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. Terry P

    Why can't she have a burning in her belly for the South Pole?

    June 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  2. Walley Wasala

    Wow, all this publicity and not one shot of Trig. Has anyone seen a picture of Trig? I bet he is the child that shares her IQ.
    Not once, has this momma bear been seen in public with her baby. What kind of mother is she, leaving her baby with a nanny 24/7. Who wants to bet she never fed the poor turnip a bottle?

    June 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  3. Ron

    I vote she takes a long ride off a short pier.

    June 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  4. Halibutt

    It's the tragical misery tour....

    June 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  5. Joe B.

    Seriously-who is paying for this vacation? Where is the money coming from certainty not Palin or the Republican party.

    June 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • donutman

      where've you been..Palin's loaded, from countless fools buying her ghostwritten diatribes, her tv shows as well as her public speaking tours which she charges an arm and a leg for

      June 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      we know she could pay herself, but we also know she lets others pay her way, like a responsible, self reliant, fiscal conservative should.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  6. PhilG.

    I really have to wonder oif Palin is getting money under the table from the Democratic party.

    Where is she getting all this money to be such a public figure?

    All of this only benefits the Democratics Presidential Campaign.

    I actually like Palin when she talks about the Alaskan wilderness,hunting,fishing and family stuff but she is NO NATIONAL POLITICIAN AND WILL NEVER HAVE THE SMARTS TO BE ONE.

    As I will never have the smarts to be either a wilderness person or national politician myself.

    Get back to what you know Sarah and stop letting these douchbags make a fool out of you.

    June 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  7. dave_in_altmar

    HEY! Keep Alaska Barbie far, FAR away from Central Massachusetts! We have better things to do that have that nitwit exploiting our resources for her "It's All About ME Tour!"


    June 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  8. brako

    sick and tired of this worthless wh0re. someone snipe her already

    June 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So we kill those who disagree or hold different views then ourselves..... what are you 12?

      June 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  9. Dan in FL

    Stop writing about Palin! Stop writing about Palin! Stop writing about Palin!

    Don't you get it? Every time you write about her, you give her free publicity. She uses this publicity to increase her "brand" awareness. Her brand awareness draws in more suckers who further enrich her. She's not running for President, she's trying to separate the gullible from their money! Stop writing about her, she's playing you!

    June 2, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  10. John

    Somebody needs to help Palin that her 15 minutes are over

    June 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  11. maxdenn

    Trump and Palin had dinner together the other day. Enough said.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  12. mr sims

    I agree with Kay. This writer wasted his time trying to be witty and didn't really succeed. I don't like the sarcastic tone.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • maxdenn


      June 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Stef

      He didn't try to be witty, he just tried to be sarcastic and succeeded. Fun article.

      June 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  13. maxdenn

    These Palin supporters are very out of touch. Or so it would seem. To quote an old cliche; therer is no there, there.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  14. maxdenn

    I refuse to call Mrs. Palin an idiot.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  15. maxdenn

    Does anyone know why Mrs. Palin quit her guv's job in Alaska?

    June 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Patrick

      Try google....you may of herd of it.

      June 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  16. brownstain

    If palin sticks her head out of the bus window as it's going down the road, she is apt to get arrested for mooning.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • John

      That's the best one yet. LOL

      June 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • :D

      LOL – That's a winning post, there.

      June 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  17. Henriette

    Suggested place to visit: Remedial English class.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  18. maxdenn

    I'd love to hear Bachmann and Palin debate.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  19. Kay

    This was really a dumb article. Instead of wasting all his time doing research to make this article so witty, he could have just written "I don't like Palin"

    June 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • maxdenn

      I don't like Palin.

      June 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Boss Scragg

      I don't like Palin as a candidate for any government job.

      June 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  20. frank

    I think Mrs Palin should shut her squawking beak, return to Mordor, and keep her unholy muppet face hidden from the sight of good Christian folk!!

    June 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Dictator-for-Life Jesus Benida Carrillo Vasquez Mariposa Moctezuma Goldstein

      Wouldn't it work better if those "good Christian folk" (all twenty-three of them) were to simply get rid of their TVs, radios, etc.?

      June 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Frogist

      @frank: Hey now... Leave the muppets out of this!

      June 3, 2011 at 2:36 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.