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Ummmm ... I seem to recall something about Barack Obama's religion (whichever one you think he is), his church, and his pastor getting pretty intensely scrutinized. How is this a double-standard?

And, speaking of wacky pastors, when are we going to hear about Sarah Palin's pastor who "questions the salvation" of anyone who wouldn't vote for Bush in 2004.

I'm not an Obama supporter, but Palin's getting off easy compared to the roasting he got earlier this year.

BREAKING NEWS: Conservative writer defends Republican candidate and criticizes media.

I never would have seen this coming.

Mike,

The double standard rests in the notion that, as far as the left is concerned, pastors should be able to shout "g-d d--m America" (or other such enlightened political epithets) all they want in their Sunday services without it reflecting the political preferences of those ardent adherents who happen to be running for public office.

So why should they give a hang what Palin's pastor has to say?

Jack,

Then isn't it just as much of a double standard that the conservative media played up Obama's ties to Wright and argued that his association with Wright must reflect his own views, and that now the same conservative press is defending Sarah Palin's controversial church ties?

Although I have seen some theologians defending Wright, I don't know any lefties that have defended his statements. I am sure that there must be someone but your characterization of "the left" is a straw man. Justifications of Wright are rare, even among "the left."

Your claim would be correct if and only if the same individuals that have defended Wright are now attacking Palin's minister.

I still don't get why voters should not be allowed to question a candidates religious beliefs. We are allowed to question their other beliefs, why not the religious ones?

In the context of your concern, Dave, what do you make of the e-mail campaign incorrectly depicting Barack Obama as a Muslim?

Hellmut, that doesn't seem like religious scrutiny as much as misinformation.

Yes, misinformation is part of it. But the misinformation would not be useful if Muslims would be just as electable as Christians.

I don't see this as the same as Romney because that was Republicans/conservatives "scrutinizing" (i.e. ridiculing) Romney's faith from within in order to weed him out during the primary season. Thus, although of course the left was also skeptical and critical and ridiculing of Romney's religion, they were political opponents of Romney and so it seems expected from them. What seems hypocritical is the right critizing the left for calling Palin's faith into question and saying that her faith is off-limits or criticisms thereof are illegitimate when that is exactly what the right did to Romney, not that the left is now saying "The Pentecostals believe something so irrational and dangerous and you are going to vote for this person as VP?" The left is expected to say that; the right, however, can hardly say that the left is in error to resort to that tactic when the right itself made ample use of it to discredit Romney in a scorched earth campaign in which Romney's religion was the nuke used to take him down.

Note the muslim disinformation campaign was the Clintons which then took a life of its own and never died. (Not exactly helped by his misspeaking last week on ABC about it)

I do agree with John F that there is a huge double standard between how Evangelicals look at Palin vs. Romney on the religion issue.

But double standards abound in politics. I argued earlier that such hypocrisy is somewhat defensible in such contexts.

Everybody should feel free to scrutinize what Palin thinks of God.

I do.

Good pressure always seems to squeeze out what really is the inside belief that one has for God.

Mike: "How is this a double-standard?"

Because Mike, the questions in the mainstream media about Rev. Wright began this year, months after talk radio began questioning the judgment of candidate Obama attending a church so steeped in Black Liberation Theology; and months after Romney's religion was the topic of intense scrutiny in the mainstream media, but he's a Republican, so he's fair game, right?

Compare that to the mere weeks that Palin has been on the scene. Double standard? You betcha!

Note the muslim disinformation campaign was the Clintons which then took a life of its own and never died. (Not exactly helped by his misspeaking last week on ABC about it)
Hillary refused to discount the rumor but my impression was that the e-mail chain letter was started by Evangelicals long before the Clintons went negative on Obama. If anyone has any evidence, I would love to see it. Regardless, the whole affair implies a religious test: Muslims shall not be President of the United States. Therefore, it seems to me that this relevant to Dave's concern.

There has to be a middle way.

There are instances where religion is relevant. For example, I don't care whether the Arian Nation is a political or religious organization. It's evil and adherence to the Arian Nation should disqualify candidates in the eyes of the voters.

On the other hand, "weird" beliefs are not relevant.

The distinction probably has to do with the candidate's commitment to freedom of the conscience. There might be another dimension that should somehow relate to decision making. I would like to know how religion influences a candidate's decision.

Hellmut,

I think the relevant point is that much of the left felt that Obama should not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for his ties to Rev. Wright *inspite* of his outlandish rhetoric--not that they condoned the rhetoric per se. No straw man there.

Christopher,

You're right that it can go both ways--such has always been the case between both major parties--each pointing the finger and charging the other with hypocrisy. But I think the point in this case is one of degree. Let's see, first, just exactly how deeply Palin is rooted in this particular congregation. And, second, let's see if her pastor's rhetoric even comes close to the kind of brazen inflamatory silliness that Wright is known for.

If a religion teaches its adherents things that have an immediate practical impact on how they might vote or govern in the here and now on matters under dispute, I would say that those aren't what are conventionally called religious beliefs at all, but rather political ones. The fact that they are propagated by a religious organization or in the name of is immaterial.

The contermporary LDS Church goes out of its way not to take sides on most such issues. Liberation theology tends to take the opposite approach, although not as severe as too many Muslims - who (following ample precedent) regrettably seem to consider their religion more a political program for world domination than a guide to personal morality and matters eschatological.

If Palin's church, for example, taught that the Tribulation was going to occur on a date certain in the near future, that would be a matter of some relevance would it not?

Mark Butler! Where have you been, dude?

OT: I usually post as Mark D., although not very much these days.

First off I have to observe that most of the commentators did not read Barnes observations. What Barnes point on a double standard is is that while yes there has been talk about Obama and his pastor it has focused on Wright's political and not Wright's religious beliefs.
In the case of Palin, she is no longer a member of the Pentacostal church in question. Besides this people are criticinzing her belief that the world war created by God, not political beliefs she holds.
If we were to apply the same standards to her opponant, Biden, we would ask him if he believes in transubstantiation and Papal infallibility. These questions have no political importance, and neither do most of the questions brought up about Palin's religion.

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