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 IAmAnAtheist » Sarah Palin’s Christmas: Chapter 5

Sarah Palin’s Christmas: Chapter 5

My notes on “Bad News, Good News,” chapter 5 of Sarah Palin’s new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.

Our second president, John Adams—who was present at most every key moment in the formation of our nation—wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” [Kindle location 1361]

There’s a small bit of irony here since John Adams was a Unitarian and would, therefore, have a very different view of Jesus (and, presumably, Christmas) than Palin has.

This makes me wonder whether or not Palin realizes that there are Christians who don’t feel the same way she does. For example, I question whether Jehovah’s Witnesses particularly enjoy being wished “Merry Christmas” by merchants.

A democracy without respect for individual liberty is just a tyranny of the majority. The right to vote doesn’t guarantee virtue. The point is, freedom is the only answer. [Kindle location 1373]

Palin clearly doesn’t think that government sponsorship of religion is disrespectful to personal liberty. I’d have to disagree there. She also complains about people pressuring businesses away from being exclusively Christmas focused, but putting on this kind of pressure is part of what individual liberty is about. I don’t think she sees her particular majority as capable of tyranny.

Are Americans emphasizing the values that made our nation great, or are we rejecting them? If we reject those values, what kind of nation will we create? [Kindle location 1375]

I wish she’d define “values that made our nation great.” Male domination? Forced labor? Expansion through military force? I assume Palin is just picking those values she agrees with (even if she’s just agreeing because she misunderstands them) and saying they shouldn’t be rejected, but I’d say that part of what makes America great is a tradition of questioning authority and pushing against the status quo.

Once again, he’s learned a lesson: There’s something wrong with sharing faith in public. [Kindle location 1420]

This is the conclusion of a story about a boy who’d converted to Christianity over the summer and wanted to sing a religious song in the school pageant. What he should have learned was that there is a time and a place for sharing your deeply personal beliefs, and a school play isn’t it. I’m guessing the school would also have objected if he wanted to sing a song about politics or how happy he was to be homosexual. Hopefully he’ll learn this lesson before he gets an office job, or he’s going to end up having a very uncomfortable conversation with HR.

“Well, at this school, we don’t say the words ‘under God,'” the instructor says in a lowered voice. “It makes some of the nonreligious students feel excluded. Besides, do you think God only blesses America? I’m sure you understand, kiddo.” [Kindle location 1452]

This is Palin talking about the dangers of peer pressure, using the example of a boy saying “under God” during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance on his first day at a school where they use the original wording (not that Palin admits it’s the original). It’s weird to me that Palin is so concerned about the impact of peer pressure  Christian children, when the opposite scenario — a non-religious child being forced to say “under God” — is far more common, and she doesn’t seem concerned about that.

An atheist family sued Acton-Boxborough Regional School District in Massachusetts to get them to stop saying the entire Pledge, saying that it was unfair to the atheist students who didn’t want to even hear it. [Kindle location 1461]

As I understand the suit, it wasn’t that the atheist student didn’t want to hear “under God,” but that he didn’t want to be required to say it. Even if Palin agreed that the child shouldn’t be forced to say it (and I think she probably would), the school is still making it clear that the government associates religion and patriotism, and I’d say that’s Constitutionally problematic.

First, they claim that words like “under God” and songs like “Little Drummer Boy” are so important (even dangerous) that they are justified in using the power of the state to censor them, filing federal lawsuits to have them removed from schools. [Kindle location 1469]

Nobody’s trying to say that “Little Drummer Boy” is dangerously powerful. What we are saying is that the government is powerful, so even the appearance of government endorsement of a particular point of view is significant.

Even worse, as the moral fabric of our country frays, we turn to the government to make up for our personal failings. Yet we can’t print enough currency or food stamps or free Obamaphone vouchers to compensate for failing families. [Kindle location 1491]

This sounds to me like Palin is implying a link between poverty and immorality. I hope I’m misunderstanding her.

Take Joey, for example. Though he belonged to a Christian family, his parents didn’t notice as the school and society gradually but certainly began poisoning their son with the unmistakable message that their faith was unmentionable… that good manners would dictate he change his message for the comfort of others… that society is better off without faith. [Kindle location 1500; ellipses in original]

Don’t good manners always dictate that you watch what you say in front of others? Isn’t Palin herself saying that she wishes people wouldn’t wish her “Happy holidays”?

And speaking of messages, what about the message that society is better off keeping the government out of religion? (Apologies to the dead horse I’m beating here.)

America is a nation “under God,” and it’s worth fighting to tell that truth. The Left certainly thinks it’s worth fighting to deny it. [Kindle location 1509]

Actually, if by the “Left” Palin means atheists, we aren’t fighting to deny that America is a nation under God because we don’t believe in God in the first place. When Palin says things like this, it bright-yellow-highlights the fact that she has no clue about how her philosophical opponents think.

A few years back I read a book that told a startling story about a suicidal person about to jump from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, causing a traffic jam as the first responders tried to talk him down. While this was going on, some angry commuters started shouting, “Just jump!” This happened in arguably the most liberal city in America—the birthplace of the “Summer of Love,” for crying out loud. Some of those “loving” citizens—who may think of Christians as hate-filled bigots—cared more about the convenience of their commute than a desperate man’s life. [Kindle location 1510]

Statistics predict that the majority of those yelling “Jump!” weren’t atheists. Even in San Francisco.

In America today, we are killing unborn children at a catastrophic pace. [Kindle location 1530]

This may be a good place to remind everyone that this is a Christmas book.

Our nation actually uses the power of the state to protect the “right” to kill children in a mother’s womb—for any reason or no reason at all. Do we worship ourselves so much that another human has to die for our personal convenience? [Kindle location 1532]

Wow.

There’s a reason why voters don’t necessarily like voting for an atheist. Voters don’t want to give power to someone who doesn’t believe he or she will someday have to answer to the Ultimate Authority. [Kindle location 1536]

Quoting Wikipedia, “In most of Europe, atheists are elected to office at high levels in many governments without controversy.” Not wanting to vote against atheists isn’t a logical conclusion or a universal human state, it’s simple bigotry.

Dr. Thomas Sowell reviewed Adam Hochschild’s book Bury the Chains, which discussed the world’s first antislavery movement. [Kindle location 1542]

Again quoting Wikipedia: “The Spanish government enacted the first European law abolishing colonial slavery in 1542, although this law was not widely enforced. Later, in the 17th century, English Quakers and evangelical religious groups condemned slavery (by then applied mostly to Africans) as un-Christian…”

According to Amazon, Bury the Chains is about a British anti-slavery movement in 1787. This is what Palin says was the first anti-slavery movement in the world, when it wasn’t even the first in England.

I know that, considering the source, the lack of fact checking shouldn’t be surprising me, but seriously…

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rightly celebrated along with Washington and Lincoln as one of America’s greatest citizens, was a Baptist minister whose message to the American people was saturated in faith. The black church was the backbone of the civil rights movement. [Kindle location 1549]

Note that, unlike Palin, Dr. King fought against what many people considered “traditional values.” She doesn’t seem to hold this against him.

There’s a helpful thought experiment to determine whether Bible-believing is really such a bad thing, brought to you by radio host Dennis Prager. He once asked his listeners to shut their eyes and imagine that their car has broken down one night in a not-so-nice neighborhood. A group of young twenty-something men are walking down the street toward the car. He then asked listeners if it would make them feel safer knowing that the young men (a) just got out of a local movie theater after seeing the latest shoot-’em-up action flick, or (b) just got out of their weekly men’s Bible study group? The answer is obvious to anyone who is intellectually honest. [Kindle location 1553]

Here’s a helpful thought experiment to determine whether Bible-believing is really such a bad thing. Shut your eyes and imagine that you’re a young woman who is walking from her car to a medical clinic so you can get a routine test done. A group of young twenty-something men are walking down the street toward you. Would it make you feel safer knowing that the young men (a) were a bunch of atheists coming home from an atheist-philosophy class, or (b) were calling it a day after spending the morning protesting at an abortion clinic?

This kind of question isn’t about religion, it’s about stereotypes. In Prager’s original, I’d honestly feel better about any group of people who’d just come from any kind of intellectual, meditative, or otherwise non-violent group activity. This includes religious worship, a book group, college classes, a visit to Disneyland, chess club, and barbershop-quartet practice. Similarly, I’d feel relatively more wary of a group that had just engaged in any emotional or violent activity. This includes attending a college football game, seeing a violent movie, attending a political rally, playing roller derby, and heckling a barbershop-quartet competition.

Third, Christianity is the source of these ever more illusive “values” we’ve been talking about. [Kindle location 1560]

I think it would be very difficult for Palin to make a meaningful list of so-called Christian values that didn’t pre-date Jesus.

Liberals tend to believe people are good, and institutions like the church or the traditional family are actually oppressive. Get rid of these bad institutions, or fundamentally transform them beyond recognition, and people will thrive and flourish. Ahhh, man-made Utopia. [Kindle location 1578]

Not even close to what I believe. Either Palin is wrong, not all atheists are liberals, or both. (I’m voting for “both”).

They even try to change the definition of marriage, to elevate adult desires over the societal cornerstone that’s built the family since the beginning of time. [Kindle location 1589]

I’m willing to bet that there were families long before there was marriage. I’m also willing to bet that Palin wouldn’t define marriage in a way that agrees with all societal practices “since the beginning of time.” Heck, even the Old Testament seems to define marriage in a way that American “one man; one woman” conservatives should take exception to.

Our Founders implemented a system of checks and balances not because people are good but because people can’t be trusted with power. And because we’re not that great, we need constant reminders of our need for God. [Kindle location 1597]

Another pair of sentences that apparently aren’t aware of each other. The Founders were fully aware that there needed to be checks and balances on the majority. We can’t have the majority voting that the government should endorse it’s religion, now can we?

Chapter 6 is next, but it looks like I’ll have a lot to say about it. It may take me an extra day to post about it. We’ll see.

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Books · Tagged with: ,

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