My father's Catholic faith is carrying him through the painful ordeal of dying of cancer. Recently I was driving him home from radiation treatment when all of sudden he changed the subject, his voiced cracked and he began describing how God helps him deal with his physical pain.
He went on to say the priest he watched on TV that morning described a good father as someone who sets a good example for his kids and prays for them. In that same broken voice, my 77-year-old father said to me, "I don't know if I set a good example for you, Danny, but I do know I have prayed for you."
The tears welling up in my eyes made it difficult to drive. It was a beautiful and real moment and one I will always remember.
Like my Dad, Sarah Palin has the kind of faith that is very personal to her. For Palin, her faith is not a part of her life, it is her life.
It's the kind of faith that spooks many liberals in the media.
It's the main reason I believe the media has launched an unprecedented all-out frenzied attack on her.
The media generally does not understand people of faith, but it is especially true with evangelicals like Palin.
Evangelical Christians approach their faith differently than most other religions on the American landscape. Evangelicals, like Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans and Methodists, believe in a living God. But evangelicals take their faith a step further.
Evangelicals believe you can have a personal relationship with God. Not just talk to him, but hear from him, either through inner thoughts, reading the Bible or, in extremely rare cases, with an audible voice.
They base their belief on a number of Bible verses including John 10:27, in which Jesus describes his followers this way: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
They also point to Matthew 7:21-23, in which the Bible says: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ... On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name ... and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me.' "
Evangelicals like Palin boil their salvation down to one simple thing: Do you have a personal relationship with God? Do you know him?
The idea of having a relationship with someone you can't physically touch or see confuses many liberals who consider themselves intellectual. They see the Palins of the world as crazy, extreme and even at times dangerous.
When Gov. Palin asked a Wasilla congregation to pray for a gas pipeline, the media freaked out. They really lost it when she suggested we pray that we do God's will while we are in Iraq.
Frankly, I can understand how some liberals would be confused by evangelicals or even a little leery of them. Maybe they fear an evangelical leader may do something crazy, believing it is God who told them to do it. That's a reasonable concern.
But what confuses me is why many -- not all, but many -- supposedly tolerant liberals have outright anger and at times hatred toward evangelicals. Most liberals' belief system revolves around humanism -- the thought we are all our own god and there are no absolutes.
To be fair, many evangelicals do look down at liberals because of their belief system. We all should practice more tolerance. Our belief systems are at the core of who we are.
Dealing with the prospects of cancer and the physical and emotional pain it brings is much more bearable for my dad because of his strong faith.
People should not look down on my dad because of his faith. The same is true for Sarah Palin.
Dan Fagan is a radio talk show host on KFQD, 750 AM. E-mail Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.