Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Palin’s Christian Heritage Week

Jay Sekulow, the prominent conservative legal activist, has a fascinating post over at our new blog, Lynn v. Sekulow. He says Gov. Sarah Palin signed a proclamation which declared October 21-27th as “Christian Heritage Week” in Alaska.
The full text:

WHEREAS, the celebration of Christian Heritage Week, October 21-27, 2007, reminds Alaskans of the role Christianity has played in our rich heritage. Many truly great men and women of America, giants in the structuring of American history, were Christians of caliber and integrity who did not hesitate to express their faith. Some of their legacies are evidenced as follows:
WHEREAS, the Preamble to the Constitution of the State of Alaska begins with, “We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land”
WHEREAS, Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention stated, “It is impossible to build an empire without our Father’s aid. I believe the sacred writings which say that, Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it (Psalm 127:1).”
WHEREAS, George Washington enunciated, “animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and conducting ourselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, we may enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.”
WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
WHEREAS, James Madison, father of the United States Constitution advocated “the diffusion of the light of Christianity in our nation” in his Memorial and Remonstrance.
WHEREAS, Patrick Henry quoted Proverbs 14:34 for our nation, “Righteousness alone can exalt a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
WHEREAS, George Mason, in his Virginia Declaration of Rights, forerunner to our United States Bill of Rights, affirmed, “That it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love and charity towards each other.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Palin, Governor of the State of Alaska, do hereby proclaim October 21-27, 2007, as Alaska’s 9th Annual Christian Heritage Week in Alaska, and encourage all citizens to celebrate this week.


I have mixed feelings about such a proclamation. The actual langauge at the beginning does not state that this is “Christian nation” in any official way, just that many of its leaders were Christian. Technically, it speaks of the Christian heritage much as Irish citizens might talk about a state’s Irish heritage.
But the resolution plucks Founding Father quotes out of context to give misleading impressions about their views on the role of religion in society. James Madison would roll in his grave if he saw that Memorial and Remonstrance was quoted as part of a Christian Heritage resolution. He was a hard-core advocate of separation of church and state who even advocated against well-meaning government efforts to aid religion. Ben Franklin did make that comment about God’s intervention during the Constitutional convention but he also declared that he doubted the divinity of Christ. George Washington refused to take communion.
There’s been a cottage industry of Christian authors trying to convince other Christians that the Founders were all a bunch of strong evangelicals. The weren’t, and I’m disappointed that Palin fed those misconceptions. Someone ought to write a book about the real story of the Founders’ and religion.

Comments read comments(37)
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posted September 3, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Palin isn’t smart enough to know that she is feeding those
preconceptions. It’s the same way with energy.
Thomas Friedman wrote this morning,
“While the northern edge of her state literally falls into the rising Arctic Ocean, Sarah Palin says, ‘The jury is still out on global warming.’ She’s the one hanging the jury — and John McCain is going to let her.”
Obama is going to let the market develop new ways to provide energy, within a new set of global rules.
McAlin are putting their heads in the sand (an oil-rig hole to be more specific) and hope the problem goes away. McAlin have tons of experience being on the wrong side of the issues; values and energy are two examples.

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posted September 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm

I praise the lord for a candidate who stands on her convictions and will support her and Mr. McCain. I don’t want socializism for this country which is what it will be under Obama. he wants to redistribute the wealth. He can give his own wealth away but I am not supporting a ticket that has not done anything for this world or chicago, a town of corruption or look at Oprah Winfry and her new age agenda God forbid that Americans will not wake up the the deception of Obama.

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posted September 3, 2008 at 3:53 pm

We’re a Christian Nation and God’s retribution will come down upon us with glorious thunder if we dont elect Sarah palin. Shes the chosen one. God has spoken.

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posted September 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm

John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were Universalist/Unitarian in faith. These founding statesmen were by definition not “Christian”. Yet they were instumental in creating the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Whatever happened to seperation of religion and state?

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posted September 3, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Well, duh! And the reason for the stupidity trickling down is because these ‘historians’ are used as sources for homeschoolers by the bagful. When you are deliberately ignorant of basic American History, you are not likely to train budding Rhodes Scholars….
I. Am. Not. Surprised.

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posted September 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Josiah, how exactly are we a Christian nation? What evidence of that do you have that the rest of us do not? I’m a Catholic but also smart enough to know we are a nation based on religious freedom and choice, not on state sponsored Christianity or any other religion.

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posted September 4, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Staiano – I think Josiah was being sarcastic. Well, I certainly hope so… :-)

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posted September 7, 2008 at 5:03 am

Sadly, I doubt that Josiah was sarcastic. I heard similar sentiments from my freshman roommate and his buddies in the Princeton (yes, Princeton) evangelical society 35 years ago, including the tripe that the Yom Kippur War was God’s vengeance. Dogma and tribalism still trump intelligence and education in America, and people who believe they are on a mission from God still scare the —- out of me.

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posted September 7, 2008 at 11:22 am

I’m more worried about Obama’s sitting for twenty years in hate and racism spewing church, than about Alaskan Christian Heritage Week.
Would you be as upset if Gov. Palin supported a Jewish/ Moslem/Shinto/Buddyst/any other religion Heritage Week, as you are when it comes to Christianity?
At this point of history Christians in America are not the enemies.
Did you forget Sept. 11?

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posted September 9, 2008 at 5:50 am

Did you forget Sept. 11?

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posted September 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Yes I would be upset if Palin supported any other religion week.
I’m Jewish, but don’t want a Jewish Heritage Week.
It goes against separation of church and state, not to mention the amount of anti-semetism that would come about as a result of a Jewish Heritage Week.

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posted October 1, 2008 at 11:11 am

I can’t believe she quoted thomas jefferson as evidence for a christian heritage week… Classic case of christians taking pieces of literature and spinning them to represent their views and push their agendas. It’s even worse that this is a real bill that was passed.

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anonymous and concerned

posted October 21, 2008 at 2:35 pm

I have grave concerns about Palin. I took logic classes in college. From the little I remember, I can still discern how this woman uses a continual stream of twisted logic and fallacies to promote her agenda. I can plainly see where she is power hungry. And thinks she is on a mission from God. Scary. She says whatever suits her purpose at the time and makes no apologies for the incongruities. I would be very hesitant to allow her to speak for me, particularly because she inflames hatred when and if it suits her political purposes. This is not what Jesus taught.
I am far less worried about Obama. I believe him to be an honest man. I am not worried about his “affiliations”. Having grown up in the 1960’s I know that African Americans have many ties that bind the communities. It is possible for someone like Obama to attend a church and not agree with everything that is said. I do not believe he is hiding anything about Ayers. No more than the other people associated with Ayers, which include high ranking Republicans. It’s ridiculous. I am a Republican. I voted Democrat this time. The only disagreement I have with Obama is over abortion and that took a lot for me to settle. But I decided we will never find a perfect party. Palin does not speak for me. And she especially does not speak for my faith or my heart. And I am worried about the agendas she would usher in to strip us of our rights and shift power over to a twisted elite.

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