Monday, September 1, 2008

Palin's Belief: God Has a Place but Honesty Doesn't

There are things in this world--odd things--that test our ability to weigh right and wrong, that help us to decide which way to go on an issue. Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, currently the short term governor of Alaska (pop 670K), is turning out to be an inconsistent, self-serving puzzle if ever there was one.

Palin's religious beliefs were formed in the pentecostal Assemblies of God church where she was re-baptized at 12 years of age having left the Roman Catholic Church. Today she attends Wasilla Bible Church a church that teaches the inspired inerrant (read literalism) Word of God. This means, whether Palin has vocally admitted it or not, she is a creationist if she does, in fact, agree with her church's Statement of Faith.

As an unambiguous advocate of teaching creationism (the Biblical Genesis origins of life), and of teaching the non-science of "Intelligent" Design, Palin is living this part of her faith and suggesting others do likewise even if they are not religious, not Christian, and not literalist.

A creationist believes everything is created by God as set forth in the Genesis creation stories. All of God's creation was (is) holy. All of God's animal creations at risk through the Biblical flood were, of course, saved by humans as they were packed--in pairs of two for "unclean" animals and in three pairs of two for "clean" animals (clean/unclean standards according to Leviticus) into the Ark. For some interesting reading, peruse her baptismal Church's (Assemblies of God) thinking on the Ark.

So her faith informs her of two things: 1) All things are created by God and are holy, and 2) these Godly creations needed saving by humans during the flood.

Today, global warming is causing early and rapid loss of arctic ice flows, including in Alaska. An estimated 25% of the world's population of polar bears live in Palin's Alaska state of 670K or so people. Polar bears are dependent on ice for their survival. It is now well documented that their survival--the ice--is melting under their very paws--and fast.

Instead of working to save the polar bear's themselves, and their environment, Palin is working to save the oil industry. Palin has filed a lawsuit to overturn the bear's endangered listing under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), an act signed into law by Republican Richard Nixon.

Not only does Palin take this course, she takes it in favor of petroleum interests (not mentioned as being sacred in the Bible), and objects based on economic interests [a topic absolutely nowhere addressed, literally, in the Bible]. Of course the Bible also does not address global warming and melting of ice flows which points to the problematic approach of Biblical literalism. The Bible also does not address the literal need for honesty in Governors, though it does address honesty and, as you might predict, it certainly suggests honesty in all things is good. Conflict of interest as a Governor dealing with issues of the family's bread winner isn't a topic of the Bible, either. Literalism does have its limits.

As an aside, polar bears had to be on the Ark. They cannot spend 40 days in the water.

The governor has called a special session of the Legislature to possibly rewrite the Petroleum Profits Tax. Her proposals could have a multi-million dollar impact on her husband's employer. BP could also become a major player in the natural gas line project.

Palin's husband, Todd, works as a North Slope oil field production operator for British Petroleum (BP). In other words, her family's bread and butter comes from the energy (read, in this case, oil and gas) industry. It also explains her fervent desire to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

In order to make her ESA objection on the polar bears, Palin clearly obfuscated (actually, she lied) scientific assessment (a dishonest act) indicating the need for the adopted listing was not warranted on this basis. In case you are unfamiliar with this process, the science needed to prove listing is rigorous. In the last eight years, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) hasn't exactly gotten better about doing their work, more liberal about listings, or more lax on the science. In fact, it is generally viewed by the scientific community that the USFWS (like other environmental and health agencies) is understaffed, underbudgeted, has shifted decidedly to the political right, and, like the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies, has been as anti-science as these agencies have ever been under any president.

In a potential breech of ethics, Palin cited green-washed studies funded in part by oil companies.
Read here and note the source, which is not green media but corporate media. USFWS documentation has indicated concern for more bears seen in open seas.

"Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming," she said. "The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this."

"She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming." "Alaska deserves better."
--Both quotes, Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity

"Essentially, she lied," said University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner, who wrangled with the Palin administration for months to obtain the documents. "She came out and said, 'our scientists agree the polar bears are fine and should not be listed'" when that wasn't the case, said Steiner, a conservation specialist who studies climate change. The McCain-Palin campaign did not make the governor available for comment.
-- ABC NEWS, August 31, 2008

Now mind you, I am an Episcopalian, non-creationist, who believes in evolution and abhors any notion of theocracy, was trained in the sciences and believes public education should be free from all religious factors, influences and interferences. I really don't care WHAT you believe in terms of faith--it's alright with me. You can worship purple pepper shakers if you like, or be an atheist. But shove your rhetoric and belief on me or the American people--or students--yes, I will take you to task. Government and religion must always have a bright, bright line between them. And no, the founding fathers did not support Christianity in the Constitution. In fact, they went WAY out of their way to prevent just that.

So, Sarah Palin, keep your religious beliefs out of the secular society you represent and specifically out of politics. And if you find you are unable to do this and unwilling to leave politics, at least be consistent under your own creationist, literalist faith. If you are proud of it, don't lie about it, don't hide it and live consistently with it. You are not doing any of these things right now.

For some great and interesting reading on polar bears, read this article.

Phot0 Credit: ABC News