At Palin Church, Jews For Jesus Head Says Terrorism vs Israel Is God's Punishment
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 07:40:46 PM EST
Do terrorist attacks on Israel, as recently preached in Sarah Palin's current church, amount to divine judgment
on Jews for refusing to accept Jesus as "Lord and savior" ? Does Palin concur with Jews For Jesus head David Brickner in this belief ? Does she think Jews carry some collective spiritual taint ? Or, does Sarah Palin agree with Wasilla Bible Church head pastor Larry Kroon - that God will punish America for rampant immorality ?
There are many types of empirical explanations to account for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the best of these acknowledge both Israeli and Palestinian culpability. But David Brickner's explanation for Palestinian terrorist attacks-the explanation that was aired August 17, 2008 at the Wasilla Bible Church, with John McCain's GOP Vice-Presidential pick Sara Palin possibly in attendance (one report claims so) -showed no attempt at reason or logic: rather, it was theological or, if you will, magical.

Brickner's explanation can be see at patently offensive - the idea that men, women and children might be blasted, shredded and burned to bloody, charred fragments for a theological decision allegedly made by their distant ancestors seems to fly in the face of Enlightenment values and the America ethic that we all enter life with a clean slate, that we can make of ourselves what we will and even reinvent our lives. And Brickner's "divine suicide bomber" theory smacks of John Hagee's proposed "God sent Hitler"/"Hunter" religious schema in which God is a real estate agent who re-lines Jews to Israel via anti-Semitism, persecution, pogroms and Holocausts.  

Jews, suggested Brickner, are intractably rebellious and hence cursed, and the potential that this revelation will rub salt on bruised Jewish-American feelings or accentuate Jewish wariness of John McCain and GOP, Christian Zionism or the American Christian right at large (fairly or not), is greater for the fact that, in his sermon, Brickner talks at length about the efforts of Jews For Jesus to push its form of Christian fundamentalism within Israel. Christian proselytizing in Israel is, to put it mildly, a bit controversial.  

There are some questions that one hopes will be resolved about the incident - was Alaska Governor Palin in attendance at the Wasilla Bible Church* while the current head of Jews For Jesus, David Brickner, asserted that the gruesome deaths, maiming and disfigurement of Israelis caught in Palestinian suicide bombing attacks should rightly be blamed on those victims themselves because of a collective Jewish refusal to accept Jesus en-masse, as a collective people ?

Pastor Larry Kroon's introduction to David Brickner's sermon may raise some eyebrows for Kroon's declaration that it was an encounter with Jews For Jesus, back in the 1970's, that first drew Kroon to Christianity. Kroon's views, then, would seem quite entrenched. Did Sarah Palin fail to notice ? Or does she too feel that Jewish heritage carries an ancestral curse ?

Such revelations, on the form of fundamentalist Christianity espoused at a church Rachel Palin has attended for between one two years, will probably go on for quite some time given that Palin has attended two other churches in Wasilla and another in Juneau, Alaska: thus far, neither mainstream media or bloggers have plumbed or mapped the theological views held at the four Alaska churches that Rachel Palin has attended (Wasilla Assemblies of God, The Juneau Christian Center, Church on The Rock and The Wasilla Bible Church).

One of Palin's former churches in particular arguably deserves far more scrutiny than her current church or the other - Palin was re-baptised, at twelve, at Wasilla Assemblies of God and attended that church far longer, for at least 2 and 1/2 decades, than she attended the other three collectively. Early Wednesday morning the web page housing the archive of Wasilla Assemblies of God sermons vanished, to be replaced by a static web page explaining that server overload caused the outage and that might be true but, if so, the Wasilla Assemblies of God, which maintains an extremely modern and technically highly sophisticated website with a good deal of other high-bandwidth "rich media", seems in no rush to restore access to the church sermon archive, with both video and audio sermons, and this suggests possible concern, either from the McCain campaign, the Wasilla church, or both, on possible media scrutiny.    

The McCain campaign seems oddly unable to avoid such "religion catastrophes": In May 2008 I created a 3:40 video, with an audio clip from a late 2005 John Hagee sermon (most media mis-sreported the sermon date as being in the "late 1990's because that's the date I gave in my video - but I was wrong) in which Texas megachurch pastor Hagee stated that Hitler and the Nazis were sent by God, to chase Europe's Jews towards Palestine - because, claimed Hagee, God's "top priority is to get the Jewish people to come BACK the the land of Israel". Hagee said, "God sent a hunter... Hitler was a hunter." About 48 hours after my video migrated from a Huffington post story to the Colbert Report John McCain renounced Hagee's political endorsement...

Now, we find similar views aired in a church Sarah Palin attends, and the theological claim put forth by David Brickner in his sermon The Jerusalem Dilemma, is really very similar to Hagee's though less shocking, perhaps, because Brickner did not mention Hitler or claim Hitler worked for God.

Nonetheless, Brickner suggested that "The Jews" are collectively being punished, as part of a generational curse carried for several millennia, for rejecting Jesus. Further, if "The Jews" are cursed then Jewishness would seem to, in Brickner's view, amount to a spiritual taint. But what of children of Jewish-gentile couples, "half Jews" ? Would they inherit 1/2 of the curse ? Or what about people with 1 Jewish grandparent, "1/4 Jews" - would they inherit a 25% curse ?

Hitler and the Nazis defined Jews as having 3 out of four Jewish grandparents, while having 1-2 Jewish grandparents conferred "mixed: status but under the September 15, 1935 "Reich Citizenship Law" even German's with one Jewish grandparent were stripped of basic rights of citizenship. Further, "Jewishness" was determined on the basis of meticulously kept German church baptismal records going back centuries. The one document all Germans had to keep on their persons at all times during the years of the 3rd Reich was a statement, from their Pastors, attesting to their racial heritage on the basis of those church records.

Once again, Senator John McCain has blundered into anti-Jewish views held by parts of the American Christian right (which is on the whole is far from uniformly anti-Jewish) and chosen to associate himself with a governor whose latest church maintains that Jews are collectively cursed (and blown to bits by divine assassins too) for being stubborn. This does not mean, of course, that McCain holds such views but it does bring his judgment into question, and there's plenty to the rolling scandal of the Palin VP pick which does not concern the behavior of Palin's children.

Anti-Jewish views are nothing new in America of course. Millions of American fundamentalists probably hold views similar to that espoused by David Brickner, who spoke at the express invitation of Wasilla Bible Church head pastor Larry Kroon. Indeed, former McCain endorser (and McCain endorsee) pastor John Hagee's holds similar views, that Jews collectively carry a theological or spiritual taint, and his beliefs get broadcast literally around the world.

John Hagee's late 2005 "God Sent Hitler" sermon went out on broadcast networks reaching into tens of millions of households, and his estimated reach in 2008 is almost a hundred million households, which is to say that the August 17, 2008 sermon at Wasilla Bible Church, accessible as a podcast from the church's website but not actively broadcast (except via sound waves), so by comparison to Pastor John Hagee's thermonuclear strength anti-Jewish bellowing, David Brickner's sermon was a mere whisper except for the fact that the governor of Alaska (and a heartbeat from the US Presidency should John McCain win the 2008 election) may have been present.

Pastor Larry Kroon does not condemn Jews exclusively, and in a June 22, 2008 sermon entitled "The Avenging Wrath of the Lord" Kroon warned, his voice dropping to a sinister whisper, that God would punish America for what Kroon alleged was rising immorality.

Such allegations, of growing American immorality are a constant refrain on the American Christian right but they tend to, at least in recent years, fly in the face of fact. What's "immorality" ? For at least a decade and a half, US national rates of murder, violent crime, divorce, teen pregnancy and rape dropped steadily, from the late 1980's/early 1990's up through the middle of our current decade. Now, with the sinking economy, crime may rise ( economic hardship tends to fuel some types of crime ) but depictions of America as some sort of "moral cesspool" seem quite overblown and the salient question is does Sarah Palin think America is in a moral free-fall and immanently due for divine wrath, divine punishment ?

"God Damn America!", declared Barack Obama's ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright but Obama doesn't seem inclined toward such sentiments. We have to ask, though - does Sarah Palin ? The possibility of America governed by a US president (if McCain wins the 2008 election and then dies in office) who thinks God will soon smite America, collectively, or who thinks Palestinian-Israeli strife is due to a failure, by Israeli Jews, to embrace Christianity, seems a grim prospect. Will the mainstream media take notice ? Will Christian conservative and GOP spokespeople decry the Brickner sermon ? I'm not sanguine about those possibilities but it's likely the American Jewish and Israeli community will begin to, and that would be a start.    

But to them, it's all in a good cause-Jesus is coming. They also have the attraction to death and destruction that can be found among those who have never had to face it in person, or encounter it in wounded veterans. For them, it has all the reality of a horror or action film, or a video game.

They also don't pay very close attention to the actual words of Jesus, particularly about the care to be given to the poor. These folks better take care that they don't help the process along, or that they don't invite the very destruction they want. Sometimes imprecatory prayer has an ability to rebound on the one doing the praying. It reminds me of the line from Hosea 8:7- "For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: he hath no standing grain; the blade shall yield no meal; if so be it yield, strangers shall swallow it up."

by khughes1963 on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 10:49:42 PM EST

You have posted a brief YouTube snippet of a 40-minute message from David Brickner, and you have selectively quoted him, so that your readers are not hearing his remarks in context. Here is a direct quote from David Brickner regarding his remarks at Sarah Palin's church: "The comments attributed to me were taken out of context. The notion that the terrorist, bulldozer attack in Jerusalem this summer was God's judgment on Israel for not believing in Jesus, is absolutely not what I believe. In retrospect, I can see how my rhetoric might be misunderstood and I truly regret that. Of course I never expected the kind of magnifying glass scrutiny on a message where I was speaking extemporaneously. Let me be clear. I don't believe that any one event whether a terrorist attack or a natural disaster is a specific fulfillment of or manifestation of a Biblical prediction of judgment. I don't believe that the newspaper should be used to interpret the Bible. The Bible interprets the Bible. I love my Jewish people and the land of Israel. I stand with and support her against all efforts to harm her or her people in any way. Please feel free to read my further explanations on the front page of our website, both in my article and in the interviews I did with Christianity Today and NBC." The website is

by msieger on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:23:11 PM EST

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