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Dear Sarah Palin


"If I were in charge, they would know that water boarding is how we baptize terrorists." - Sarah Palin

I am not sure if you aware of this, but you just committed a pretty serious sin. No, you didn't commit adultery, get caught doing drugs, or pocketed public money. This type of sin makes those look pretty petty. Let me try to spell out just exactly was has happened here.

It actually shouldn't be news to you. In fact, there have been people calling you and your lot out on this for as long as I can remember. From within the Church, and from without. People from all walks of life, from all over the world, from every political persuasion. The criticism basically is this: You have turned Jesus into a war lord.

Now, you may deny this. Many on your side have carefully constructed a personal/state dichotomy which looks at the message of the Kingdom and applies it differently in different circumstances. Different standards are expected from different groups of society. A Christian individual may be required to love his/her neighbor, but a Christian state can bomb the crap out of theirs. Nonetheless, "religious" language is still utilized at the state level which ensures continuity for the religious political base, although bereft of binding substance. In other words, religious language is used at the shallowest level, disconnected from its meaning, as a rallying point and nothing more. This is the type of language, more specifically, the philosophy that such language represents, which is so damning.

However, I am actually relieved your language was so specific, so perfectly representative of the disturbing union between violent political right wing ideology, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes the mutation is so subtle, that I question whether it is truly there. But now I can't question it anymore. What has caused such an aberration? You, and all those who cheered for your "Violent Baptism", are guilty of the horrible sin of blasphemy.

Blasphemy twists that which is beautiful. It takes something divine, and taints it with human depravity. Blasphemy, according to Christ, will never be forgiven (Mark 3:29). So congratulations Mrs. Palin, on wading into waters in which one is certain to drown.

Think about what you are actually saying. Baptism in the New Testament is linked with salvationn. I think you are a very intelligent person, and I think you used that language for a very specific reason. You, and those like you, believe that political salvation is the result of violence. Furthermore, your statement was made at a NRA rally, a group of people we know to be committed to violent means. The language, and the audience it was spoken to, represent a deeply bigoted philosophy of life - the "us vs. them" mentality which ultimately leads to disaster. This "Violent Baptism" conjugates that philosophy with morally reprehensible action perfectly. Of course torture is legitimate. Of course preemptive war is excused. Of course "non us/US" lives aren't worth a damn. This half breed of politics and "salvation" is worth doing anything to achieve.

Holy Baptism on the other hand is one of the oldest, most vivid pictures of the forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ. It is the moment in which the Holy Spirit moves to secure the salvation of the sinner. It is a powerful and holy symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:4). There is nothing, in all of Christianity, more meaningful and sacred than baptism.

You have taken something beautiful and divine and turned it into an act of human violence and depravity.

Can you not even see the irony? The irony of seething over the "jihad" of the Muslims, while using the same type of religiously motivated war mongering language; the synthesis of religion with political purpose. This has rarely worked in history. I hate to remind you of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the 9/11 attacks, and the war in Iraq for complete failures of leaders who felt the "call of God" to wage violence. I am hoping your followers don't fall for it. I am hoping they call you out to repent and if you don't, expel you as they would anyone from their church sanctuary who would deny the Resurrection. You are crafting a version of Jesus not worth following.

Maybe this sounds a little over the top, but I have a feeling more than a few of your people are feeling extremely uncomfortable with this type of rhetoric. I don't believe that Jesus, the New Testament, and the Church have really given us a legitimate means in which we could ever justify the torturing of our enemy. If you ever wanted a more clear, obvious and literal definition of an enemy who Christians are to love, it is a terrorist in a jail cell.

Anyone, like you, who invokes Christ as their war lord, has failed to know him as Lord of their life.

I will conclude with the words of the Apostle Peter, which are the only words regarding baptism which should ever be spoken, words for you and for all mankind: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"

Grace and peace,

Matthew

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