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OPINION: Palin’s reprehensible remark

Sarah Palin speaking at the 2014 NRA Stand and Fight Rally in Indianapolis, Indiana. April 26, 2014 (Photo: YouTube screenshot)
Sarah Palin speaking at the 2014 NRA Stand and Fight Rally in Indianapolis, Indiana. April 26, 2014 (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

Sarah Palin is no stranger to controversy, much of it coming as a result of her incessant assault on liberal ideology and her penchant for delivering comments that make the mainstream media’s blood boil. This week, however, Palin has finally gotten herself in hot water with her fellow conservatives.

While speaking at the National Rifle Association’s “Stand And Fight” rally at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis over the weekend, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate echoed a long-held frustration among conservatives that President Obama’s foreign policy “coddles” America’s adversaries.

If she had stopped there, her remarks would not have been any different from any other Palin speech that draws the ire of liberals and applause of the conservative base. But she kept going.

So, what would Palin do?

 Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.

That’s right. Palin’s diatribe against political correctness ended in the downright theological: baptism by waterboarding.

Baptism is a sign of salvation in Christ for the vast majority of Evangelicals. So even if many of them feel like the Obama Administration has been too soft on terrorists, they will undoubtedly see a problem with Palin’s analogy. It should come as no surprise in coming days when Evangelicals of many stripes lining up to denounce Palin’s remarks.

As a self-proclaimed Evangelical, Palin ought to have known better. Baptism, according to Paul’s letter to the Romans, is the believer’s identification with Christ in his death. It was at his baptism that the Father said of Jesus, “You are my beloved Son.” Christian baptism is one of the only agreed upon sacraments of the church, whether Baptist, Orthodox, Catholic, Methodist, or Pentecostal — even Independent Fundamentalists!

Baptism, at the very least, is a sign of the mercy of God given to believers. In light of this, Joe Carter of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission captures the general sentiment of Evangelicals toward Palin’s quip saying, “For anyone to confess Christ as their savior and to compare one of the means of God’s grace to [an] act of torture is reprehensible… her remarks denigrate the Christian faith.”

Palin’s comments are reminiscent of the Crusades of old, whereby conversion often came with a sword at the neck. Of course, it’s not conversion Palin has in mind. It’s retribution.

“Whatever it takes to stop them,” she said.

Directly before the comments receiving the majority of attention, Palin said it is “the fear of God” that needs to be put into opponents. Perhaps, rather, the fear of God ought to be instilled in the one who makes a mockery of God’s commands to the church by comparing them to something reprehensible. Is her Jesus the one who holds the terrorists down while the disciples push their face under the water?

There is a place for religion in the public square, but this “mixture of pagan ethics and civil deistic religion” does neither the American people nor the political conversation at large any good.

How ought Christians respond to terrorists? Baptize them. But let’s convert them first, not torture them. As one former terrorist, the Apostle Paul, said, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel (1 Cor 1:17).”

Follow Griffin on Twitter @GriffinGulledge