Eugene Cho

sarah palin and evangelicals

I’ll post more thoughts tomorrow about what I like and dislike about Sarah Palin.  Speaking with the press [Seattle Post Intelligencer in this case] is always interesting:  you say tons of stuff and it get deduced to a sentence or two.  At least, Leah Klug, one of our pastors actually got a paragraph and a front page picture of her suddenly looking really holy.  [And no, your eyes are not deceiving you.  Leah has long hair, feminine facial features, and is actually a woman.  Oh the scandal of female pastors!]

How do you feel about Sarah Palin?  On the eve of the most important debate of her life – which not only will make its mark on this election but in my opinion, will determine her future political aspiration…

Here’s one nice opinion from the Seattle PI blog that clearly proves my point that there are so many misperceptions and baggage about the large umbrella of evangelical Christians.   Thoughts?

Who gives a rip what these Dark Age knuckle-draggers think? I’m tired of listening to these bozo evangelicals and their bigoted deranged Stone Age discussions about “faith” and politics. Give me a friggin’ break!

Just because charlatans like Fallwell, Dobson, and Robertson got them all wound up over Reagan’s attempt to establish a faux-constituents in the 80’s, by pandering to these easily deceived sycophants, is no reason to keep asking them about their opinions!

I’m friggin’ sick of their opinions, because in my opinion, people so poorly educated with regard to such irrefutables as science should not get press time.

Can we get some other demographics opinion for a change? Heck, what about Latino Roman Catholics, or Quakers, or Dutch Reformists, Scientologists, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, Shintoists… why must we always hear the nonsense from these ridiculously intellectually backward people!!

Here’s the article entitled, No Free Pass for Palin, some local evanglicals say:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s evangelical beliefs, pro-family views and call for change in Washington, D.C., might seem enough to attract like-minded state voters eager to place an unabashed believer in the White House.

“I don’t always vote for evangelicals just because of their faith, but it’s an easy call for me when good leaders and faith intersect like this,” said Alison Estep, 44, a communications specialist in Seattle.

But other evangelicals say excitement over Palin has cooled because of questions about the Republican vice presidential candidate’s qualifications.

“I don’t want to know, necessarily, that she shoots moose — more power to her — but I want to know what her foreign policy is, how she would address education and health care in this country,” said Leah Klug, 29, an associate pastor at Quest Church in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood.

Interviews with more than a dozen evangelicals in the Seattle area this week showed support for Palin ranged from unquestioned to uncertain. Most looked forward to seeing Sen. John McCain’s running mate perform unfiltered and unprotected in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate.

Media focus on such personal matters as Palin’s unwed and pregnant daughter, coupled with criticism of Palin’s rare interviews, has led some evangelicals to rise to her defense.

” ‘Saturday Night Live’ characterized her as a bimbo who does not have a clue. I think that’s terribly unfair,” said Issaquah resident Sandy Howard, 66. “I hope she really shows them Thursday night and gets a fair shake from the media, too.”

Howard, a clinical exercise physiologist in Everett, considers herself “more of an independent than a staunch Republican.”

Mike Johnson, director of a homeless shelter in Seattle, said he was leaning toward McCain, “but with little enthusiasm.” His interest shot up when Palin joined McCain, said Johnson, 39, who is pleased that Palin she opposes abortion, supports nuclear power and is “not an inside-the-Beltway political figure.”

That Palin energized many evangelicals is undeniable, said the Rev. Paul Smith, 62, of West Side Presbyterian Church in West Seattle. “She brings a fascinating dynamic to what was shaping up to be yet another ‘good ol’ boys’ campaign. But I am less likely than many to give her a free pass just because she is an evangelical Christian. I want to see a breadth of perspective, a genuine humility, a demonstrable wisdom, a gracious spirit and a practical approach to political realities, to go along with her solid values.”

Evangelicals are doctrinally conservative Christians who emphasize the authority of the Bible, the need for conversion to faith in Jesus Christ and the responsibility to share that faith with unbelievers. They are not monolithic, whether in the church or at the polls, said Klug and Eugene Cho, lead pastor at Quest Church, part of the Evangelical Covenant denomination.

“One set of viewpoints (that society holds for evangelicals) is that you must be pro-life, must be Republican, must be very conservative,” Klug said. That’s not the case at Quest, where to be “pro-life” means not just opposing abortion, she said, but reducing abortion rates by supporting social services, reducing poverty and taking other actions to help people throughout their lives.

“To make (Palin) the poster child of ‘evangelicals’ is simply wrong,” said Cho, 38. “She cannot speak for all evangelicals and should not be expected to.”

It is Palin’s positions, not her faith, that trouble Yasmin Ravard-Andresen, 27, a staff worker for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Washington and a supporter of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

Emphasizing that she was speaking only for herself, Ravard-Andresen said: “I fundamentally disagree with most of Palin’s perspectives on the world, this country, and what true ‘victory’ (in Iraq) would be.”

Some prominent officials of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. and one that interprets Scripture to say that women cannot lead a church, said they held no objections to Palin’s candidacy.

Given Palin’s historic position on the GOP ticket, Klug said she hoped the party had chosen a “more qualified” woman.

Others called the experience factor overstated.

“The qualifications for president are based more in personal character and values than upon any particular experience or individual qualification,” said the Rev. Joe Fuiten of Cedar Park Assembly in Bothell.

Some evangelicals saw hypocrisy in Palin’s opponents.

“Where are the feminists when it comes to supporting Sarah Palin?” asked Seattle resident Jill Campbell, 46. “I find it interesting for them to snub her when we thought that she would be exactly what feminist groups have been working toward for years — a working professional mom on the presidential ticket.”

Smith, remains an undecided voter but is intrigued by Palin. “Whether or not she is elected, I would hope to see her grow on the national stage,” he said. “It seems likely that she may have much to offer in the national conversation.”

Until then, said Seattle resident Janet Jones, 48, “we will pray for the election … and put it all in God’s hands.”

Filed under: politics, religion,

30 Responses

  1. I feel like McCain showed poor judgment in his VP pick. I am not anti-McCain… but I do feel like the Palin pick was short-sighted and aimed at only getting a bump in the polls. She is vastly under-qualified. I also feel like Biden wasn’t the best pick for Obama. His message of change (and bringing change to Washington) contradicts Biden as his VP. Biden has been in Congress 10 years longer than McCain. I relate it to Ron Paul getting the republican nomination and then picking McCain as his running mate.

    I will be watching the debate tonight. Hopefully both VP candidates can prove me wrong.

  2. randplaty says:

    Hmm I too have concerns with Palin’s qualifications. She doesn’t seemed to be well versed in the nuances of policy making. She seems to take a stand and adhere to it no matter what. She is very principled and I admire that, but a lot of policy is not going to be about principle. At the same time, its very difficult for me to say that Obama is more qualified than Palin and he’s at the top of his ticket. Although he comes across as very nuanced, some of his comments about energy and Afghanistan and Russia/Georgia show that hey really doesn’t have a thoughtful position that comes from experience. His thoughtful/nuanced positions seem to come from a desire not to alienate any voters which is troublesome also.

  3. JB says:

    Sometimes you’ve preached about how people seem almost embarrassed to admit they are Christians. Sarah Palin, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson….these are the reason why. They not only are Christians, they hold themselves up as the public face of Christianity, they present their positions as being the official view of Christianity, and they make all the rest of us look bad. As do the people who claim Sarah Palin is qualified: just as with those who argue that dinosaurs and people walked the earth at the same time, the only people who argue that Palin is well-qualified are evangelical Christians. No one else. The rest are left scratching their heads and wondering what’s in that communion wine.

    Yes, we are all one family and every family has a crazy aunt or grandpa. But we wouldn’t make our crazy aunt or grandpa the family spokesperson, would we?

  4. I live in arguably the most conservative town in the country–Dayton, Tennessee, home of the famed Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. An Obama supporter, I was a little dismayed to pick up the local paper to read the headline “Dayton Invites Sarah Palin to Speak.” The people here absolutely love her.

    Quoted in the article was a local Palin supporter who said “[Dayton] is essentially the Bible Belt. Palin is going to be the candidate of evangelicals, so what better place to speak than on the steps of the Rhea County Courthouse where William Jennings Bryan so eloquently defended evangelical Christianity in 1925?”

    The candidate of evangelicals, huh?

    What happens to me during an election year is this: I wonder if I’m actually an evangelical. I identify with many traditionally evangelical theological positions, and yet all the polls and news stories seem to suggest that I don’t think, live, or vote like most evangelicals in this country. I spend a lot of time asking myself, “Can I be an evangelical and support gay rights?” or “Can I be an evangelical and rejection young-earth creationism?”

    I blogged about the Palin/evangelical connection myself this week. I’m sorta having a faith crisis over the whole thing!

  5. Aaron says:

    I like what Leah said about being ‘pro-life’ and I am glad that it was publicized.

    As far as Palin goes… I am concerned that I continue to hear an ‘us vs. them’ mentality and that war is the best way to bring peace. I am not sure if it is or isn’t, but to me the ends just do not justify the means. I am not sure she has the knowledge of foreign policy or economic policy that would be necessary if she were to become president. She strikes me as a very simple person (very firm in her beliefs, set in her ideals), but I am not sure she can handle the complexities of our future.

    I also find it interesting, as Leah pointed out on her blog, that a lot of people who previously feared women in leadership (whether spiritual or political) now think Palin is the best thing since sliced bread.

    I am just hoping that the U.S. will move forward as a force for good in this world. I am not sure she is the (VP) candidate to do it.

  6. Jeff Lam says:

    who knows how smart or competent palin “actually” is, but judging by her few (but damaging) media appearances, she will make for anything but a competent vice president. while i appreciate someone who represents everyday people, i need someone with exceptional intelligence and conviction in the white house, not a political gimmick.

  7. Rick says:

    The opinion from the Seattle PI blog is disturbing because it probably comes from someone who imagines themselves tolerent and open minded but is more hateful and distasteful than anything I’ve ever heard from any person self-identified as “evangelical” that I have ever been personally acquainted with.

    Like JB, I do not identify with the individuals whom he characterizes as self-appointed “public faces of Christianity”, but I would differ with him on the premise that Palin fits that characterization. I’ve never heard or read anything leading me to suggest that she has said anything that can be fairly interpreted as “I speak for all Christians”.

    Just as Aaron observes that people who were not supportive of women as leaders now support Palin, so I am intrigued that those who were advocates of women at every level of leadership, and of the premise that women can “have it all” suddenly are alarmed and terrified that a woman might actually make it to the White House, and suddenly are declaring that she just couldn’t do all that and still be a good mother.

    I was not among those who feared women in leadership of any kind, though I have little good to say about a lot of women in political leadership – not because of their gender but because of their ideology. And I am not among those who think that Palin is the best thing since sliced bread, though I have been favorably impressed on balance with her articulate expression of her values, many of which are more similar to mine than those of the Obama campaign.

  8. john says:

    i see a lot of people deriding mccain for his choice of palin, and i think that’s missing the point completely. mccain made a great political choice, palin made a very ambitious career choice, but the american people are the ones that come out looking bad in all of this. most of the polls has the popular vote even at 50-50. that means half of america are with mccain on his palin selection.

    it seems to me that this is an attempt by the republicans to fight a culture war against barack obama — to extend in the public conscience the socially constructed view of an american as a white cowboy (in this case, cowgirl) for a few more decades. this, of course, is an attempt to turn america into a land for white folks who identify with those ideas of america while infringing and alienating every other race and tradition as “the other.”

    i never thought the religious right was fighting a culture war on religious values. i always thought it was a culture war for ethnic sensibilities and ownership over what “america” and “an american” is. if you listen to palin’s views on homosexuality or abortion, they are VERY moderate. yet the conservative base loves her because she’s a hunter/cowboy/non-elitist (read: has a bad gpa). that half of the americans — and most culture warriors — are fully in support of mccain and palin tells me that this is a war against the idea that a black man can be just as american as a white cowboy.

  9. Kari Byrd says:

    I would like to speak to the issue of feminism and the choice of Palin. I agree with the people who say that it’s sexist to accuse Palin of choosing her career over her family. Nobody would ever say that about Obama. However, I believe McCain chose Palin because she was a woman, not because she is the most qualified for the job. He needed a bump in the polls. There are many more qualified Republicans who could have been his running mate. I honestly think he took a look at her and said “You’re an attractive, conservative, evangelical woman. PERFECT.” And there’s nothing feminist about that. In fact, that sets us back. We want to be chosen because we’re the most qualified and we happen to be female. She didn’t crash through any glass ceilings. She was offered a rope and they pulled her up and said “Look everybody! We like women too!” It’s sad.

    On a personal note, the idea of Sarah Palin as President keeps me up at night. As my Alaskan cousins said, she’s a fine Governor of Alaska but she is absolutely not qualified to be President of the United States.

  10. gaius says:

    i think the wisdom of this choice will depend a lot on how one thinks people vote…
    if they do on logic/evidence, this doesn’t bode well…
    if, on the other hand, they think people vote based on emotion, perception, and party lines, then mccain has it…

  11. DanW says:

    I was going to say that, unless you have hip waders on, you ought not visit the “reader comments” at the end of the article. I guess it’s good to know what some people out there really think of us. . .

  12. jHong says:

    although there is a wide spectrum of voices and varying degrees of bias and information, i think in the end Governor Palin kinda speaks for herself:

    INTENSE. we’ve already had an inarticulate boob be the voice of our country for the past 8 years, forgoodnesssakes.

  13. Aaron says:

    @Rick, your argument presumes that because people are supportive or encouraging women in leadership that they should support all women in leadership, despite the qualifications or abilities of the person. Just because people are for women in leadership positions, does not mean they must support Palin, or that it is inconsistent to not support Palin if they do not feel she is a good leader for reasons other than gender.

    @John, so McCain chose Palin on the basis of racism? To keep African Americans out of power? Wowzers. Just because people support McCain (me not necessarily being one of them) does not mean his VP choice is their first pick. I am not sure I follow your argument.

    @Kari, I agree!

  14. eugenecho says:

    @JB: i understand and agree.

    but slowly but surely, you are beginning to see the shift happening. “evangelical” is a broad word that is often misconstrued by so many.

    i don’t think @john was saying that palin or mccain is racist but that there may be some who embrace the two because of fear. to call them as such would be clearly wrong. but to be naive and not consider that WE ALL have our biases, prejudices, and fears would be wrong as well.

    @danW: been in that pool many times.

  15. eugenecho says:

    and one more thing,

    let’s be honest here. leah looks very evangelical in that picture. 🙂

  16. Tom says:

    I have very mixed feelings.

    On the one hand, I like many things about her, and I’m delighted to see a woman get the opportunity to run for Vice President. She seems bright, accomplished, energetic, and far more ‘real’ than most packaged politicians. It’s no small thing to be governor of an American state, even if that state is more of a federal ‘colony’ like Alaska.

    On the other hand, she seems clearly in over her head and woefully unqualified to be president, which is what we’re talking about here. I’ve watched all her interviews and was shocked at her obvious lack of understanding of many key issues and her inability to articulate clearly. I mean, Tina Fey got huge laughs on SNL lampooning her by actually quoting her Katie Couric interview verbatim in a skit. I’m truly hoping she’ll do better in the ‘debate’ format tonight.

    I’ve been following American politics fairly closely for many years and I never thought I’d see the day when many leading conservative thinkers and writers would outright identify a Republican candidate for Vice President as ‘clearly unqualified.’ Some of them have actually called for her to step down. Kathleen Parker, for one, wrote what was–to me–an astonishing column the other day asking Palin to get out of the race for the good of the country. Parker is one of the most reflexively conservative columnists I know. Wow. As a side note, their honesty won them a lot of points with me–nice to see that folks can make a clear call sometimes without all the partisan spin.

    I actually feel for her. I know she accepted McCain’s invitation, but he put her in a place to be ridiculed publicly for her obvious lack of qualifications and readiness. I agree with a few of you that his choice was thoroughly cynical and sort of a hail Mary too. Nobody makes a choice like that unless they feel they have little chance to win and need to gamble big time. Given Obama’s clear and rapidly increasing lead in the polls, doesn’t look like the gamble is paying off.

  17. Rick says:

    Aaron – point taken. The flip side is also true. The perception that some evangelicals have issues with women in leadership roles does not lead to the conclusion that they have issues with all women in leadership roles. So it comes down to this: Those who have supported women in all levels of leadership and yet oppose McCain/Palin have this one thing in common with those who’ve been wary of women in leadership roles and yet support McCain/Palin: their judgment is not based on any consideration of gender; instead it is based on their personal sense of resonance with the party and policies of the ticket. If one side is guilty of flipping, both are; if one side is innocent of that charge, both are. None of us can successfully make the claim that “My side is and always has been internally and externally consistent, but yours is not”.

  18. elderj says:

    have you posted what you like and dislike about the other candidates? If so, I missed it. If not, then why her and not the others?

  19. eugenecho says:

    yes you missed it and also, it’s my blog. 🙂

  20. eugenecho says:

    @elderj: it’ll be fun meeting up someday and having our dream come true.

  21. chad m says:

    i’m still trying to figure out what to do when folks at my chuch say, “i don’t know much about this election, but i love Sarah Palin.”

    then, because i’m trying to pay extra special attention this time around after making monumental voting mistakes the last two times, i say, “why?”

    they respond, “i just like her. there is something about her i like. she is great.”

    seriously,i’ve had several coversations like this over the past month. it makes me scared. and angry…

  22. elderj says:

    chad m – your sentiments are much like those expressed by people who talk to diehard unreflective Obama supporters. Both camps have their share of “He/she just makes me feel/think/hope for change/security/hope because she/he really understands people like me/ the middle class/ average Americans. Most people don’t vote on policy or qualifications. People vote on core principles + intuition. There are people who like Obama before they’d ever heard anything the man was for other than change and that he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Other people like McCain for the same reason. People usually get a gut feeling about someone and then work from that to build a case and generally ignore contrary evidence after they’ve landed on a candidate. This is actually a very useful way of making decisions in most of life.

    The problem in politics is that the information we receive is incredibly distorted and so we really don’t have the kind of information we most need to make good choices and political campaigns become performance theater. Candidates come on stage and act like they’re going to do xyz and we all act like we believe them.

    The reality is, no one knows how or what a presidential administration is going to perform because things change. If 9/11 hadn’t happened, who know what kind of pres Bush would have been. If he had died in 2003, people would said he was the greatest president ever because he was still riding the wave of popularity from 9/11.

    I think it is better to look at a persons record of deeds done (or not done) in assessing their leadership rather than their policies, because executive leadership is not policy driven. If a person says they want to be bipartisan, look and see if their record shows a history of bipartisanship. If it doesn’t then the rhetoric doesn’t matter. If they say they will have a reform agenda, check the record and see if that’s what they’ve done. If they have, then believe them.

    We ended up with Bush because lots of people were willing to believe his rhetoric rather than examining his record. Knowing his record of poor executive leadership prior to the presidency, why is anyone surprised that he hasn’t done a stellar job as chief executive? It’s hard to remember, but people voted for Bush for many of the same reasons they are voting for Obama: they were tired of partisanship, they wanted change from the Clintons who were constantly dogged by rumors of corruption, they wanted a different “tone” in Washington.

    Neither of the major candidates has an executive leadership record to examine (except Palin), so you can look at their legislative records and campaigns. We know Obama’s career has not been marked by significant legislative achievements and that his voting record has been rather liberal and many of his associations have been rather radical. We know also his campaign was rather divisive among democrats so despite his speeches to the contrary he hasn’t shown a lot of history of actual bipartisanship.

    Whether you agree with these characterizations of the campaigns or not, my point is that deeds done is a much better indicator than speeches, debates and campaign rhetoric. The governance style and leadership instincts will assert themselves no matter what the particular issues that present themselves.

  23. elderj says:

    @eugene: I’m looking forward to it, and I hope I don’t have anymore dreams about you. 🙂

  24. […] say Evangelicals won’t give Palin a free pass for automatic […]

  25. Ben C says:

    It’s mind numbing to think that some people actually believe that Palin is in the near vicinity of approaching any semblance of credibility and intelligence to hold, by title, the second highest position in the exec branch of our government.

    This is like that naked emperor children’s story. Are you kidding me?

  26. 3mily says:

    the p-i soundoff section is one of the most reliably monolithic groups of voters who will spout off against anything that isn’t fashionably left-wing… as opposed to unfashionably left-wing (liberal voting evangelicals). any posting related to a church always gets variations of the same response. it’s the same mindset you’ll find in-person all over the city. it’s one of the reasons that Quest and other local churches with any energy need to always remember that our calling to go out into the world starts five feet out of the church.

  27. […] i really like sarah palin…but not in that way Sarah Palin is all the buzz nowadays.  Or at least since McCain startled the nation by naming her as his Vice-President running mate.  Till then, no one – outside of Alaska and diehard Republican political junkies really knew who she was. As you might have expected, the traffic on search engines on “Sarah Palin” have been through the roof.  Last week, the local Seattle PI paper stopped by Quest to interview couple of us which also led to a front page photo of our church sanctuary [and one of our pastors]. […]

  28. eugenecho says:

    @3mily: well said. well said.

  29. […] it was Playgirl.  Some didn’t like the quote in the Seattle Post Intelligencer about my lack of support for Sarah Palin and the GOP since all good Christians vote Republican.  And then of course there were those who were annoyed […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

#notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times. Minhee and I are filled with gratitude as we reflect on the @onedayswages gala last night. So many friends and guests came to support our work...and of course, our scrappy staff, interns, and board. In 8 years, we've impacted 561,000 people around the world that are living in extreme poverty and vulnerable situations. This year, we are expecting to have our largest investment of grants at $1.3 million! Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to share some of those stories of impact.

But we need your help to keep growing this work. Because our pledge is for 100% of all donations to go directly to our partnerships, we're asking folks from around the world to consider becoming one of core supporters by simply pledging $25/month to support our operations. Go to for more info.

photo: @vinylee

my tweets