Blog Post

Press Using Governor Palin’s Faith Against Her

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer In an effort to present Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin’s religious affiliations in the same extreme light as those of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), the press is trying to create a “Jeremiah Wright-style” scandal out of Governor Palin’s evangelical roots. The pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God Church in Wasilla, Alaska, where Governor Palin was a member until 2002, Senior Pastor Ed Kalnin was recently quoted in the media as having suggested during the 2004 presidential campaign that anyone who votes for John Kerry is going to hell. “I’m not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person [Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry], I question your salvation. I’m sorry,” Pastor Kalni is quoted as saying. Reporters have interpreted this statement as meaning that anyone who voted for Senator Kerry may not get to heaven. However, evangelicals say this is an incorrect interpretation. Pastor Kalnin was not saying God would send people to hell for voting for Senator Kerry, but was instead questioning whether a person willing to vote for someone with Kerry’s convictions was “saved” in the first place. “Evangelical theology teaches that a person is saved based not on how he votes, or any other action, but on whether he places his trust in Jesus’s sacrifice to pay the price for his sins. Trust Christ today and you’re “saved” today,” explains Brian Fitzpatrick of the Culture and Media Institute, a media watchdog organization. “Therefore, salvation is not so much a future event as a present possession. Once people are 'saved,' however, they undergo a spiritual transformation that affects the way they think, behave, and vote.” According to Fitzpatrick, members of the Wasilla Assemby of God church say they have been so deluged with inquiries from reporters that their server was unable to handle the traffic. When some of the website’s material was subsequently found missing, an ABC News Senior Correspondent accused the church of removing Kalnin’s sermons in order to avoid scrutiny. Governor Palin, who now attends an independent evangelical, has also come under attack for statements she made during a June 8 commencement address she gave at her former church in Wasilla. Quoting Ephesians 1:17, she read: “’That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.’" She went on to say: "And that spirit of revelation -- also including that spirit of prophecy -- that God’s going to tell you what is going on and what is going to go on. And you guys are going to have that within you and it’s just going to bubble up and bubble over, and it’s going to pour out throughout the state of Alaska.  Again, good, good things in store for the state of Alaska. Let us pray for God’s will to be done here [and] for all of your destinies to be met in this state.”   The Governor then told her former congregation that she was “praying for an outpouring of God’s Spirit, that revival” in Alaska. Reporters at the Huffington Post criticized the Governor for asking the students to pray about foreign policy issues and Alaska’s efforts to build a gas pipeline. “Palin’s address, much of which was spent reflecting on the work of the church in which she grew up and was baptized, underscores the notion that her world view is deeply impacted by religion,” wrote Huffington Post reporters Nico Pitney and Sam Stein. “In turn, her remarks raise important questions: mainly, what is Palin’s faith and how excactly has it influenced her policies?” The press has also attempted to use Governor Palin’s Christian beliefs against her by misrepresenting her position on the teaching of creationism in the state’s public schools. She was accused of opposing the teaching of evolution and wanting to mandate the teaching of creationism in state schools. Governor Palin actually said the exact opposite during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign when she promised not to push the state Board of Education to add creation-based alternatives to the state’s curriculum, a promise which she was kept. However, she has spoken in favor classroom discussions of creationism, in some cases. “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum,” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in a 2006 interview. Unbiased media watchdogs aren’t questioning how far the press will go to discredit the Alaskan governor. “Will the media give Wasilla Assembly of God, its pastor and its most famous former member the benefit of the doubt, or will they try to create a scandal over Sarah Palin’s religious beliefs?” writes Fitzpatrick. “Bet on the scandal.”   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.