Christians Slam Palin Over Waterboarding Baptism Comment

Thursday, 01 May 2014 11:14 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has come under fire from Catholics and other Christians over her "blasphemous" and "sacrilegious" comments comparing waterboarding to baptism.

The 2008 Republican candidate for vice president said at a National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis over the weekend that if she were in charge, "waterboarding is how we'd baptize terrorists."

Edward Peters, a professor on canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, attacked Palin in his blog, "In the Light of the Law," saying that even if "her words only meet the lesser standard of 'irreverence' toward God or holy things, they were wrong to utter and wrong to applaud."

He continued, "Whether one is a left-wing looney who becomes unhinged upon simply seeing this woman who loves her family and her country or is a right-wing yahoo who looks on her as some sort of high priestess of traditional values, Sarah Palin's statement … should shock the conscience.

"I think Palin's guardian angel wept at her comparing baptism to waterboarding."

Deacon Ed Kandra, of the Brooklyn diocese in New York, pointed out on the website Patheos that "equating torture with baptism is extremely offensive — and, in fact, blasphemous."

Kandra said that waterboarding "degrades human life" and that Palin "made a mockery of the foundational sacrament of our faith."

He wrote, "As someone who calls herself 'pro-life,' she should understand that we are called to respect life in all its forms, at all times, from conception to natural death. Pro-life Americans should be appalled."

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Rod Dreher, editor of The American Conservative,
also slammed the Fox News contributor, declaring that "Palin and all those who cheered her sacrilegious jibe ought to be ashamed of themselves."

He added, "For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. Palin invoked it to celebrate torture. Even if you don't believe that waterboarding is torture, surely you agree that it should not be compared to baptism, and that such a comparison should be laughed at."

According to the Catholic News Agency, Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition declared that it's "reprehensible" for a Christian "to compare one of the means of God's grace to an act of torture."

Mollie Hemingway, a Lutheran, told The Federalist, a web magazine focusing on culture, politics, and religion, that "joking about baptism in the context of [waterboarding] suggests that we don't think baptism is as life-giving or important as it is."

And James Arnold, editor of Alliance Alert at Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote that "comparing baptism to waterboarding — regardless of your position on both the efficacy of baptism for the transference of grace and of the usefulness of waterboarding for the extraction of information — is simply disrespectful."

The agency reported that although Palin was baptized Catholic, she was raised to attend a nondenominational ecclesial community.

Palin doubled down on her controversial comments on Monday when she told NBC News that she would not hesitate to use the interrogation method of waterboarding on terrorists.

She said, "Terrorists who want to annihilate Americans, innocent Americans, our children, whatever it takes to stop them. If I were in charge, I'd be stopping 'em."

The agency said Palin also posted a message on Facebook saying, "If some overly sensitive wusses took offense, remember the First Amendment doesn't give you a right not to be offended."

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