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Why Our Elites Fear Faith By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Friday, September 12, 2008


NOTHING in recent memory has driven home the divide between our self-appointed aristocracy and "commoners" as sharply as the intelligentsia's rush to mock Gov. Sarah Palin's religious faith.

While the attacks and insults are backfiring on the mortified elites, the double standard applied to "Sarah America" is a disgrace that can't be excused as "just politics."

Certainly, much of the left-wing fury over Palin stems from the Democratic Party's assumption that it "owned" the exclusive right to nominate women to the executive branch (despite the crushing of Hillary Clinton's candidacy). How dare the Republicans advance a woman? How dare they change this year's election script?

But the root of the left's dread of this happily married mother of five seems to be that she actually believes in God: How could anyone be that stupid?

Such a woman wouldn't fit in Washington (nor would a man of equal faith). In the DC area (where I live), plenty of government-affiliated men and women regularly attend a church or synagogue. But their appearances are perfunctory and well-mannered. Passionate faith is regarded as an embarrassment.

Washington fears faith - even nominal believers inside the Beltway have been shaped by secular educations and secular caste values.

Humans fear what they can't understand, and our comfortable ruling class just can't comprehend the power and the glory, the beauty and the ecstasy, the awe and commitment experienced by those who believe in a divine power. To paraphrase the late Leona Helmsley, "Faith is for the little people."

Believers are mocked (if not too publicly at election time). Sen. Barack Obama's behind-closed-doors remark in San Francisco to the effect that worried blue-collar chumps cling to God and guns perfectly captured the left's worldview, equating faith and firearms as equal menaces to an enlightened society.

Then along came Palin to appall the establishment - a moose-hunting Christian with a working-class husband, the precise stereotype Obama had mocked. The media's attacks on her since her nomination have been the most unfair I've ever seen.

Let me be clear: I disagree with Palin on a number of issues. But I believe in fairness. And I believe in freedom of religion for all who do not attempt to force their faith on others. One of the many glories of our country is that men and women are free to find their individual paths to God - or to disbelieve, should they so choose.

But I can't accept the snotty condescension of those who assume that faith is for dopes. I come from a world where belief is powerful - small-town, hardscrabble America. I have relatives whose faith is embedded in exuberant communal worship and public celebrations of redemption and joy. Washington, the professorate and the media not only don't understand such believers, they despise them.

Earlier this week, I watched, sickened, as CNN did its best to excite fear of Palin's religious beliefs. She grew up in a Pentecostal congregation - whose members, a smug reporter told us, often talk in tongues. Though the report noted that there's no "proof" that Palin herself had done so, the implication was that Sarah Barracuda must be a nut job.

Then CNN told us about an Alaskan pastor's remark that his state might become a refuge in the "end times." The implication was that Palin must share that belief, too.

The coverage just piled on, unjust, unfair and un-American. The unspoken bottom line was that active religious faith disqualifies a candidate.

Well, for all the joyous noise at those Alaskan churches, I'll bet my life that none of the pastors who preached to Palin over the years ever shouted "God damn America!" or blamed the United States for the world's ills, or accused our government of creating AIDS to kill black Americans.

None of the bigoted, hate-filled rants of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright have been replayed to counterbalance the mockery heaped upon Palin's religious background. Of course, Wright's anti-American tirades fit the worldview of the Dems' left-wing base - so Obama got a pass when he claimed that, over 20 years, he never heard any hate speech in Wright's church.

Besides, Dems believe that blacks are supposed to jump around and shout in church - but whites who do that are wackos. (No stereotypes there, folks!)

I don't see extremism in Palin's faith. I see the love of God that prevails beyond the Beltway. The media's bigotry toward her tells us far more about the political biases and snobbery of journalists than it does about Sen. John McCain's running mate.

In recent years, a succession of pundits has compared our country to ancient Rome. Most of the assertions are silly. But our governing elite certainly shares the Roman patricians' disdain for the faith of the common citizen.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


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