Waterboarding is not funny, Sarah Palin

Former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, gave a one-liner to an audience at the National Rifle Association that likened baptism to waterboarding torture.  Palin said in her speech:

They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad… Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.

It appeared that the joke was well received with the NRA audience. The rest of her speech was delivered with a snarky and sarcastic tone.

To Sarah Palin, waterboarding and baptism are such minor realities in her worldview, that she feels the need to belittle such serious topics. Senator John McCain, who was Palin’s running mate in 2008 and a former prison of war, has denounced the practice of waterboarding because it is torture.

Palin has made it abundantly clear that she is a born-again Evangelical Christian. Sarah Palin and I believe in the divinity of Christ, the salvation of God, and the importance of the biblical call for baptism and repentance of sin. However, where we completely differ is how we talk about baptism and torture.

On her Facebook page, Palin defended her remarks:

If some overly sensitive wusses took offense, remember the First Amendment doesn’t give you a right not to be offended. Perhaps hypocritical folks who only want Freedom of Speech to apply to those who agree with their liberal agenda might want to consider that the evil terrorists who were the brunt of my one-liner would be the first to strip away ALL our rights if given the chance.”

I believe in free speech, but also responsibility for that speech. Torture is a horrible practice.  Jesus Christ was tortured on a cross. I cannot imagine that Jesus would want anyone to suffer such fate. Palin’s extreme rhetoric only hurts the Christian witness. For a public figure who is a Christian to share such a joke leaves the impression that Christians do not take torture seriously. Such talk treats violence, without any thought about the dignity or sanctity of human life (no matter how evil the actions of a person) as a casual topic.

To jest that waterboarding is how she would “baptize terrorists” shows a complete lack of respect and reverence for the ordinance of holy baptism.  Sarah Palin has a lack of self-awareness. Some would say, “Hey lighten up. Terrorists are the enemy.” However, Palin’s track record of such inflammatory statements do nothing to advance the kingdom of God. The act of baptism is the mark of a Christian who dies to sin and is raise into new life through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did not die so that the act of baptism could be used as fodder for a political agenda.

We Christians must speak out again such ignorant and un-Christ like talk. Jokes about terrorists and baptism treat both topics as a drive-by joke to be laughed and used for scoring likability points.

I know folks will disagree with me on this issue of torture. No matter your view on torture or waterboarding, please treat such topics with all seriousness, good faith, and respect.

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education. http://alanrudnick.org

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  • Freebird4

    Thank you for this well written response to Palin. More people need to call her out for her horrific statement.

  • tommy9999

    Ms. Palin is a very poor representative of Christianity IMO.

  • honestyingov

    Nice post Alan,

    Sarah was so PROUD of herself as she gleefully made that baptism/torture analogy. Rewatch the clip again.. she was literally beaming with pride as she said it. She was totally clueless as to how WRONG it was for her to say that… OR.. she just didn’t care? She doesn’t ‘ care ‘ about a LOT of things these days.

    There are a lot of media though that have bought into this ‘ idea ‘ that Sarah is religious. Did THAT NRA speech sound or look like ANYTHING a religious person would say? ( I wouldn’t say so)

    She speaks TO or AT people (followers) who have beliefs. Does she practice what she preaches..?
    Matthew 7:16-20. “Thus by their fruit you will recognize them” Does palins words bear the fruit of a Christian?

    I know blogs friends who live in Alaska and some of them are even in Wasilla. They will tell you that sarah hasn’t been in a Church up there for years. Her media sales pitch makes you think(or wants you to believe?) that she is a Church person. It’s all a prop to her.

    I would say the last time anybody up there has seen her in any church was when Her friend the Witch Doctor said a prayer for her in the Wasilla Church. Notice the date.. Sept 2008.
    After that Date…Sarah became Professional Politician,.. then quitting that for the ‘ Love of Money ‘.

    Again–“Thus by their fruit you will recognize them”.( I Don’t recognize sarah as a Christian)