Many conservative pundits were not impressed by John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, since her glaring lack of experience undercuts McCain's main message against Barack Obama.
On the plus side for McCain, just about everyone agreed that putting an anti-abortion mother-of-five on the ticket would delight the evangelical Christians who were so crucial to George Bush's re-election.
Although the "pro-family" interest groups applauded McCain's choice, I had a hunch that Palin wouldn't be unanimously embraced by the evangelical rank and file.
I lurk and occasionally comment at a few "mommy blogs" written by religious conservatives. Checking in on some popular sites in the evangelical Christian blogosphere over the weekend, I did find some commentaries that praised Palin for her views and for continuing a pregnancy while carrying a child with Down syndrome.
However, if you join me after the jump, you'll see that plenty of evangelicals are far from "fired up and ready to go" for this Republican ticket.
Christian conservative bloggers were not united behind any presidential candidate during the primaries, but many favored Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. Sam Brownback was distrusted for having converted to Catholicism as an adult. John McCain was never a favorite in these circles, although he was also not as detested as Mitt Romney.
Whatever their political differences, evangelical Christian bloggers share a general philosophy about a woman's proper role in the family and society. As the recommended reading list of the Biblical Womanhood site suggests, they are not big on moms of young kids working outside the home. Ladies Against Feminism is frequently found on Christian blogrolls, and that blog is adamant about God wanting women to focus on home and family.
This post by the talented preacher Voddie Baucham sums up the case against Palin from the Christian right:
Unfortunately, Christians appear to be headed toward a hairpin turn at breakneck speed without the slightest clue as to the danger ahead. I don’t see this as a pro-family pick at all! Moreover, I believe the conservative fervor over this pick shows how politicized Christians have become at the expense of maintaining a prophetic voice. I believe that Mr. McCain has proven with his VP pick that he is pro-victory, not pro-family. In fact, I believe this was the anti-family pick. I say that for at least two reasons. [...]
Perhaps the most disturbing revelation in the article is Mrs. Palin’s recent decision to travel for work (against her doctor’s orders) in the final days of her pregnancy. [...]
She put her child at risk, not for an official, necessary, or emergency duty as the Governor of Alaska, but because she simply "was not going to miss out on that speech." A speech! The more I learn about the choices this woman has made, the less inclined I am to see Mr. McCain’s choice as pro-family. [...]
Not only do I believe that a pro-family candidate would prefer to see Mrs. Palin at home taking care of her children, I believe a pro-family candidate would also avoid validating and advancing our culture’s desire to completely erase gender roles. [...]
In an effort to win the pro-family political argument, we are sacrificing the pro-family biblical argument. In essence, the message being sent to women by conservative Christians backing McCain/Palin is, "It’s ok to sacrifice your family on the altar of your career; just don’t have an abortion." How pro-family is that?
This post by an at-home mom has dozens of supportive comments below it:
The home, the family, the raising of children--it is the zenith of human accomplishment. It's a full-time job, requiring full-time attention if it's to encompass all God intended. [...]
The message is "women can have it all"...and it is a lie, because they can't.
The message is "men and women should have equal access to the same roles". The reality is, that's not how God created HIS universe to run. He created them male and female, and yes, by their very biological design, nature screams at our dull senses "YOU ARE DIFFERENT"! Created for different purposes, created to compliment one another in their life work.
Doug Phillips, the president of Vision Forum Ministries, was annoyed that Palin "praised and thanked feminist role models Clinton and Ferraro for what they had accomplished for women’s rights" in Dayton. He unloaded on Republican priorities in this post:
The selection of a feminist, pro-life mother of five with four children, seventeen and under, including a newborn Down’s syndrome baby, to fulfill the post of vice president is without precedent in American history. What Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was unable to accomplish for the feminist cause in 1984 may now be handed as a fait accompli to America through the hands of evangelicals and conservatives. After decades of Christian leaders fighting against the feminstic vision of the working supermom, Republicans are now showcasing the vision in the most high profile election in the world.
[...] I am confident that Mrs. Palin is a delightful, sincere, thoughtful, and capable woman with many commendable virtues. But in fairness, there is nothing "traditional" about mothers of young children becoming career moms, chief magistrates, and leading nations of three hundred million, nor is this pattern the biblical ideal to which young women should aspire. At a time when motherhood and marriage is so under attack, the message Republicans are sending is this: Winning political elections is more important than the following proposition given by the Lord: "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:4-5).
Bonus track: Phillips linked approvingly to this 2004 post by an ordained minister who argued,
So then, if we are to be faithful to Christ, we must search the Scriptures to see what the Lord says in regards to the issue of women civil rulers, and whether it is permissible for Christians to support a woman for the office of civil magistrate. Second, we should recognize that the issue here is not the character or ability of the woman seeking the office; nor is it her spiritual condition, her views on the issues, or even if she is the "best" available candidate. The point in question is this: does the Word of God give us the liberty to place a woman into a political office where she will in some sense bear rule over us in the civil sphere? Or, to state it more precisely: is it biblically proper for a woman to hold political office, and thus rule over men? Has God ordained women to be civil leaders, or has He reserved this authority for men only? I believe that the Bible gives a definitive answer to this question: women are not permitted by God to hold political office and rule over men in the political sphere. There are four lines of evidence in the Bible that establish that women are not to hold political office.
The title of this post by "Mrs. Chancey" is "Woe to My people":
Why is a wife and mother with five children (including a newborn with Down's syndrome) running for vice president? She has a bountiful amount of work cut out for her by the Lord sitting in her lap and around her dining room table. I can certainly respect her Christian and biblical views, but I am really amazed at Christians leaping to embrace putting a wife and mother into political office--particularly an office that will essentially make her the helpmate of the highest official in the land and practically remove her from her husband and children.
Isaiah 3:12 truly applies: "As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths." I can assent to Sarah Palin's conservative views and even applaud them, but I mourn for a nation whose men have forgotten how to lead their families and their land in the way our Founders envisioned and the way God intended. A wife and mother has already been elected by God to the highest office in the land. She has her own particular husband to help, his calling to make successful, and her children to nurture and train to the glory of God. How could the vice-presidency possibly compare with a task that God has personally designed her to fill?
This Ron Paul supporter said Palin seemed like a pretty good governor who is worth listening to, but she had some concerns:
can she REALLY put her husband and children first if she has the second highest office in the country? Especially if things go wrong, which they very, very likely will? Can she be there for her husband if she's a very busy working mother? Can she fulfill her duties as a wife if she's traveling abroad and attending congressional sessions and casting deciding votes? Can she drop everything and handle a crisis with one of her children? Pro-family doesn't mean you're pro-HAVING a family, or pro-LOOKING like a family, or pro-God's designation of a family (which she is--one man, one woman, for life, etc). Pro-family means family comes FIRST, and each spouse puts that responsibility FIRST. [...]
I am not arguing that large numbers of conservative Christians will refuse to vote for the Republican ticket because they disapprove of Palin. But we should be aware that this pick was controversial within the evangelical Christian community as well as among other segments of the Republican base.
Even with Palin at his side, I do not think McCain will inspire as large an army of volunteer Christian soldiers as Bush did four years ago.