Faithful America, an online Christian community, launched a petition on Monday denouncing Sarah Palin's recent remarks at a National Rifle Association meeting, which compared baptism to waterboarding.
At the NRA's "Stand And Fight" rally on Saturday the former Alaska governor said, "Enemies, who would utterly annihilate America, they who'd obviously have information on plots, to carry out Jihad. Oh, but you can't offend them, can't make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we'd baptize terrorists."
Faithful America's petition has received nearly 45,000 signatures, according to their website -- far above the initial goal of 15,000.
The petition reads:
For Christians, torture is not a joke or a political punchline, but a ghastly reminder of the suffering of Jesus upon the cross. By equating it with Holy Baptism -- the act by which we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection -- Sarah Palin is blasphemously twisting our faith into a weapon of hatred and violence. No media outlet should cover her remarks without reporting on how sincere Christians of all theological and political persuasions are appalled.
Palin defended her comments in a Facebook post on Monday, saying:
"Perhaps hypocritical folks who only want Freedom of Speech to apply to those who agree with their liberal agenda might want to consider that the evil terrorists who were the brunt of my one-liner would be the first to strip away ALL our rights if given the chance. That’s why we do whatever we can to prevent them from killing innocent people. And for that, we should NEVER apologize."
Religion writer Sarah Posner also expressed criticism of Palin's remarks in an article on Religion Dispatches. Posner questions Palin's proclaimed faith and descries the former governor's "blaspheming of a religious sacrament." Posner writes:
"In joking that torture was like a baptism, Palin revealed her view of evangelization as an act of force, not love, and her view of salvation as something one imposes on irredeemable enemies, who further prove their lesser worth by protesting and resisting it."
On their website, which professes to "reclaim Christianity from the religious right," Faithful America writes that their petition aims to set the record straight about baptism and torture.