Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cartoonist Lampoons Sarah Palin's Pentecostal Faith

Houston Belief
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Palin's Pentecostal faith is now being lampooned by Pat Oliphant, Washington Post cartoonist. Oliphant has been called by the New York Times Magazine the "most influential editorial cartoonist" now working.

Certain members of the media have struggled with how to discredit Governor Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice President. The latest in this gambit is Oliphant's ridicule of a chief element of Pentecostalism: the biblical experience of Holy Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in other tongues (languages).

Pentecostals are outraged. The Reverend Jerry Jones, General Secretary of the United Pentecostal Church International, aptly expresses the disgust Pentecostals now share in a recent letter to the WaPo's editorial board:

To single out those of us who are Pentecostal and revere as well as practice the Scriptural experience of speaking in tongues in such a calculatedly offensive way is disgusting. That it was published by a leading U. S. newspaper is beyond belief. Quite obviously the board's phobia of Governor Palin has caused it to lose its senses as well as its decency. To attack her on the basis of her political positions is certainly within your right, but to attack and ridicule her solely on the basis of her faith, a faith that is practiced by a significant number of Americans is indefensible.

Reverend Jones is not alone in this. His was one of hundreds of voices registering outrage to the Washington Post. Deborah Howell, ombudsman for the paper, agreed that the cartoon was over the top and clarified the manner in which cartoons are selected for the paper's website.

Had Oliphant mocked the Muslim faith in a similar manner, the response would have been loud and strong. (Anyone remember the Danish cartoonist who tried that?) Or, should the cartoonist have ridiculed the Catholic faith of the Democratic nominee for Vice President, the response would again be swift and profound. But, lampooning Pentecostals is fair game for certain segments of the media who view intolerance as the only mortal sin - unless the intolerance is toward a person's particular faith.

Speaking of the Danish cartoonist, the editor of that newspaper issued an apology for its extreme insensitivity to the Muslim faith. What about it Washington Post? Do you want to go down this slippery slope in the pick-and-choose mode of offending religions? Even your own ombudsman said this was beyond the pale. Why not pony up an apology?

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