One blogger on a major site links to a speech she gave at her church, labeling it, “Sarah Palin scares me.” Another blogger links to something similar, with the caption, “Do you really think Sarah Palin would accept us as Christians?” And someone on another blog entirely puts up a post that includes this query: does being “pretty and popular” count as one of the “other circumstances” mentioned in the Proclamation on the Family?
So these appear to be the two concerns: that her evangelical religion is hostile to ours, and that she’s a working mom.
Both concerns are frivolous.
First, we have no way of knowing if she or her church is hostile towards ours. Shoot, even if so, that hardly means she’d be a bad vice president. But what really bothers me here is that, after all the needless mistreatment we Latter-day Saints have endured as a result of the mistaken assumptions of others, that any of us would be so rash and uncharitable as to act the same way.
The videos of Palin mentioned above have nothing in them that’s hostile, that’s ignorant, or that’s worrisome in any reasonable way. So she wants to be sure that our military is doing God’s will. Great. Isn’t that what all Western religion is about? Discerning and submitting ourselves to God’s will? What’s so odd about that?
And if the problem is with her enthusiastic speech and slightly differing vocabulary from ours, then her critics need to grow up and deal with it; yes, evangelicals worship a little differently than we do. Big deal. That hardly means that they–or Palin specifically–are itching to lock us all up. Such baseless fear-mongering is patently unchristian.
As for the complaint that she’s violating the principles of family life as we understand them, perhaps critics should read the Proclamation again. It says that mothers are responsible for the nurture of their children. It does not say that a woman must be a full time, stay-at-home mom. Now, my wife is exactly that, and we’re both glad about it, and in general, it’s the ideal.
But something that the Church usually doesn’t get enough credit for is its impressive tolerance of diverse life choices. The Church encourages people to make prayerful personal choices about their families, but I’ve yet to see the Church then admonish anybody for what they do. Some readers may be anxious to cite exceptions, but that’s what those stories would be: exceptions. Church leadership is almost always reliable about teaching principles, and then allowing people to live as they feel guided by God.
So let’s not condemn Sarah Palin for being a working mom, because our leaders have not seen fit to issue any blanket condemnations for women in similar positions. No, Sheri Dew is not a perfect analogy for Palin, but it’s a useful comparison. We are not justified in slapping somebody around because they decide to actually modify their family from the standard, as we believe God has said is acceptable.
Besides, what fair evidence is there that Palin has failed to nurture her family? From what any of us can reasonably tell, she’s done a fantastic job. (And don’t dare to look down at her for her daughter getting pregnant. Anybody who feels comfortable making such stringent judgements is setting themselves up to be humbled in the future.)
So Palin works outside the home. Guess what? So do most good LDS moms. If not in the commercial workplace, their lives are filled with activities that involve running around town and juggling babysitters. If it weren’t so, every Relief Society presidency in the Church would have to be shut down. Who are we to question if being a major political leader is not what God has planned for her to do? (Does anyone want to assert that God doesn’t have plans to call any mothers to fulfill any roles outside the home? If so, I hope I’m not standing next to you when the lightning strikes.)
In our first few years of marriage, I confess that I sometimes told my wife that I wasn’t sure if she should be getting involved in so many different activities: everything from PTA and American Mothers, to magnifying her church callings and joining multiple book clubs. I was wrong to doubt her. Has our family ever suffered because she’s so busy? Just the opposite. Nor has Palin’s. Why do so many people want to deny or ignore that her family is healthy, functional, and happy? Is it really just sour grapes?
So, to you LDS Sarah Palin haters out there, please, get over your misdirected hangups and embrace this opportunity to elevate an incredible, realistic, and positive leader to a high office. The world will be a better place with her serving us all and serving the Lord…as He may see fit.
[Note: I intend the funny and engaging picture above to help take the egde off a touchy post, but if any readers want to persist in being critical of Palin, then I hope it doesn’t irritate you too much, but I’m really impressed by her and want to celebrate her career in this blog.]