Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sarah Palin and Christian Zionism: Is She or Isn't She?

Interesting new twist on Sarah Palin's fundamentalist church background.

From: www.christianzionism.org

* * *

Sarah Palin and Christian Zionism: Is She or Isn't She?

wpe9.jpg (8785 bytes)

One month before the presidential election, Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, has re-inserted the subject of Barak Obama's former membership in Jeremiah Wright's church into an already heated campaign. And this despite her running mate's disavowal of this tactic soon after Obama left the church. Many see this as an act of desperation in a campaign that has lost its bearings. Whatever the case what it does is lay open the need to offer a similar kind of critical scrutiny to Sarah Palin's radical church background.

Bruce Wilson, writing in the Huffington Post, suggests that Palin's church affiliation could be and should be an issue in this election, as the particular form of Pentecostalism practiced in the church which played the greatest role in shaping her spiritual life, the Wasilla Assembly of God, represents a radical form of fundamentalist Pentecostalism, so radical that it was repudiated by other Pentecostal churches back in the late '40s:

. . . the excesses of this movement were declared a heresy in 1949 by the General Council of the Assemblies of God, and again condemned through Resolution 16 in 2000. The beliefs and manifestations of the movement include the use of 'strategic level spiritual warfare' to expel territorial demons from American and world cities. Worship includes excessive charismatic manifestations such as hundreds of people falling, 'slain in the spirit,' and congregations laughing, jerking, and shrieking uncontrollably.

For our purposes the more important issue has to do with the fact that this church, as well as the church in which Palin currently worships, is steeped in the kind of dispensationalist theology that undergirds the more extreme forms of ideological Christian Zionism. Key to this theology is a belief in the divine origin of the Israeli state, and the imperative for Christians to offer it unconditional support.

One would assume from this that Sarah Palin is a card carrying member of the Christian Zionist movement. But just as it is valid to question the assumption that Barak Obama absorbed the more radical elements of his pastor's black liberation theology during his time as a member of his congregation, so it is valid to question how much governor Palin absorbed the ideology of her church with regard to its dispensationalist perspective on Israel/Palestine.

There is no doubt that she is a strong supporter of the Israeli state. There is no doubt that this support is grounded in her Christian beliefs. But all that I have read and observed about her suggests that she is less ideologically-driven than politically-driven, defined primarily, as the New York Time's, Frank Rich, put it in a recent op-ed piece, by a "hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition."

This explains what is otherwise inexplicable - the quickness with which she affirmed a two state solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine during the Vice Presidential debate, which an ideologically-driven Christian Zionist would never do. It is borne out, as well, by the fact that she has shown little inclination to wave the Israeli flag in her political career. Yes, she does have an Israeli flag in her office. But so do a lot of other Republican and Democratic politicians, Christian Zionist or not.

What Sarah Palin is mostly about is Sarah Palin. Pure naked ambition. Getting to the top no matter what it takes to get there. Given the fact that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, this is hardly a commendation. But it does throw into question claims that some are making that she and Hagee are in the same Christian Zionist camp.

Of course, we don't know who the real Sarah Palin is. She could be a raving Christian Zionist eager to light the Armaggeddon fuse. We don't know because at this point all we have is the Sarah Palin the Republican party wishes her to be, a persona crafted by her neo-con handlers for the sole purpose of winning an election. But all indications going back to her ascendency up the ladder of Alaskan politics, say that political ambition rather than Christian theology, is the greatest determinant of her positions. Whatever it takes to advance her political career is the real measure of her faith. That's not a reason to vote for her. But it is reason to hold off on attributing radical beliefs to her that may not define who she is at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Rev has a number of books, sermons on tape, etc. And yet those snippets are all they've got?

And then there's that whole thing where he's a decorated Marine and his church has history of feeding the poor and so forth...

What does Palin's church do beside, you know, wave snakes around or whatever?

Pet Supplies
Pet Supplies