On Tuesday, I wrote a column that sought to correct a misperception about Gov. Sarah Palin's religous beliefs. She has been called a fundamentalist Christian, and by my reading, she falls more into the evangelical camp. Vote how you choose, but don't judge Palin based on misinformation about her theology.
I was raised fundamentalist, and I am painfully aware of the reputation gained by my tribe. I thought by being specific about where Palin falls in American theology, I was being helpful -- which is weird, because Palin is not my candidate and I said that, too (and why).
In response to invective provoked by this column:
Sarah Palin may be a lot of things, but she is not a fundamentalist Christian.
In fact, she is no more a fundamentalist than Barack Obama is a Muslim. The misinformation about both candidates (she's evangelical, by way of Roman Catholicism and Pentecostalism; he's a Congregationalist) has at its heart an ignorance that, like that fountain in the Sunday school song, runs deep and wide....she's an evangelical, the tribe of Christians to which roughly 26 percent of Americans belong. A fundamentalist is a tiny, unique (roughly three-tenths of a percent) subgroup of that, and Palin doesn't make the cut.
Fundamentalists — I was raised one — believe in the strict authority of the Bible, and all the stories therein. We believe in adult Baptism by immersion. We parse the little things. My church didn't allow instrumental music because Jesus never played the piano. We are a bit separatist. We'll be your friend, but we probably won't marry your cousin.... For years, a popular bumper sticker at my local Foodtown read, "God said. I believe it. That settles it."
Yet every religion — including that of a fundamentalist — is more nuanced than that. And just because you've never heard of a church is not necessarily a good reason to be scared.
Like the lady says, let's pray for each other.