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God-O-Meter

earth.jpgGod-o-Meter first noticed it around the time of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum John McCain and Barack Obama last month, when Warren talked about wanting to get a sense of the candidates’ “world views.”

World view. It’s certainly not a term that’s exclusive to the evangelical Christian lexicon. But it seems to God-o-Meter that it has special resonance within in the evangelical subculture. Focus on the Family talks a good deal about it in its materials. Go to worldview.org and you’ll find the web site of a Christian academy. It’s not unusual to hear about evangelical activists talk about the battle of biblical vs. secular worldviews.

With Sarah Palin, a nondenominational Christian with a Pentecostal past and seemingly evangelical leanings, in the race, the term is entering the political lexicon more and more.

In Palin’s recent interview with ABC News’s Charlie Gibson, for example, John McCain’s running mate mentioned her “world view” in response to a question about the role of God in foreign policy:

GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln’s words, but you went on and said, “There is a plan and it is God’s plan.”

PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That, in my world view, is a grand — the grand plan.

Later on in the interview, Palin jumped on a question about George W. Bush by bringing up the term again:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

It sounded like Palin may have been about to summarize Bush’s worldview–and to agree with it. Palin went on to say that “I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.”

So Palin connected “world view” with a religious issue–the fight against Islamic extremism. It’s no secret that that issues has special resonance among evangelical Christians.

Bush himself has used the term “world view” in discussing his own vision for the war on terror:

Let me give you my world view on this. Like you, I’d like them home. I really do. But my decisions have been based on my — or at least my belief that what we’re seeing is one of the — a great ideological struggle between forces of ration — rational behavior, decent people, lovers of liberty, versus radicals who have a belief system and they’re willing to murder the innocent to achieve — to advance their objectives. That’s how I view it. I don’t think you’re a religious person if you murder the innocent to achieve political objectives. I think you’re a person who is manipulative and cynical and willing to kill in the name of religion; I don’t think you’re religious.

So was Palin trying to get behind Bush’s world view as a way of connecting with the evangelicals who famously backed him record numbers in 2004?

Last night, on 60 Minutes John McCain brought up Palin’s worldview in discussing foreign policy:

Pelley: But foreign affairs and the economy, those are things that people are concerned about.

McCain: First of all, anybody who’s governed a state has some economic experience. And by the way, she cut taxes. The second thing is she shares the world view that I have.

Was McCain using the term to gain evangelical street cred from Palin just as Palin might have been using it to establish a connection to Bush and to subtly connect with evangelicals?

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