to speak for herself on those issues.
As Alaskans we are excited about our Governor being selected as the nominee for Vice President. As residents of Wasilla, we are ecstatic about one of our own being thrust to the national forefront. However, as a church, it is not appropriate for us to endorse any one candidate over another. As believers, we are reminded in 2 Peter 2.13 that we are to submit to those in authority. 1 Timothy 2.1-2 tells us pray for those in authority. This we will do no matter who is elected. We wish the best to Governor Palin, and Senator McCain, as well as to Senator Obama and Senator Biden. May God continue to bless America.”
The church has done a great job here of walking a difficult tightrope. On the one hand, they want to convey their warm feelings and high regard for a “local girl done good” whom they probably feel is like a family member to them. On the other hand, they do not want to take sides in an election contest which will surely find members of their community and even their congregation holding opposing views. The statement manages to handle both those obligations and concludes nicely with a reminder that ultimately, whoever is elected will be the President of the entire country, and therefore deserving of the prayers of all Americans of good faith. And does it all with reasonable brevity, to boot.
Speaking as someone who used to write political statements for a living, I salute whoever drafted this beauty – you are a gifted individual.
More on Palin’s church here: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/website-with-sp.html