Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Dear Governor Palin,
Your it’s-not-a-campaign-bus-tour has motored through the National Archives, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty and Donald Trump’s penthouse.
So obviously you are highlighting America’s most historic sites. But as you head toward New England and beyond, I’d like to suggest four additional sites, sacred to the chain of memory that is American religion.
Together these sacred places acknowledge not only the powerful role that Christianity has played in American life (something you often mention) but also the fact of American religious diversity (something you might mention more).
1. Plymouth Rock
There isn’t much to see here. In fact, when I took a field trip there as a kid I was disappointed, and I rather doubt Governor Bradford and his Mayflower Pilgrims actually disembarked here.
But there wasn't any rioting here, like at Boston's Tea Party. Just writing: the Mayflower Compact, which brought these separatists from the Church of England together in a religious and political “covenant” enacted “for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith.”
In other words, right up your alley!
There is also a great bas-relief of the signing of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown just under the Pilgrim Monument, but if you are running for president (and I know you haven't announced) that's probably not a very good campaign stop.
2. Jonathan Edwards' Church
Another town you might want to visit is Northampton in western Massachusetts. Like Provincetown it’s more gay-friendly than Palin-friendly, but since you aren’t campaigning (right?) perhaps that can be overlooked.
The draw here is First Churches of Northampton. Today this congregation, formed through a merger of First Church of Christ (Congregational) and First Baptist Church (American Baptist) bills itself as “open and affirming” and “environmentally covenanted.”
But BPC (before political correctness) it was the church of the revivalist Jonathan Edwards and Ground Zero for the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s.
This awakening gave us evangelicalism, which gave us Pentecostalism, which gave us your Assemblies of God denomination. So though it’s outside the Bible Belt you should feel right at home! Don't stay for the sermon, however. They gave up the fire-and-brimstone centuries ago.
3. Walden Pond
During the Second Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century, as America was turning on to Jesus, Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were looking to find God not in church but in nature. “Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand,” Thoreau wrote.
Thoreau, of course, did that experiment of his at Walden Pond. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
More than 140 characters, I know, but pretty good as aphorisms go.
Anyway, it seems to me that Thoreau's ways of living and dying are worth pondering, and after you've done that you have to admit that there are a lot of "spiritual but not religious" voters out there (not that that matters, of course).
Anyway, it’s worth a try! Though you won’t find any moose to shoot in Concord.
4. Hill Cumorah
I'd like to send you to the Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts, for a little slice of Buddhism or to New England’s first Hindu temple in Ashland, Massachusetts, but whistle stops like that would be like red meat (or tofu) for the "lamestream media."
So here’s a more practical suggestion: one of Mormonism’s most sacred places, Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York.
This is where the golden plates that God (supposedly) revealed to Joseph Smith, Jr. through the angel Moroni were buried, and after Smith dug them up and "translated" them they became the Book of Mormon (the book, not the musical).
The best time to visit is early July when they are putting on the Hill Cumorah Pageant, Mormon America's analog to the popular Passion Plays of Europe. But even now it’s worth a visit.
I know you’re not running for president (at least not yet!) but let’s pretend for a moment you were. Wouldn’t it make sense to know something about Mormonism, given that two of your Republican challengers—Mitt Romney and John Huntsman—are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? (Just a thought.)
So that's where I think you should go. Safe travels, and (as presidents say), "God Bless America!"
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
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Ok...so what we know so far about Adelina is she is foreign-born, doesn't speak good English, knows nothing of the subject of this blog, thumps the bible, and hates America.
Thank you, Adelina. Now, go away and let intelligent people converse.
Perhaps there is a church open in your neighborhood and you can go to confession and admit you are a hopeless NUT.
Why is the media following her? Because she has put herself out there. Here are my suggestions for her tour:
A library and a psychiatrist. One to actually read and self-educate. The other to find out why she is so personally messed up and has so much trouble with the truth.
Plymouth Rock? The Pilgrams believed that marriage was a civil contract and a man-made thing, like Christmas and Easter. Not so sure that they would go about protesting the holiness of marriage, or the taking of "Christ" out of Christmas. Not so sure that they'd like any of the fancy suits or churches of today either. They'd probably feel more at home back in England, actually.
Christian women serve their country better at home in front of a stove.
Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Palin, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?
The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.
2008 Presidential popular vote results:
69,456,897 for pro-abortion BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.
And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe we should label them the "Stupid Majority"?)
(The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)
(Currently, a perfect birth control barrier system does not exist. Time to develop one! In the meantime, mono-ma-sturbation or mutual ma-sturbation are highly recommended for hete-rose-xuals who need a contraceptive. Abstinence is another best-solution but obviously the se-x drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to temporarily eliminate said drive?)
Thank you! Nothing like a dose of REALITY for those who stumble through life with their ears plugged and their eyes closed.
I love the "immoral majority" tag. I'll use that too. Palin will live and die in denial. Meanwhile, who's with Trigg? Does she remember she has a little boy with Down's Syndrome at home? Or, is he in an orphanage now? I guess that just blows the "pro family" thing where so much else about her has blown.
WHAT ABOUT OFF A CLIFF? LET'S FACE IT, THE WOMAN IS A RACIST, A BIGOT, A MORON AND A REDNECK. SHE SPREADS HATE AND STRIVES TO DISRUPT AND DIVIDE AMERICA WITH HER BIGTORY AND RACISM. I'M AN AMERICAN WHO BELIEVE THAT WE'RE ONE NATION UNDER GOD, UNITED BY A COMMON CAUSE TO LIVE THE AMERICAN DREAM AND HAVE A BETTER LIFE FOR OUR SELVES AND FAMILY REGARDLESS OF OUR RACE, ETHNICITY OR RELIGION. BUT UNFORTUNATELY, SINCE PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS TAKEN OFFICE PEOPLE LIKE SARAH PALIN, RUSH LIMBAUGH, DONALD TRUMP AND MANY IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAVE BEEN BENT ON RETURNING AMERICA BACK TO THE JIM CROW ERA OF THE 1950'S AND 60'S BECAUSE THEY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE COLOR OF THE PRESIDENT'S SKIN. LET'S FACE IT, AMERICA HAS GROWN UP AND WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY SINCE THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT AND SINCE SEGREGATION AND SLAVERY IN AMERICA AND THE LAST THING WE NEED IS TO HAVE PEOPLE LIKE SARAH PALIN SPREAD HER BIGOTRY AND RACISM IN AMERICA IN AN ATTEMPT TO RETURN AMERICA A CENTURY BACKWARDS. YES, SARAH PALIN NEXT TRIP SHOULD BE OFF A FRIGGING CLIFF.
You obviously are not a Christian.
Sarah's next stop should be to a Nudist Colony so we can truly
inspect her 'assets", in preparation for a White House run.
Wow, some disturbing posts here. Palin is a joke on the global stage. She is just a spewer of sensationalist talking points with no substance, because that is all she is capable of. I want politicians who are REALLY smart. It takes above average intelligence to make decisions about the country and the world. Palin is also a liar – it will all come out in time. Just wait.
I'm in complete agreement with you. What is REALLY disturbing is that this woman can truthfully claim that she is a former candidate for VP of the United States. How did this country get to that point? What an utter embarrassment. As to her lying, she has been caught many times. The thing is, people don't pay that much attention because those of us who see her clearly despise her and those of us who love her refuse to see.
Maybe America simply needs another white male president who is not liberal... Conservative women are better than liberal men.
From the Bernice King story I thought you took a dim view of women in leadership roles? Are you saying that it's OK for a woman president to speak with authority over every man in the nation, but she shouldn't be allowed to speak in church? How's that going to work if she should choose to lead a prayer at some function? No Christian man should bear a woman leading prayer, or lecturing them in any way, right?
If we elect, Palin would that mean that we are really electing her husband as the ultimate leader? You feel that Todd should be her master, right? Really, would Paul have approved a woman with this much authority over men?
Free, women can give testimonies at church and offer public prayers. ("Leading prayer" is an English expression, not in every language.) Mrs. Palin's head(leader) is her husband but she can remain as the head of the state since USA is not a church. Free, if there is no man to stand for the cause of God, woman or even a child can do it, but it's a pathetic situation for all men involved. Live for justice with mercy, Free.
"Mrs. Palin's head(leader) is her husband"
In all things, even her job? Does she have to bow to Todd's whim if he disagrees with her decisions? If she were elected president would she be his leader as well? I'm just trying to define Paul's chauvinism. Is it a general rule between men and women, or just a church thing?
"Free, if there is no man to stand for the cause of God, woman or even a child can do it,"
Children I can understand, but why divide it between men and women? Why not just say that adults stand for the cause of God? Didn't Paul do away between such distinctions in Galatians 3:28?
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Bible thumpers are so entertaining. Its too bad you never will have what you want. Although you obviously breath and eat religion, you can't drag us in. We're out here in the real world. You think you are "Christian". That's a cover for being afraid of nearly everything wonderful that God created....in his infinite wisdom....including people of color and gays.
I would like to see her visit Harlem... at night... by herself, unescorted, wearing a bikini. Or maybe Afghanistan in the tribal areas, with no veil, in a bikini, at night.
God does not bless an immoral nation like USA.
poor poor Adelina
There is no god.
@Meh, no, there is no god. There is God, however. Atheists don't know how to properly capitalize letters in the English language. ESL students are better than you.
You bore me.
No Adelina, meh is right... There is no god... He is a figment of your imagination.
What kind of maudlin is this prothero guy? How much doe CNN pay him for dribble like this I wonder
His manner is okay. He just should not confuse USA with Israel.
The first female American President... not a bad idea.
ADELINA-WHAT-are you talking about. I live in OKLAHOMA. I am a veteran in combat. What did I say about Canada or being Canadian. Your logic is simply distroted by your Palinism. She is not a very person-simply a below average intelligent person who has no policies or solutions-just constant criticism. And PLEASE don't play the woman hate card on ME. And I am not a registered Dem or Repub. Realize the true fool before you go off!
this was meant to be a reply to your comments below. I have no problem with a women in office just someone more qualified than Palin.
Mr. Joe B., I'm sorry for my inadequate English language. I just wanted to make sure you didn't mix up Canada and Alaska. Thank you for serving the country. Actually I don't know much about Mrs. Palin and I'm not an American. Both CNN and the CNN commenters bash her so badly I knew she must be someone extraordinarily excellent. Why do you consider her not-so-intelligent, sir?
Mr. Joe B., you should feel trouble with women in office. If I were a man, I'd do my best to excel so no woman should give me any order. And if I(as a man) should listen to any woman, she must be more righteous than me. Boneless manhood has all the bad reasons, Joe. I'm sad as a woman I have to say this to the world in my old age. Never imagined this kind of ugly, pervert world.
I now know how decent German parents felt in the pre-war Germany... It's all so wrong...
I have no problem with your English language skills-never said I did. I admit you confuse me.
And please don't thank me for my service in a war zone. I did what my country asked me to do-no more no less. Nor should you think less of a man who hasn't served for whatever reason. He is no less of a man than me. I'll let my wife and kids and grandkids judge my manhood-not you. I can really judge that for myself.
By the way-I have no idea what your problem is (please ask your friend) but my Mom was born in Nuremberg, Germany. But I have no idea how that comes up in a discussion about Sarah.
One station on TV may knock here, but FOX sure supports her. I watch neither. I only judge people by what they say.
I will be 65 in October. I would agree that this world could be a finer place. You can help make it that way. Things like the internet are helpful, but also very harmful when not used properly.
I wish you well! We just disagree on Palin. And why I think she has a below IQ-I listen to what she says. Check YouTube or any site to see what I mean.
Joe, serving in military is different from other vocations as it involves risking life. Also, you handle deady weapons there so I expect much higher ethics and moral education in US military. So why can't you explain that Mrs. Palin has low IQ? People keep bashing her without knowing her. I think that's a problem. I think you all attack her just because she is conservative. You all just want immorality to keep on in your own nation. I pity your children and grand children.
Just because you are in the military doesn't mean you handle deadly weapons on a daily basis...tard.
Meh, he was a combatant. Read with a context, atheist.
Mrs. Palin must be a very good person because bad Americans hate her.
She is a hateful person-not very nice. She even quit her own state.
AND AMERICANS ARE NO BAD AMERICANS!!!!!!!
Joe, why don't you give that to Canada because you think Canada is yours. Americans should respect their politicians if you want Canadians(and whatever countries) to respect you. Show respect!
There are no sacred places in America. And the original place of landing in USA has been hijacked by perverts already. Holy Land is in Israel, not in America. I hope Liberals are taught geography right.
The original landing place, for Protestant whites? or natives? or Columbus?
There is no god in the US Cons ti tution.
Canada is far more secular as a society, but God is mentioned in the Canadian const.itution, and in their national anthem. Perhaps this suggests that if we plastered God up everywhere, like the fundies would like, then people would eventually lose interest, like in that Friends episode where Joey and Chandler lucked into free p0rn?
The most important place she can take her bus is off a cliff. The taller the better.
But who is paying for this trip????????????
That is a very good question, isn't it?
Good suggestions. Since this is not a political tour why are the media chasing after her. It is all well and good to see the historical places that mean so much to all Americans. How about looking at the small towns and neighborhoods that make up the backbone of the country. The historical place are fine but more importantly she should so how people really live. Donald Trump's residence included.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.