At Church with Palin

Various reporters and bloggers have been delving into Sarah Palin’s religious affiliations and backgrounds. From Harper’s:

Since becoming governor in 2006, Palin has attended the Juneau Christian Center, where Mike Rose serves as senior pastor. Her previous pastor was David Pepper of the Church on the Rock in Palin’s hometown of Wasilla — a church that “was kind of a foundation for her.”

Harper’s notes that Rose is a Creationist who believes that evolutionary biologists are of the opinion that humans are descended from chimpanzees, and that “these are the last days”. He also has links with CUFI. Pepper, meanwhile, rails against the ACLU and warns that “Judgement Day is coming”. However, finding a few quotes along these lines in a conservative evangelical church is hardly a shocking revelation, and such themes do not appear to be major obsessions of the two pastors.

And in any case, John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter is rightly cautious about identifying Palin too closely with particular churches:

Palin was briefly touted as the first Pentecostal to run on a major party ticket. A spokesperson, however, told the Associated Press yesterday that although the 44-year-old mother of five grew up in the Assemblies of God, the largest organized Pentecostal denomination in the world with an estimated 57 million members, she does not consider herself a “Pentecostal.”… Palin appears to be part of that rapidly expanding galaxy of “post-denominational” Christianity, where elements of Evangelical and Pentecostal styles of faith and worship fuse into a myriad of unique local combinations, and where old denominational loyalties are essentially dead.

Meanwhile, there’s a very good round-up resources concerning Palin’s religious and church-state views at Religion Clause. Possible past links to Pat Buchanan are also coming under scrutiny. And for a round-up of religious right enthusiasm for Palin, see this piece by Frederick Clarkson.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post notes Palin’s past links with Wasilla Assembly of God. In 2004 the pastor there, Ed Kalnins, warned congregants against voting for John Kerry with the threat of damnation, and in 2005 he said that hell awaited those who criticised George Bush’s response to the Katrina crisis, since criticising the President is like criticising a pastor. He also holds the belief that in the “Last Days” Alaska will become a refuge for “hundreds of thousands” of people. Kalnins also saw Palin’s election as governor in supernatural context:

As for his former congregant and current vice presidential candidate, Kalnins has asserted that Palin’s election as governor was the result of a “prophetic call” by another pastor at the church who prayed for her victory. “[He made] a prophetic declaration and then unfolds the kingdom of God, you know.”

Even Palin expressed surprise at that pastor’s advocacy for her candidacy. “He was praying over me,” she said in June. “He’s praying, ‘Lord make a way, Lord make a way…’ And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m gonna do, he doesn’t know what my plans are, and he’s praying not, ‘Oh Lord, if it be your will may she become governor,’ or whatever. No, he just prayed for it. He said, ‘Lord, make a way, and let her do this next step.’ And that’s exactly what happened. So, again, very very powerful coming from this church.”

Kalnin’s sermons have now been removed from the church’s website, and there is instead a notice:

…We do know that Gov Palin is a woman of integrity.  She is a servant of the people, she is a strong leader.  As for her personal beliefs, Governor Palin is well able to speak for herself on those issues.

As Alaskans we are excited about our Governor being selected as the nominee for Vice President.  As residents of Wasilla, we are ecstatic about one of our own being thrust to the national forefront.  However, as a church, it is not appropriate for us to endorse any one candidate over another.  As believers, we are reminded in 2 Peter 2.13 that we are to submit to those in authority.  1 Timothy 2.1-2 tells us pray for those in authority.  This we will do no matter who is elected.  We wish the best to Governor Palin, and Senator McCain, as well as to Senator Obama and Senator Biden.