I’ve defended and supported Sarah Palin in the past, but she has jumped the shark this time with her comments to the National Rifle Association on Saturday. Palin told the group (at the 7:16 mark in the video) that we need to put the “fear of God” in our enemies, adding:
Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.
Palin doubled down on the comments in an interview with NBC News:
Would I make it again? Why wouldn’t I, yeah, absolutely. Terrorists who want to annihilate Americans, innocent Americans, our children – whatever it takes to stop them. If I were in charge, I’d be stoppin’ em.
Aside from the fact that Palin, a professing Christian, describes a sacred sacrament in the context of a practice that many consider to be torture, there is the fact that in many Muslim countries identifying with Christ in baptism can actually have deadly consequences and flippantly inserting baptism into a joke about terrorists is in poor taste.
For example, in May 2010, an Afghan TV channel broadcast footage showing alleged converts to Christianity, including scenes of baptisms. This was followed by Afghan MP Abdul Sattar Khawasi’s call in the Afghan parliament for those featured in the footage to be executed. A crackdown against Christians ensued, and around 25 converts were arrested after a group of Kabul University students shouted death threats and demanded the expulsion of foreigners accused of proselytising. There were numerous demonstrations in the wake of the TV broadcast of the baptisms in different cities throughout the country — Herat, Baghlan, Mazar-e Sharif and again in Kabul. This resulted in a Christian cleansing of sorts in Afghanistan, as hundreds of former Muslims who had converted to Christianity fled the county, including hundreds who ended up in New Delhi, India, and now live in a legal limbo, still fearing for their lives. Christianity Today reported last year:
Although the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs fleeing Afghanistan for India, the Indian government’s refusal to do so means that Afghan Christians cannot seek legal protection from discrimination from other religious groups. Such discrimination often arises from Afghan Muslims who have also sought refuge in India. Many Afghan Christians make a meager living as translators for Afghanis seeking medical care in India, but the language and social challenges continue.
In other words, the Christians who fled to India after their baptisms were shown on TV continue to be persecuted by Muslims in what they thought would be their country of refuge. Examples abound of Christian persecution in Muslim countries and the public act of baptism is one of the main ways converts are identified and targeted.
I’m not a bit worried about offending terrorists (in fact, I share that sentiment with Sarah Palin), however I do object to Palin’s insensitivity to the brave Christians who are willing to pay with their lives for the privilege of being recognized as Christians through the sacrament of baptism in hostile countries around the world.
I love ya’ Sarah, but this is one you should walk back.