Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fire At Wasilla Bible Church

On December 12, a fire broke out at Wasilla Bible Church, famously known as Sarah Palin's church, causing approximately $1 million damage in what authorities believe may be arson. On his next (syndicated) radio program, three days later, an obviously frustrated Glenn Beck argued "this story not being anywhere just proves how ubiquitous this story really is" and complained

Now, I don't think that this church being burned down should lead the news, but in today's society maybe it should. In the America I grew up in, it wouldn't have to. I mean, I know the President was almost hit by a shoe and everything, but isn't this a pretty big story? Whenever there's some racist that burns down a black church in the South somewhere, the story is everywhere. But the woman who has come closer than any other to being vice president of the United States has her church burned down and you barely find the story anywhere.

Beck deserves sympathy for concluding that arson at churches is "ubiquitous." There appeared to be a spate of churches, most of them black and in the south, being put on fire, resulting in extensive media coverage in the 1990s. Fortunately, most evidence indicates that arson at churches was no epidemic. Although reliable statistics, he points out, are sketchy, here Michael Fumento notes "a dramatic drop in the number of church arsons- from 1,420 in 1980 to 520 in 1994."

Those numbers still are way too high, but suggest that setting churches on fire is an ongoing (and largely unexamined) problem, rather than a characteristic feature of "today's society." And as to the Repub vice presidential nominee having "her church burned down and you barely find the story anywhere?" Here is one of many possible reasons: Wasilla Bible Church is not Sarah Palin's church. In fact, no church is Sarah Palin's church, as she explained to CBS's Katie Couric on September 30, 2008:

Well, you're absolutely wrong, again, on the facts. My church, I don't have a church, I'm not a member of any church. I get to visit a couple of churches in Alaska when I'm home, including one, Wasilla Bible Church...

I know Governor Earmark has among the denizens of the Christian right (and, less favorably, among the left) a reputation as a Bible-believing, God-loving, devout Christian woman dedicated to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She might be all that but, at least as of the date of her interview with Ms. Couric, actually belonging to a church was not part of her portfolio.

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