This weekend, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate spoke at a gathering of the National Rifle Association. During her talk she stated, “If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” That line was met with considerable applause from the crowd.
Although I have a lot of areas of disagreement with Sarah Palin’s former running mate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, one position that I did appreciate was his steadfast opposition to torture. Having served in Vietnam, we have been told that he experienced horrible treatment at the hands of his captors and thus knows firsthand of these loathsome practices. As such, McCain believes that America should not embrace the inhuman tactics of torture. Regrettably, it seems that Sarah Palin thinks otherwise.
Palin’s viewpoint seems to harken back to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who famously declared that anyone suspected of being a terrorist, whether proven or not, should not be afforded due process or legal protection under either the U.S. Constitution or international law.
Also, Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to understand that although torture can sometimes provide useful information, it can also be wildly unreliable as “people will say anything when subjected to intense pain“.
Not only are Palin’s comments on Saturday disturbing from the perspective of constitutional liberty and human rights, they also indicate a troubling theology.
Does she believe that we ought to forcibly baptize non-Christians? Are her thoughts a nod to the idea of conversion by the sword, the same practice that many on the right condemn some Muslims for enacting on their non-Muslim neighbors?
And shouldn’t most Christians be offended by the idea of comparing baptism, which many of us believe holds deep theological significance, to the loathsome torture of waterboarding? Do we honestly believe that baptism ought to be held up in the same light of simulated drowning?
Therefore, as they are an affront to both civil liberties and to Christianity, Sarah Palin’s comments regarding baptism by waterboarding must be completely and utterly repudiated.