Knowing God's Will in Politics and Government: Gov. Palin's Bankrupt Theology

10/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A blogger on a newspaper website observed that Gov. Sarah Palin has a gift for composing sentences containing a noun, a verb, and the word "God."

Indeed, her True North points toward knowing God's will in things political, as described in the page one, September 6, New York Times story from Wasilla: "In Palin's Life and Politics, Goal to Follow God's Will," by Kirk Johnson and Kim Severson.

Interviews by the reporters with her former and current pastors, at the Assembly of God church and at the Wasilla Bible Church, respectively, pointed to a firm conclusion: her foundation and source of guidance is the Bible, and with it has come a conviction she is God's servant.

In a recent address at the Assembly of God Church, Ms. Palin encouraged young church leaders to pray that "God's will" be done in bringing about the construction of a big gas pipeline in her state, and suggested her work as governor would be hampered "if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God." She also told the group that her eldest child would soon be deployed by the Army to Iraq, and that they should pray "that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God, that's what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan." And there's the rub.

The most disturbing aspect of the report from Wasilla is the obvious tendency of Gov. Palin to link desired political outcomes in Alaska and the country to God's will -- for example, praying for the construction of a new gas pipeline; or the suggestion that America's soldiers are on a God-assigned task in Iraq.

The issue is not that Palin (and her evangelical pastors) believe that the Bible provides guidance, or possibly even answers, in making difficult decisions in the public arena. Rather, it is that she seems to be convinced that the answers -- or outcomes in public policy -- she covets are what she gets from prayer and holy writ. There is the tendency also to believe that a divine spirit uniquely directs her actions.

The real danger of religion in politics is not the relationship as such, but the stubborn and immovable mind set that baptizes political interests as authorized by God -- the merits of which interests then become absolute, and therefore immune from rational debate.

There has been more than enough of such heresy in the White House for the last eight years. God will not be mocked.

By the way, what is the qualitative difference between Sarah Palin's expropriation of the will of God and the suggestion by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on CBN's 700 Club -- two days after September 11, 2001--that an angry-at-America God was at work in the airplane attacks upon New York and Washington? "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Falwell. Not acts of man, Governor?