The other day, I thought of Sarah Palin.
Scott Walker was standing in front of a crowd of what CNN was calling "evangelical Christians" and was reading aloud from a book of "devotionals" he said he reads every night.
It wasn't the Bible.
It's a book called Jesus Calling, in which author Sarah Young channels Jesus and writes down what he has to say. As in, "Hey, Jesus calling, why don't you take my thoughts, publish it as a book, and make a ton of money when it becomes a best seller among evangelicals?"
As you'd expect, many conservative Christians are outraged by Young's stunt, calling her a "false prophet," peddling "blasphemy."
But, that hasn't swayed Walker from reading Young channeling JC, consistent with his 2006 move to a Pentecostal church, which is a far cry from the liberal branch of the Baptist church that his father led as a pastor.
Pentecostals believe that certain people are endowed with "gifts of the spirit" that enable them to essentially channel God. This idea takes the form of someone "speaking in tongues," which sounds a lot like gibberish, but is actually just God's untranslated words.
But, anyway, back to Palin. When Walker was quoting a woman who was purportedly quoting Jesus, I imagined how the media would have circled and dived into this story. For weeks in 2008, the media thoroughly explored the fact Palin had regularly attended a Pentecostal church up until 2002.
The first line of a Wall Street Journal article pulled no punches: "At the Pentecostal church where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin worshiped for more than two decades, congregants speak in tongues and are part of a faith that believes humanity is in its ‘end times.’ ”
When Newsweek wrote its Palin-Pentecostalism story, the magazine observed "this biographical fact will likely become another religious Rorschach — pleasing to some, discomfiting to others."
ABC News pointed out in a piece on the "spiritual vetting" of Palin that, if elected, "she would become the most powerful Pentecostal in U.S. history."
But, with Walker? Not so much — even though Palin was running for vice president.
In fact, major news outlets have yet to describe Walker's church as "Pentecostal," even though it meets all the major criteria, including espousing that we are in the end times, that the Bible is literally true, that you must be "born again," and that non-Christians will spend the afterlife burning in Hell. Walker's Wauwatosa church, Meadowbrook, self-identifies as "nondenominational," but as the BBC noted, "It's not always easy to see if a church is Pentecostal because many Pentecostal denominations don't include the word 'Pentecostal' in their name."
All of these issues would have been thoroughly explored with Palin. Yet Walker gets a pass.
Why is that? Could it be that it’s easier for most of the media to fathom a woman's mind being overtaken by the hypnotic lure of religion and that the actual tenets of her religion, therefore, become exponentially scarier?
Or maybe the media has grown more reluctant to get into the weeds of a candidate's religion — viewing it as something private, outside of politician's public life.
This polite gesture is dangerous when dealing with someone like Walker, a crusader who has bluntly declared, "there is not a separation of church and state," who tweets proselytizing Bible verses on his official Twitter account, and who has claimed God literally speaks to him and guides his policy decisions.
Gift of the Spirit, indeed.