Baptism And Waterboarding: In Defence Of Sarah Palin




Water is good for terrorists.


Sarah Palin has said some words to the extent that if she were in charge she would put some “fear of the Lord” into terrorists and show them that waterboarding is how we baptise them. Shock and horror ensued. I think they are both vastly exaggerated.

The use of the word “baptism” outside of the sacramental context is very old, and certainly perfectly well liked even in times more Christian than ours. The Italian expression battesimo del fuoco (“baptism of fire”) indicates the first time a soldier faces a combat situation, and I have never heard of anyone, Catholic or Protestant, Christian or Heathen, ever complaining for its use. The word “battesimo” is also used, without any evil meaning, by “first time” situations, often unpleasant ones. A fall from the bicycle, say, would have people say to you “oh well, you have been baptised”, meaning sooner or later you would have to fall from the bicycle, and now you are a better cyclist for it. No disrespect to the Baptism is meant. On the contrary, you would rather find these expressions in Countries where pretty much everyone is baptised. I am rather sure many other languages of Christian countries have the same expressions, or similar ones. To complain about such expressions would in my eyes be, ahem, very Protestant.

Sarah Palin is, alas, a Heretic, but I think no reasonable person can have doubts about her Christian faith. I always write that words and phrases must be understood in the context, because isolating single words is often a misleading exercise. For example, we understand Francis’ questionable or heretical statements in the light of his countless other questionableor heretical statements; we do this, because they give the context for what he wants to say.

The same should, I think, apply to Mrs Palin. It is obvious she had no intention of belittling or banalising Baptism; rather, her was a robust way of saying that Christians can show Muslims terrorists they aren’t all daisy pickers, and can be as tough as it is needed. Which is good. Very good.

As to the waterboarding, I will not insult my readers’ intelligence telling them where I am on the matter. But this post is not about waterboarding, either.

Was Palin’s expression robust? Yes, it was. Could it have been avoided? Yes, pretty much everything apart from “good morning” could probably be avoided, but I honestly do not think she should have done it. Unless, that is, I should suddenly decide that “baptism of fire” is impious, too. Certainly, though, no reasonable person can say Palin wanted to belittle or disrespect Baptism, more than the Italian man using the words battesimo del fuoco would.

Look at the person, and understand the person as she speaks. If she’s a sincere Christian, do her the courtesy of recognising it. If you recognise it there can be no outrage, because we worship God, not words. There are discusdions at times that remind me of the stoning scene in “Life of Brian”.

But note this: in the same phrase, Palin mentioned the “fear of the Lord”. This is an expression I think I have never, ever heard from a high-rank politician in the UK, lest they offend the sensibilities of some heathen. Therefore, my deal is this: let Palin show Christian faith in her speeches and actions, and she can use the word “baptism” in whatever comparison she wants.

Some closing observations:

1. This kind of outrage is used often by neocons to isolate real conservatives. Conservatives are more robust in their expression, and it is easy to take – or fake – outrage at them. If Palin is damaged, cui prodest? The critics of Obama should think hard about this.

2. This “sensitive” mentality is what has allowed the Republicans to be screwed with McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 and, no doubt, will allow them to be screwed with some other PC daisy in 2016. No divisive people, no divisive messages, only neutral words. The daisies would never use such phrases, you see, so you can happily lose the next election, safe in the knowledge that your losing candidate will only express himself in the appropriate way, will always say “gay” instead of “faggot”, and will allow you to see Hillary at the White House with the serene conscience that no Christian word has been used in less than the perfectly appropriate way.

I am not a US citizen, though obviously what happens in the US impacts us all too. But an awful lot of Americans will soon have to decide if their Country should continue to go down the drain because they can never pick anyone with a functioning brain and a robust spine, or whether they should rather decide that you pick a candidate because of his message and outlook on life, not his score in the PC electoral contest.



Posted on April 30, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Isn’t it funny how these ‘Conservative’ and ‘Catholic’ journalists that are manufacturing outrage at Sarah Palin are so willing to read the worst interpretation into what she said, while they do the exact opposite with Pope Francis? In other words, they are holding a lay person to a strict standard I think is really made up, and they the give a pass to the Pope when, for example, he says proselytizing is ‘solemn nonsense’. Remember how quick they all were to split hairs and try to convince us that proselytizing was tantamount to forced conversion? Then, as if to emphasize the horror of papal falling away, the story surfaced right after that Benedict told a Lutheran Vatican translator to stay Lutheran. Remember how the Catholic blogosphere was abuzz? No, because they explained part of it away and then remained silent and let the whole issue die.

    These professional and semi-professional Catholics who blog and write and have credentials such that other Catholics swallow what they say as authentic, are going to be held culpable by Christ just as the cardinals, bishops, and priests are for malformation of souls. They want the fame and glory and to be looked to as Catholic thinkers; and yet here they are, straining out gnats with Sarah while getting their readers to swallow the camel of a fallen away hierarchy. What a bunch of crap from these people.

    • “In other words, they are holding a lay person to a strict standard I think is really made up, and they the give a pass to the Pope when, for example, he says proselytizing is ‘solemn nonsense’.”

      Extremely fitting observation.

  2. Mund, Palin isn’t an apostate from the faith. Her parents left the Church when she was very young, She was reared in the Pentecostal Assemblies Of God, so there was no Catholicism to fall away from. This “Sarah is an apostate Catholic” meme was started by liberal Catholic journalist during the ’08 elections to steer Catholics away from voting for her.

    • But if she is a baptised Catholic, isn’t she an Apostate anyway? Her young age can certainly diminish her degree of culpability, not the objective fact of her being an Apostate; in the same way that an heretic is an heretic even if he was raised in a strictly Protestant environment.


    • Pope Sixtus VIth

      I’ve never seen the word Apostate used for anyone except those who deny Christ altogether after being baptized. Palin seems to be in “material heresy”, about which more here:

    • You are right, my mistake.

      I have modified the text. Thanks for the help.


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