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October 13, 2008
Sarah Palin’s Religious
Ties Now Up for Discussion
Sarah Palin really
should not have waded into this debate.
vice-presidential candidate has resurrected talk about Democratic
presidential candidate Barack Obama and his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah
A. Wright, Jr.
“I don’t know why that
association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things
that that pastor had said about our country,” Palin told New York
Times columnist William Kristol.
What’s sauce for the
gander applies to the goose, too. Palin and her religious associations
are now fair game. Some of Palin’s religious affiliations are
The official web site
of Republican presidential candidate John McCain makes absolutely no
mention of his running mate’s religion in her biography, which mostly
discusses Palin’s political history but also mentions her family to the
extent of pointing out that her husband, Todd, has a Native Alaskan
grandmother. This is an astonishing omission from the political party of
“faith-based initiatives” that has courted and bowed to religious
conservatives for decades.
According to Wikipedia,
Palin was born a Catholic, but early in her childhood her family joined
the Wasilla Assembly of God, which is part of the Assemblies of God, an
international association of Pentecostal churches. The AOG endorses
Christian Zionism, the belief that Jesus can return to Earth only when
Israel takes complete control of all the lands around Jerusalem and
Palin remained a member
of this church until 2002, a date that coincides with her first foray
into statewide politics, an unsuccessful run for the post of Alaska
lieutenant governor. She now attends the Wasilla Bible Church, an
independent religious organization.
A statement from the
McCain camp shortly after Palin became the vice-presidential nominee
maintains that she no longer considers herself Pentecostal and describes
her as a “Bible-believing Christian.”
Whose Bible, Governor?
The Bible of Ed Kalnins, head pastor of the Wasilla Assembly of God? The
Bible of Kenyan Bishop Thomas Muthee?
According to Bruce
Wilson of Talk2Action, this year Palin has been blessed, in rituals held
at public events, on at least five different occasions, by current or
former Wasilla Assembly of God pastors. Last month, in a videotaped
statement, Kalnins said Palin not only maintains friendship with her
former church but also has attended, since she officially left, "various
conferences and special meetings" at the church.
One of these events was
in June, when Palin spoke at the Wasilla Assembly of God at the
graduation ceremony for a class of Kalnins’ Masters Commission. This is
a school Kalnins runs to prepare believers for “end times,” a radical
interpretation of New Testament verses in which the purest of Christians
are Raptured (assumed alive) into Heaven. The remaining sinners endure
the Tribulation of living in a world ruled by the Antichrist. This
sinful world is utterly destroyed in Armageddon, after which Jesus
returns to rule.
The Wasilla Assembly of
God provides support to the ministry of Muthee, a self-proclaimed
witch-hunter and, according to Wilson, a top leader of the New Apostolic
Reformation (NAR). Founded by C. Peter and Doris Wagner, the NAR is an
international Protestant religious movement openly hostile to any other
form of Christianity, such as Catholicism, and other faiths as well,
asserting that all of them are invalid and even under demonic influence.
Once again, at the
Wasilla Assembly of God, Muthee prayed over Palin in October 2005, at
the start of her gubernatorial campaign, calling on God to protect the
candidate from "spirits of witchcraft." Before blessing Palin, Muthee
urged Christians to "infiltrate" key areas of society, including
business and finance, government and politics, education and schools and
interesting in the light of another speech Muthee gave in March 2004, at
Kingsgate Community Church in the United Kingdom.
"The violent take it by
force,” he said. “People that have spiritual backbones are the ones that
are going to advance. They are the ones that will move forward . . . I
thank God for what I see happening in this place. I thank God for the
vision, the passion that I can see here. And my word is this: the more
violent you become, the more committed you become, the quicker you will
see things happen in this region."
Muthee was talking about "spiritual violence," but his in speech the
next year at the Wasilla Assembly of God, just before he blessed Palin
as a political leader, Muthee called on Christians to take control not
of the "spiritual kingdom" but the "earthly kingdom.”
Does Palin believe in
end times like Kalnins and other AOG members? If so, it could impact her
entire thinking about American policy toward Israel and the Middle East.
“It’s fair to ask Palin some questions about her beliefs,” says Chip
Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville,
Does Palin endorse the NAR’s dismissal of all other religions? Does she
back Muthee's call for Christians to use deceit, and perhaps violence,
to attain control in major areas of society? If yes, this could affect
her stance on a wide range of social policies if she becomes vice
Palin and the entire
McCain campaign are tight-lipped about her religious affiliations and
views. No one responded to a phone call and two follow-up e-mails
putting these and additional questions to the governor.
In addition to watching
late-night comics parody Palin, voters should think about these
questions before filling out their ballots on Nov. 4.
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