Sarah Palin’s Pastor Problem

John McCain - Sarah Palin

John McCain - Sarah Palin

Remember Barack Obama and his, um, controversial pastor? Looks like John “Mr. Anger Management” McCain’s running mate has an interesting one too — and apparently, she’s with Bush on the notion that God is behind anything the GOP wants to do.

Saw a most interesting piece on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her former pastor and current friend by Nico Pitney and Sam Stein at the Huffington Post. Do click the link to read the entire piece, but here is an excerpt:

A review of recorded sermons by Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God since 1999, offers a provocative and, for some, eyebrow-raising sketch of Palin’s longtime spiritual home.

The church runs a number of ministries providing help to poor neighborhoods, care for children in need, and general community services. But Pastor Kalnins has also preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war “contending for your faith;” and said that Jesus “operated from that position of war mode.”

It is impossible to determine how much Wasilla Assembly of God has shaped Palin’s thinking. She was baptized there at the age of 12 and attended the church for most of her adult life. When Palin was inaugurated as governor, the founding pastor of the church delivered the invocation. In 2002, Palin moved her family to a nondenominational church, but she continues to worship at a related Assembly of God church in Juneau.

Moreover, she “has maintained a friendship with Wasilla Assembly of God and has attended various conferences and special meetings here,” Kalnins’ office said in a statement. “As for her personal beliefs,” the statement added, “Governor Palin is well able to speak for herself on those issues.”

Clearly, however, Palin views the church as the source of an important, if sometimes politically explosive, message. “Having grown up here, and having little kids grow up here also, this is such a special, special place,” she told the congregation in June. “What comes from this church I think has great destiny.”

… If the church had a political alignment, it would almost surely be conservative. In his sermons, Kalnins did not hide his affections for certain national politicians.

During the 2004 election season, he praised President Bush’s performance during a debate with Sen. John Kerry, then offered a not-so-subtle message about his personal candidate preferences. “I’m not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person, I question your salvation. I’m sorry.” Kalnins added: “If every Christian will vote righteously, it would be a landslide every time.”


On June 8, 2008, Palin spoke at her former church with Kalnins at her side. Pitney and Stein’s HuffPost piece continues:

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. In turn, her remarks raise important questions: mainly, what is Palin’s faith and how exactly has it influenced her policies?

The authors answer their own question by pointing to statements Palin has made in a number of speeches, for instance calling the Iraq debacle God’s quest and saying that the Creator wants oil pipelines in her home state of Alaska.

Um, many of us doubt both of those things, but if she believes them and ends up in power, I pray for the US.

Now, the right-wing evangelical Christian cred of gun-totin’, mooseburger-eatin’, and possibly corrupt pol Sarah Palin is as well established as the fact that the abstinence-only sex education she supports leads to unintended teenage pregnancies.  What’s less established is whether the media, which has proven itself willing to bend over backward so as not to offend a “war hero” possibly suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (see the story of journalism embarrassment Katie Couric and the edited McCain video interview), will give this story the ridiculous amount of attention it gave to Democrat Obama and his former pastor.

Sad to say, I have my doubts — America and its mainstream media are not known for fairness — but time will tell.

Speaking of the most current Palin to-do, I don’t think having an unwed pregnant teen daughter disqualifies anyone for political office. It shouldn’t. Neither should that fact be used as a political football. Plenty of loving, attentive parents have teen kids who make reckless decisions even though they have been counseled and given the facts on the dangers of having babies too young. There are many justified reasons that show why Palin would be a nightmare as vice-president, so there is no reason to follow John McCain along the low road he has chosen to travel during this divisive and ugly campaign. But if Palin is throwing around the fact that her elder son is going to Iraq as one of Bush’s killing squad, she can’t complain if people talk about one of her other children. ‘Twas Sarah Palin who made her kids an issue by trotting them out for a photo op, even taking the step to cover up young Bristol’s baby bump with her four-month-old brother and his blankie.

Never thought I would quote the likes of Hillary Clinton (talk about dodging a bullet), but here goes: No way. No how. No McCain/Palin.


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