Oh, I get it. The reason that major news media are not asking Sarah Palin about Joel's Army is...they're shaking in their shoes. They're afraid Palin will start yelling that her faith is being persecuted. As one friend of mine put it today, "We're not supposed to ask about a candidate's personal religion." But let's delve into this alleged protectiveness of candidates' First Amendment rights. The fact is -- now and in the past, the mainstream media do ask nosy questions about candidates' religion.
To start with, Republicans had no problem raking Obama over the coals about his religion. Even Obama's family came in for raking. His Muslim father, his agnostic mother, the allegations that his Islamic connections make him a stool pigeon for foreign terrorists -- it was all launched into the headlines months ago, and is still being bruited around today. From Newsweek to Salon, the media have scrutinized Obama's statement that he is "rooted in Christian tradition" like it's one of those angels dancing on the head of a pin.
The media also didn't hesitate when it came to Mitt Romney and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Among others, Time Magazine did a serious line-by-line analysis of objections to Romney's beliefs -- starting with LDS discrimination against women. The biggest discussion point of all: many Catholics and Protestants get the willies because Mormons don't believe in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus the way Protestants do. They don't consider Mormons to be "Christian" (even though the Mormons say they do believe in Christ). The implication is that we can't have a President who doesn't believe in the Trinity.
Gee, Unitarians don't believe in the Trinity either. But the U.S. had four Unitarian Presidents (Adams, Quincy Adams, Fillmore and Taft) ...and the sky didn't fall.
Nor should we forget the high profiling on Joe Lieberman's Jewish faith, when Al Gore tapped him as running mate in 2000. According to The Nation, Gore and Lieberman responded by doing "their best to outdo the Republicans at religiosity. Gore made a point of his born-again Christianity, rejected "hollow secularism" and declared his support for 'charitable choice,' a policy that would loosen the rules for allotting public funds to faith-based programs. Lieberman was even bolder: He responded to what he called the 'miracle' of his nomination with repeated public professions of faith in God, along with declarations that religion is the basis of morality and that the Constitution provides 'freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.'"
Last but not least, anybody old enough to remember will recall the epic uproar around John F. Kennedy's Catholicism. A 1962 Time piece is still posted online, for those who'd like to get the flavor of those times. Certain people were convinced that Kennedy would violate U.S. sovereignty by answering to a foreign sovereign power, namely the Pope. After JFK was elected, there was even a flap over whether he would be willing to take the oath of office with his hand on the Bible. Some Americans evidently never got the word that Catholics read the Bible too.
So there are plenty of precedents for airing the questions around Sarah Palin's extremist ultra-militant Third Wave associates, and the degree of her commitment to them. No way does such a discussion add up to a "religious test" that actually bars a candidate from office because of religion, or violate a candidate's privacy, or a candidate's religious-freedom rights. If you're going to run for office, you take what comes with the territory. Especially since these Joel's Army people are talking about "taking dominion" over the United States and setting up some sort of quasi-monarchy under "King Jesus." I'd kinda like to know more about that before the election, and it's my guess that other Americans would like to know as well.
So why are the major media walking on eggs with this one? Could it be that Palin is getting a pass because she's a Protestant? Is it possible that it's okay to put Mormons, Jews, etc. under the microscope, but not Protestants? Taking it one step further...do the right-wing Protestants have more juice with the corporate media? Do they get to be more sheltered from this kind of discussion than do Mormons, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, astrologers, Catholics et al?
As another friend of mine, a Catholic, remarked to me wryly once, "Now and then, just as I'm about to relax and forget, I'm forcibly reminded all over again that America is really a Protestant country."