My Take: More places Palin should visit on bus tour
Sarah Palin leaving the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
June 2nd, 2011
07:55 AM ET

My Take: More places Palin should visit on bus tour

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.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Houses of worship • Mormonism • Politics • Sarah Palin • Uncategorized • United States

soundoff (294 Responses)
  1. abby

    Her first stop should be the psych ward because she's delusional if she thinks she's presidential material. But, probably she'll be stopping off at the bank instead after shearing all the sheep that follow her.....

    June 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • tar

      you a retard....

      June 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  2. JoeT

    She should try visiting the inner-cities.

    June 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Driving Miss Crazy

      And expose her children to people of color? She could never do that.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Mikey

      But those don't contain real Americans...heck according to Sarah neither do the suburbs.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  3. ted

    This just in. Sarah Palin had a Big Mac at McDonalds. CNN was there live to see the special sauce dripping down her chin – film at 11 or on facebook. Sarah told the manager at McDonalds that she was appalled that her face was disfigured by the sauce and ordered tea. The manager said they don't serve tea or tea baggers, but how about a soda. Sarah said that soda rots your teeth and showed her dentures as proof. – film at 11 or on facebook. Then sarah went crying into the ladies room to clean the special sauce off her special face so that her fans would see her get back on her special bus so she could go be special somewhere where no special sauce would get her. Oh the drama of being a special drama queen.

    June 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • larvadog

      I lol'd.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  4. Papasan

    When the Right Wing Loonies / Tea Baggers figure out that Palin has SUCKED all the cash out of the 2012 GOP donors they won't be in love with her any longer.

    June 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • james

      your an idioy

      June 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  5. whatsthat

    This bimbo needs to shut-up, get back on the bus and return to Alaska. It's like they say empty barrels make the most noise.

    June 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • abby

      she hasn't finished sucking every penny out of all of her sheep yet....

      June 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  6. Bob

    Have her come back to Madison, Wi We will give her the same "warm" reception she got last time! Mooo (or was that Booo!)

    June 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  7. john

    Bimbo...Please go away

    June 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  8. jzip

    By the way using PAC money for a family vacation is illegal!

    June 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Lawyer

      It isn't illegal until she declares her candidacy. So yes, she is going on a long family vacation in a huge bus that is being paid for by people poorer than herself. I think quitting her job (as governor) was the best financial decision she ever made.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  9. bill

    i hope sarah comes to plymouth she can walk in our 4th of july parade.

    June 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • sara

      with her "hood" on?

      June 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  10. EJ in Metro Houston

    I have an idea of where she can go (and NO that's not the place I was thinking, at least not this time) how about going to Joplin or Alabama and visiting those people and try to offer them some help if not just peace of mind? Sarah has enough bucks to do that. So far I don't think ANY of the so-called 2012ers have done that. She could be the first and if nothing else be a nice photo op for her.

    June 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Todd

      One candidate did go to Joplin: Obama

      June 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • abby

      why should she go to Joplin - it's not like she can ask for money from them.... they need their money for themselves - she's looking for more sheep - er, followers....

      June 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  11. jzip

    She is on a Vacation tour using PAC money pure and simple.

    June 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  12. KeeKeeDee


    "Dripping with sarcasm" comes to mind. You're making an awful lot of assumptions about Sarah Palin's beliefs and tolerance for people with differing views. Uh, I know it's easy to slam her, but what facts are you basing this on? Curiously, they were absent from your article.

    June 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • GDH

      See all of her stump speeches during the 2008 presidential race, her twitter archive, and basically all times that she has had a camera and microphone within 50 yards of her.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • KeeKeeDee

      GDH, my point is this: If Stephen is a serious journalist, he would never, never assume readers know what "facts" he's referring to. I'm not a SP supporter, but I also don't like the idea of knocking her with nothing to back it up. And, by the way, I have heard many speeches and have not once found her to be intolerant of anyone's beliefs or religion.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Frogist

      @KeeKeeDee: I understand what you're saying but to be honest Mr Prothero is actually being reserved in any criticism of her. I don't actually see where he's "knocking" her as you say. As GDH mentioned there is nothing in this piece that Palin has not herself endorsed. There's a tinge of snarkiness but certainly that's his prerogative, not to mention a very effective commentary tool. And it is an opinion piece. Mr Prothero is not a "serious journalist" as you put it, but rather a religious scholar and an opinion writer for CNN. And I think he's quite within his rights to engage in a bit of very mild sarcasm regarding Palin. I do not however see anything inaccurate in his commentary. And we must remember, Palin herself is not one who is unfamiliar with sarcastic comments going even so far as to be inflammatory in her rhetoric towards those she perceives as her opponents.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  13. arapikos

    Great input!!,but why waste your talent on Silly Sarah–her followers needs to know this more. With Palin, it's "Howdy Dowdy"time

    June 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  14. Madtown

    She could visit all these places in a very short period of time. She's staying at the other stops just long enough to get a photo-op and take a bathroom break, not really trying to "educate and energize Americans", as was the stated goal of this narcissistic exercise.

    June 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Slappy

      Narcissistic? Has there ever been a presidential candidate who wasn't? Don't kid yourself, she doesn't have that market cornered!

      June 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Madtown

      Narcissistic? Has there ever been a presidential candidate who wasn't? Don't kid yourself, she doesn't have that market cornered!
      Please, she takes that market to previously unexplored depths. And, she's still going.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  15. Wally Balloo

    Everybody says Sarah is stupid.

    Well, both she and I lost our jobs around the same time. I've filed for bankruptcy and am on the verge of losing my house despite working as hard as I can at part-time jobs, and she's making a ton of money working part-time doing nothing. So, she may be a dummy, but I guess she's smarter than I am!

    June 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Artist

      Just because a stri pper can convince men to throw their money at them doe snot mean they are smart. She is a talking head, all you get is head from her. Can't blame her for making a buck...people are stupid enough to throw their money at her to hear her head talk, more power to her.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • stejo

      No worries, Wally – the smartest people are rarely the wealthiest. Being able to exploit a situation for personal gain isn't smart, although it may sometimes be – more often, it's just selfish, imo. You're probably smarter than SP.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Freespirit

      Lost her job? She quit her job. Big difference.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • abby

      Wally, you're probably an honest man and not a grifter - that may be the real difference -

      June 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • StoopidIzAzStoopidDuz

      A) She did not lose her job, she walked away from it.
      B) I hardly call what she does "working."
      C) She got lucky that John McCain brought her along for the ride. Her "talent" or "intellect" (or lack there of on both counts) had Z-E-R-O to do with it.

      June 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  16. mario

    Dear Ms Paying Attention I truly enjoyed your comment thankyou for women like you

    June 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  17. lucy2

    I enjoyed this article, however you give her too much credit addressing her as "Governor". I'm pretty sure she's out having fun and raising money, while someone else is back in Alaska, doing the job she was hired to do and walked out on.

    When is someone going to point out to her that by being a member of Fox News, she now IS the lamestream media? And be sure when you read "lamestream media" you do in a slow-witted, whiny, perpetual victim voice in your head, to get it just right.

    June 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  18. Not having it

    Looks like the Irish Travelers found a new mode of transportation.

    June 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  19. derp

    If I have to listen to one more interview from that shrieking vajina Palin I am going to rip my own ears off.

    June 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Brandon

      Wouldn't you still be able to hear? That just sounds painful.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • guest123

      What makes you think you HAVE to listen to anything she says. In the future, if you find that you are listening to something you don't really want to hear, there is one person to blame. Just look in the mirror and you will find that person.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  20. Ms.PayingAttention

    I am a wihite woman, middle-aged, and a school teacher, from the "Bible Belt." I live on a cattle/horse ranch with my family – I can ride a horse and calve-out a cow with any man – better than many actually. We own/use lots of guns for various purposes: sport, hunting, livestock protection. In short, I AM about as "country" as they come. Sarah Palin DOES NOT, HAS NEVER, represented me. One of my lady friends thought of a good description for Sarah – she is a bimbo. BUT – this is to address JohnQuests post in which he says WE SHOULD NOT IGNORE SARAH PALIN! Don't forget, we were a few votes, and one bullet, away from having her as a PRESIDENT! Scares me to death! Unfortunately, all too often it is the people who SUPPORT the Palins of our democracy who GO VOTE! PAY ATTENTION out there! PLEASE!

    June 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Artist

      Don't worry, she creates hype then goes on tour to get paid to talk. She isn't the bsharpest tool in the shed buy sharp enough to get the drippy droolies in a frenzi.

      June 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Chuck

      You are an extemely wise woman.

      June 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • KeeKeeDee

      Settle down, Sweetheart. "Scares me to death!" Goodness. Get back to birthin' those calves...you'll be fine.

      June 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Daniel

      Really! Just because you can help a cow have a calf that makes you any more an expert on American Politics than anyone else. Maybe you should pay attention and learn or keep to birthing livestock!

      June 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Slappy

      She scares you, but a community-organizer, first term U.S. Senator (who beat a last-minute fill-in carpetbagger for that job) who'd been in the seat for 180 days didn't? You're happy trusting our country to someone who spent his whole life surrounded by leftists, avowed terrorists and America haters? Are you feeling pretty good about where we are today vs. two and a half years ago?

      June 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • abby

      the difference between you and Palin is beyond description but primarily the difference is you actually work for a living....

      June 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Frogist

      @MsPaying Attention: Thank you for speaking up! I agree that she makes honest, hard-working folks like you look bad by pretending to represent you. And I agree that if she ever gets on the ballot we need to do our duty and vote her out. But as I said before I don't think she will be in such a position as few of the presidential hopefuls (barring non-runner Trump) would be caught dead with her. However, I agree we must be vigilant about the possibility.
      BTW Much respect for how you describe your working life, woman. I can do none of those things but part of me does wish I could.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
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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.