Sarah Palin's Theocratic End Times - UPDATED
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 03:36:48 PM EST
I have never believed that the evangelical views of George W. Bush ran deep -- at least as far as relating interpretations of the Book of Revelation to American foreign policy is concerned. And although those who do believe such things were and are a part of the domestic political coalition of the willing, there is no evidence that they were anywhere near running the show, let alone running it towards a cataclysmic outcome. Indeed, Bush's senior military and foreign policy team, whatever else one may think of them, never included anyone with such views.

But more evidence has emerged in one day about Sarah Palin's views in this regard than in the entire career of George W. Bush. That said, the idea that Palin might rise to the presidency not only fairly raises the question of the way that her understanding of the Book of Revelation informs her views on foreign policy, but what kinds of people she would choose to carry out her views as Commander in Chief and as the director of American foriegn policy.

Let's examine the revelations from stories in the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, as they will likely inform much of our converation about Palin the days and weeks to come.

Let's begin with Gene Johnson's Associated Press story -- which is based based on a video of Palin speaking at the Wasilla Assemblies of God church in June 2008 (it has been removed from the church's web site).  

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a "task that is from God."

In an address last June, the Republican vice presidential candidate also urged ministry students to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it "God's will."

Palin asked the students to pray for the troops in Iraq, and noted that her eldest son, Track, was expected to be deployed there.

"Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "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."

Palin told graduating students of the church's School of Ministry, "What I need to do is strike a deal with you guys." As they preached the love of Jesus throughout Alaska, she said, she'd work to implement God's will from the governor's office, including creating jobs by building a pipeline to bring North Slope natural gas to North American markets.

"God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said.

And the Wall Street Journal reports

At the Pentecostal church where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin worshipped for more than two decades, congregants speak in tongues and are part of a faith that believes humanity is in its "end times" -- the days preceding a world-ending cataclysm bringing Christian redemption and the second coming of Jesus.

The Rev. Ed Kalnins, pastor of the Pentecostal church, Wasilla Assembly of God, says he has told church members that God put President George W. Bush in office and that America is locked in a "holy war" with terrorists.

This is the church she has attended since junior high school and where she and her family attended until 2002 (that is also the year her husband left the Alaksan Independence Party, state affiliate of the theocratic Constitution Party.)

The Journal's Suzanne Sataline asked the important question about the implications of Palin's apparent belief that we are living in biblically prophesized end times and her views that the president is acting out "God's plan" in Iraq and that the proposed gas pipeline is "God's will" and got an answer that should raise further questions:

David Gushee, a Christian ethicist at Mercer University in Atlanta, says he is troubled that a public official might presume that government action could be God's intent. "I would never think it is appropriate to describe the actions of the United States military or the strategies of our commanders as a plan from God," Mr. Gushee says.

Mr. Gushee says Gov. Palin should explain her beliefs concerning the inevitability of a cataclysm and the end of time. "To me, it is highly relevant to someone who potentially has her hand on the nuclear button," he says. "If that is her worldview, I would want to know about that."  

The Wasilla Assembly of God and its parent denomination -- the three-million member General Council of the Assemblies of God -- espouse core beliefs not widely ascribed to by major Christian factions. Many members pray in undecipherable sounds or "tongues." The denomination's Web site says some scholars believe that the "end times" foreshadowing the end of the world was confirmed in 1948, with the founding of the state of Israel, marking the Jews' return to the Holy Land, fulfilling a Biblical prophecy. The Assemblies of God is part of a Pentecostal movement that numbers 80 million people world-wide.

The Bible, Mr. Kalnins said in an interview, foretells world events. "I don't think it's God's will to have a war," he says. But in Iraq, America is fighting an enemy that has made it a war over beliefs, he said. "I really think it is a holy war. It's a war of gods. ... When someone fights in the name of God, that becomes a holy war."

Mr. Kalnins is an enthusiastic supporter of "Governor Sarah," as he calls her, and of President George W. Bush, who, he believes, was put in office by the hand of the divine. "I believe criticisms come from hell. God has placed this man in authority. ... You criticize the authority, you're literally bringing in hell with the criticism."

We add to this, the extreme views presented in the churches Palin currently attends -- the Wasilla Bible Church and when the legislature is in session, the Juneau Christian Center, as Bruce Wilson has documented in videos, and we get a more complete picture of Palin's choices in religious community and their worldview. (The AP has a further story running that begins to frame the discussion in terms of how the McCain campaign has tried to downplay, arguably cover up, Palin's Pentecostal background.) The context of Palin's views matters, and help us to understand what Palin's videotaped views mean.

In any case, the question of Palin's views about the end times, and ways and extent to which these inform her thoughts on America's role in the world and how she would conduct herself in office is more than fair game. They are necessary and urgent questions.

In light of Palin's having been vetted, as Max Blumenthal reported by the religious right leaders of the Council for National Policy; Palin's views regarding creationismm; her 100% prolife views (meaning no exceptions for rape and inccest and opposition to stem cell research) her efforts as governor to roll back advances in LGTB civil rights in Alaska; her efforts to censor public library books in Wasilla while she was mayor; as well as he claims that the war in Iraq is "God's plan" and that the proposed gas pipeline is "God's will" suggest that Sarah Palin is by far the most theocratic candidate ever to make it onto a major party ticket.

Update [2008-9-4 17:9:48 by Frederick Clarkson]: After writing this, I learned of Phil Munger of Progressive Alaska's personal annecdotes regarding Palin's beliefs:

In June 1997, both Palin and I had responsibilities at the graduation ceremony of a small group of Wasilla area home schoolers. I directed the Mat-Su College Community Band, which played music, and she gave the commencement address. It was held at her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God.

Palin had recently become Wasilla mayor, beating her earliest mentor, John Stein, the then-incumbent mayor. A large part of her campaign had been to enlist fundamentalist Christian groups, and invoke evangelical buzzwords into her talks and literature.

As the ceremony concluded, I bumped into her in a hall away from other people. I congratulated her on her victory, and took her aside to ask about her faith. Among other things, she declared that she was a young earth creationist, accepting both that the world was about 6,000-plus years old, and that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time.

I asked how she felt about the second coming and the end times. She responded that she fully believed that the signs of Jesus returning soon "during MY lifetime," were obvious. "I can see that, maybe you can't - but it guides me every day."

Our next discussion about religion was after she had switched to the less strict Wasilla Bible Church. She was speaking at, I was performing bugle, at a Veterans ceremony between Wasilla and Palmer. At this time, people were beginning to encourage her to run for Governor.

Once again, we found ourselves being able to talk privately. I reminded her of the earlier conversation, asking her if her views had changed. She was no longer "necessarily" a young earth creationist, she told me. But she strongly reiterated her belief that "The Lord is coming soon." I was trying to get her to tell me what she felt the signs were, when she had to move on.

Appealing and effective, Sarah Palin is deadly. She stole Obama's thunder last Friday, replacing that day's post-speech news bump with the announcement of her candidacy. In contrast, her speech last night dominates much of today's news. Hidden more deeply from public view, however, are the religious beliefs that drive her. Her sarcasm with a smile is devastatingly effective. Not backing down, she goes in for the kill. It is the quality of an adroit cult member (clean, nice looking, wholesome appearance, smart, with an ambition focused by perceived marching orders from god) that scares me the most: smiling, Sarah could gut you with a knife while saying that you will be better off because you are going to go to heaven when she's done. Doing you a favor, she implements her belief in god's plan for man. From Palin's persepctive, as against God's Will, the gutee's position can only be meaningless, irrelevant. Even though Obama's pastor has been big game, the media is unlikely to give equal treatment to Palin by confronting her with her religious beliefs. To forego exploration of Palin's religious pedigree is inappropriate. It would deprive the public of vital information regarding her values and decision-making process. Without providing the accurate context for Sarah Palin's smilingly relentless aggression, it is easy to mistake her plucky demeanor and smooth presentation as that of a champion instead of the western jihadist she appears to be. Palin may be a soldier of god, but with the devil's agenda. If that's the case, as with all unbelievers, god's champion will make us chumps.

by fordgreene on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 07:26:06 PM EST
I hope that you're mistaken about the media questioning Ms. Palin's religious fanaticism. We've seen that many moderate Christian groups have already spoken out about this, and I doubt the talking heads would be able to just ignore this. We'll see.

by trog69 on Fri Sep 05, 2008 at 09:05:38 AM EST

It is already clear that the mainstream media has not ignored Palin's fanaticism. What I would like to see is a direct treatment of the implications of the belief that a chosen one can "rapture out" out of any hell that the consequences driven by a rapturee's earthly actions might wreak. If a rapturee gets to opt out of an horrible earthly scene, her motivations to preserve that scene would seem much less than those of those of us who remain. My hunch is that were Palin to be directly and persistently confronted with her beliefs (there are very few mainstream media persons who are willing and able to persistently confront anyone about anything), her sparkley presentation might start to crack a bit. It would be good to see what lies beneath that.

by fordgreene on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 02:29:23 PM EST
she has not been allowed to talk to the press at all...

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 03:27:48 PM EST
a rather startled obscenity!  So they are keeping people from asking her questions?  You only get to see what THEY want you to see???

Well, that fits right in with my (our?) experience of the groups that I call dominionist (I do tend to lump them together for a number of very good reasons- not the least that they tend to be VERY abusive).  It's also typical of politicians and top-level bureaucrats.

Then, it's up to us- all of us who fight dominionism- to get the message out.  Maybe in the meantime something will happen that will expose her to the world, in such a way that people would see the truth (that's my prayer!)

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Sep 07, 2008 at 02:59:49 PM EST

Not in questioning her viability as a VP or as a person but in her theocratic views and how they relate to whether she will support the Constitution/Bill of Rights she will be sworn in to protect. So far if you violate your oaths, nothing happens to you. Soon the Bill of Rights will be a banned and burned memory among those of us who even know of its contents. We are in a bad state as our republic does a slow fall to a dictatorship of the ecclesiastical & corporate. The fact that they can control the media they own (90%) means they control the message to most of the people. I am worried they will steal this election too and then where will we be? Impeachment? Not from the infiltrated Democrats. Just a few of them like Kucinich stand up to them but it isn't enough. I wonder what can be done in these dire times? Suggestions?

by Nightgaunt on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 05:11:12 PM EST

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