Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

questionmark.jpgGod-o-Meter asserted last week that McCain veep pick Sarah Palin is Catholic. It seems that Palin was baptized a Catholic after birth but was baptized into the Assemblies of God as a teenager and that she now attends an Assemblies of God church in the capital and a non-denominational church at home.
According to the AP:

Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal.

The National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen points out that says that Palin’s post-denominational Christianity is right at home in the current American religious landscape:

Palin appears to be part of that rapidly expanding galaxy of “post-denominational” Christianity, where elements of Evangelical and Pentecostal styles of faith and worship fuse into a myriad of unique local combinations, and where old denominational loyalties are essentially dead.
Though post-denominationalists are, by definition, difficult to catalog and index, they’re unquestionably numerous. A 2007 survey conducted by LifeWay found that fully one-third of American Protestants were contemplating attending a different church in the future, and of that group, only one in four said it would be important that their future church belong to the same denomination as the one they currently attend.

God-o-Meter expects that Palin’s post-denominational Christianity will benefit her beyond its resonance with post-denominational voters.
By declining to be pigeonholed into a specific Christian tradition, Palin will be able to transcend the evangelical/Pentecostal box that being a Christian Right darling would seem to put her in. That means she can rely on an evangelical/Pentecostal lexicon that her background has equipped her with to connect with those voters without being overly identifed with that tradition by others, like other values candidates–think Mike Huckabee, Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson–were.
She can play both sides, targeting less religious independents and the GOP’s Christian Right base voters. The last candidate who was able to straddle both worlds was elected to two terms in the White House: George W. Bush.
Recall that Bush never called himself an evangelical or born again Christian. That would made him vulnerable to pigeonholing, scaring off independents. So he used an evangelical lexicon to reach all the voters who would recognize it without alienating others. The GOP desperately wants to distance itself from Bush. But his political tactics, which worked so well, might linger for a while.


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