Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So What does She Believe??

It's now clear that the Republican spin machine is working overtime to distance Governor Palin from the more radical elements of her Pentecostal background. She grew up in the Pentecostal church, they say, but doesn't accept everything they teach. She is Christian, but only generically so. Interesting spin given the way the Republicans screamed about Obama's ties to a different kind of radical Christianity. One can only wonder at this point whether Palin's radical Christian roots will be subjected to the same scrutiny, with every sermon she has ever heard at her Pentecostal church being parsed for incongruities with the American dream.

CNN, albeit with their usual attempts at balance, has begun the inquisition. Here are a few tidbits from a piece that appeared today about Palin's religious convictions and how they shape her policies. Stay tuned for more . . .

PS. Be sure to visit www.christianzionism.org for a wealth of information about a movement which defines the approach most Pentecostals take to Israel and Palestine. It is also the approach that would be taken by the Bible church Palin now attends.

from CNN:

Pastor: GOP may be downplaying Palin's religious beliefs

For more than two decades, Sarah Palin was a practicing Pentecostal.

She belonged to the Wasilla Assembly of God church in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. But though she attended the church from her teenage years to 2002, the Alaska governor hasn't talked much about her religion since joining the Republican ticket. . . .

Some Pentecostals from Assembly of God also believe in "faith healing" and the "end times" -- a violent upheaval that they believe will deliver Jesus Christ's second coming.

"Our basic belief is that God is God and he knows where history is going and he has a purposeful plan and within the middle of that plan we live in an environment in our world where certain events would take place," says McGraw. "Sarah wasn't taught to look for one particular sign -- a cataclysmic sign. She knew as every Christian does ... that God is sovereign and he is in control." . . .

When asked by CNN about Palin's beliefs, campaign spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton would only say the Republican vice presidential candidate has "deep religious convictions." Video Watch how Palin's religious roots formed » . . .

Palin's former pastor says he has no doubt her religious beliefs will influence her decision making when it comes to government policy. Regarding her desire to build an Alaskan pipeline and explore for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, McGraw told CNN, "Sarah knows that in Genesis, God creates the world and it's very good and that we're supposed to be caretakers in terms of not destroying the environment, so there's no way that Sarah is going to exploit or damage the Alaska tundra in the name of getting gas if she doesn't have to." Palin's neighbors react to her swift rise

Six years ago, Palin left Assembly of God to join the non-denominational Wasilla Bible Church. But the Assembly of God says she still returns for special conferences and events, such as the graduation of ministry students in June. Video of a speech she gave at the church just two months before joining the Republican ticket is making the rounds on the Internet.

Speaking of the troops in Iraq, Palin says on the video, "Pray for our military men and women who are striving do to what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for -- that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan." Video Watch Palin speak at her former church » . . .

McGraw, who was her pastor until 1998 and while she was mayor of Wasilla, says that Palin attended discipleship classes to strengthen her Pentecostal faith and that he counseled her on how to become a better leader.

"Everyone has a way of viewing the world and Sarah does too and hers would be shaped by the common-sense practicality of how she's been shaped by the Bible -- which is basically the world view that says God loves people, people can access him and he's given us wisdom for living," McGraw says.

He says Alaska has seen Palin's faith play out. As governor she passed ethics reform and took on what she's referred to as a "good-ol'-boys network." However, she has said she would not seek to impose her religious views on others. iReport.com: Share your thoughts on Sarah Palin

"I think one of the most obvious ways it plays out is what you've seen -- is being courageous enough to deal with deception and corruption," McGraw says.

Palin now attends the Wasilla Bible Church. She was there on August 17, just days before entering the national spotlight. David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was a speaker. He told congregants that terrorist attacks on Israel were God's "judgment" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity. Brickner said, "Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. When a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment -- you can't miss it."

The McCain campaign says Brickner's comments do not reflect her religious views. Palin's spokeswoman says she is pro-Israel. . .

Pastor Ed Kalnin, the senior pastor of Palin's former Pentecostal church, has also come under fire for his comments. In 2004, he told church members if they voted for John Kerry for president, they wouldn't get into heaven. He told them, "I question your salvation."

The Assembly of God issued a statement online in response, which said Kalnin was "joking" when he suggested "Kerry supporters would go to hell." The statement went on to say: "We do acknowledge in hindsight that it was careless, and we do apologize for that. This statement is not written as a defense, but as a clarification."

Read the full article here.

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