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August 30, 2008

Is Palin an evangelical?

John McCain's vice presidential pick Sarah Palin has a Pentecostal background, but reporters seem to be struggling to define her faith.

A profile in the Wall Street Journal says she's Lutheran.

The Washington Post writes, "Her evangelical Christian faith -- she believes in creationism and is adamantly opposed to abortion -- may help [McCain] court skeptical social conservatives."


Hm. I'm not sure those two beliefs necessarily link to an "evangelical Christian faith."

Instead of assigning a label to her faith, Eric Gorski of the Associated Press reports that a business administrator in Pentecostal Assemblies of God told him that her home church is The Church on the Rock, an independent congregation. A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign told Gorski that Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal.

Tennessean religion reporter Bob Smietana writes that Palin grew up among evangelicals, and attended the Wasilla Assembly of God as a teenager and young adult. Smietana writes that while in Juneau, Alaska's capital, she sometimes attends Juneau Christian Center, an Assemblies of God congregation.

Boston College professor Alan Wolfe writes at The New Republic that Palin is an evangelical, shaped by the region in which she lives.

"... she is not a Southern evangelical, and therein lies a tale."
Southern Baptists, he writes, became preoccupied with sin, while those in the west were more libertarian where sins could become forgiven.

He writes, "Sarah Palin named two of her children after witches, once took drugs, and refused to sign a bill forbidding domestic benefits for gay couples. Any one of these--especially the first--would raise suspicion in the eyes of a traditional Southern Baptist."

With Richard Land's high praise, however, I'm not seeing that suspicion quite yet.

"Palin, the gun-toting mom, has a libertarian streak in politics and a libertarian streak in religion," Wolfe writes. " ... [W]hile Palin may be quickly endorsed by men speaking in Southern accents, she is neither a Billy Graham nor a Jimmy Carter. American evangelicalism, like John McCain, has many mansions. Sarah Palin inhabits only one of them."

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life broadly describes Palin as Protestant. Although it's clear that some evangelicals are excited about her, I wonder whether she calls herself an evangelical.


Fred Barnes wrote last summer in the Weekly Standard how Palin's faith impacts her politics.

"Her Christian faith--Palin grew up attending nondenominational Bible churches--was a minor issue in the race," Barnes wrote. "She told me her faith affects her politics this way: 'I believe everything happens for a purpose. In my own personal life, if I dedicated back to my Creator what I'm trying to create for the good . . . everything will turn out fine.' That same concept applies to her political career, she suggested."

Jay Newton-Small at Time Magazine asked Palin some religion questions two weeks ago.

What's your religion?

Any particular...?
No. Bible-believing Christian.

What church do you attend?
A non-denominational Bible church. I was baptized Catholic as a newborn and then my family started going to non-denominational churches throughout our life.

As a side note and not religion related, someone asked me if I feel a kindred spirit with Sarah Palin because our names are so similar. Apparently, her middle name is Louise, so it's Sarah Louise Pulliam vs. Sarah Louise Palin. Just a few typos and I'd be running for VP.

Another update: Mollie over at GetReligion criticizes Wolfe's mention in The New Republic that Palin named two of her children after witches.

Todd Palin told People: "Sarah’s parents were coaches and the whole family was involved in track and I was an athlete in high school, so with our first-born, I was, like, ‘Track!’ Bristol is named after Bristol Bay. That’s where I grew up, that’s where we commercial fish. Willow is a community there in Alaska. And then Piper, you know, there’s just not too many Pipers out there and it’s a cool name. And Trig is a Norse name for 'strength.'"


Those two children, Piper and Willow, were named after the plane and the town, not the two TV characters.

I suspect many evangelicals will be approving of her not because they believe she's an evangelical but because they appreciate most of the positions she has taken and how she has behaved as leader. For my part, it's perfectly fine if her relationship to evangelicalism remains a mystery.

With my sister as the VP double we may have another "Dave" film in the making...

Come to think of it -- I've never seen you and Governor Palin in the same place at the same time.


Maybe we will get to ask her again in MN at the Convention. Hope she can witness to John

I'm astounded at Sarah's willingness to pick up and amplify baseless blog smears like "she named two of her children after witches." Is this journalism or gossip?

And Sarah, most of your readers will find the connection between creationism/pro-life and evangelical Christian faith a bit less puzzling than you.

CT editors, where are you? Or are you part of the problem?

Just love how she uses generic answers....c'mon shes from the cult Assemblies of God and doesn't want to admit because shes embarrassed by her Evangelical background
wake up people

Evangelical faith, as defined by Bebbington/Larsen, has no direct connection to creationism or a pro-life stance.

One's stance on abortion falls under the fourth distinctive, activism. But an evangelical could feasibly fall on either side of the abortion issue. Such is the nature of such a vague, broad movement as evangelicalism.

Further, one could be muslim or a non/post-evangelical and hold to creationism and a pro-life stance.

Evangelical faith, as defined by Bebbington/Larsen, has no direct connection to creationism or a pro-life stance.

One's stance on abortion falls under the fourth distinctive, activism. But an evangelical could feasibly fall on either side of the abortion issue. Such is the nature of such a vague, broad movement as evangelicalism.

Further, one could be muslim or a non/post-evangelical and hold to creationism and a pro-life stance.

Ignorance still persists among the unwashed mob. You apparently don't know a cult when you think of it . . . . watch out you may be part of one. Wake up yourself.

You really cannot identify an Evangelical unless you are one. I can assure you an overwhelming majority will not easily fall on either side of the abortion issue unless you call 90-10 a lack of real evidence.

David must go to the cult Assemblies of God and I hurt his feelings
Sawwwwwwy.. now go speak in tongues and roll around on the floor

Actually, Nick, I attend a reformed non-denominational church that is not at all pentecostal. I embrace a robust theology of mission rooted in the atoning death of Christ and believes strongly in the Church going about social activism through its own means without relying on the government to do the things that it should be doing, such caring for the poor and adopting unwanted children. The sum of these things makes me an evangelical.

That said, back off the assemblies. If you consider yourself a follower of Christ, you can do better than to openly bash them in such un-nuanced language.

To all: We must demand more than a candidate holding certain political views when we assess their faith (which we should do if they are setting that up as part of their public image). I know plenty of pro-lifers who have nothing near a saving faith in Christ Jesus.

Both World Magazine and Time Magazine report that Governor Palin and her family are members of Wasilla Bible Church, a non-denominational Bible church in her home town. She still lives there most of the time, not in the Governor's Mansion in Juneau. When in Juneau, she worships at Juneau Christian Center, affiliated with AG.

David... never said I was a follower of Christ...now go F@$#k off

I am dismayed that tested leadership and experience are not seen by many evangelicals as a necessary prerequisite for national office. I am horrified that this woman will be a heartbeat away from becoming president. John McCain is pandering to us evangelicals with this choice. Don't we see this? God help us!


Fair enough. But still, I would say that it's fairly ironic to make an argument against the stereotypically unintellectual Pentecostal movement with such ad hominem attacks.

The "two witches" would be television characters; Willow on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and Piper on "Charmed".

Willow Palin CANNOT be named after the Buffy character, because she was born in 1995, with the TV show first aired in 1997. And there was no character called Willow in the 1992 movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"; the character was just created for the TV show.

"Charmed" began in the fall of 1998, and Piper Palin was born in 2001. It seems clear from looking at the usage of the name Piper that the TV show gave many parents the idea of giving their daughters the name. It wouldn't surprise me if the Palins were among them. But that doesn't mean the child was "named after" the character in the sense of honoring her. The quote from Todd Palin above shows that this family, like lots of modern families, was deliberately looking for new uncommon names for their kids. Most parents who find such names on TV shows or in other media simply decide that the name is "cool", and the use of it for the character legitimates it as the name of a human being for them. But it's just the sound of the name itself that's important, not the characteristics of the fictional character. So it probably gives the wrong impression to say Piper Palin was "named after a witch", even if her parents first got the idea for the name from watching or hearing about the character.

I am horrified by the choice of Sarah Palin for VP. If she were running for governor or Congress in my state, I would vote for her because of her positions. However, she is not qualified to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency and I find McCain's choice to be an insult to America. Secondly, I don't want a Pentecostal in the White House. I think they're weak-minded cultists who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the nuclear button.

I'm an American living in Australia. I'm also a mother. It seems to me that Senator Palin is one woman who needs to be spending more time with her family - what with a pregnant 17 year old daughter and a new baby with down syndrome. It is irresponsible and stands in the face of the importance of motherhood. What is she thinking?

Obviously, Gov. Palin has been put on the ticket to convince the vast numbers of socially and theologically conservative Christians in this country to vote for the party this fall. But do Sen. McCain and his crew really know that much about conservative Christianity? A huge percentage of the people Sen. McCain assumes will rush out to vote that Gov. Palin become the next potential leader of the free world actually do not feel her qualified to be the pastor of their local church for "headship" reasons (for example, Southern Baptists). She can be president, but not pastor??? Uhhh...

Her 'evangelical' church said that Jews deserve to be killed from terrorists because they haven't accepted Jesus.

two weeks ago.

yeah, that sounds like the kind of christian church that makes christians look like monsters

Thank you so much for reassuring me that this woman's shallowness is not going unnoticed in the evangelical community. I am a born-again Christian who believes Barack Obama best represents what this country needs for its future. John McCain had an equal shot at my vote but the way he has behaved and the insulting addition of Sarah Palin to his ticket make me question what I ever saw in him as a candidate.

Just because someone say they are born again means nothing today, doesn't give you good judgement anyone for Obama needs to look again. Get off of Palin's back and give the woman a break and let see who she is. Right vote for Obama and have your freedom taken away, no bible, no guns, no rights...vote for a man who promotes abotion and you say you are born again..what does that mean today, not to darn much...oh we are all born again, we have sex outside of marriage, we drink, we do what we want because we are born again and God will forgive, think again.
And I tried drugs before and I am a godly follower of Christ, read the Bible, Jesus came for the lost, those who made mistakes, at least she doesn't kill her children.
Pray about this and let her have her say.

Despite her assertions in Time, Mrs. Palin is not a Bible-believing Christian. If she were, she wouldn't be speaking -- especially about God:

"Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." (I Timothy 2:11-13)

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection." (1 Tim 2:8-11)

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

"Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die." (Eccles. 25:22)

"A silent and loving woman is a gift of the Lord" (Eccles. 26:14-15)

So the follow up questions the Time reporter should have asked are:

"Which parts of the Bible do you believe?"

"Do you believe women are the cause of sin and death?"

"Do you believe that women should keep silent? That they should not be allowed to speak in churches? That they should not be allowed to learn anything except from their husbands?

"And what about those earrings and the hair-do?/"

I can appreciate a person's free will to pick and choose from the Bible. I've read it from cover-to-cover; it's a long document, full of statements that seem contradictory, and I sought help from commentaries and the counsel of priests and ministers from different sects.

I can appreciate Mrs. Palin's pro-life conviction. But I have yet to hear her opinions on the death penalty. Surely, if she is pro-life, she must oppose the death penalty...and war: a debacle that, as we've seen in recent years, has killed so many women and children.

I'd like to see her say "No abortion, no death penalty, no war! No way, no how!"

And then maybe add, "I shouldn't be saying such things, because I'm a woman. And my Bible teaches me that as I woman I must not speak. From now on, I'll let Todd speak for me."

When will Americans stop putting fornicators in the White House? Everyone knows that Sarah Palin’s daughter conceived a child out of wedlock. But did you know that Sarah Palin herself conceived her first child out of wedlock? It’s the truth. That’s the reason she and Todd Palin eloped instead of getting married before God.

The Bible teaches that sex before marriage is the same as adultery. You can hate the sin and love the sinner, but that doesn’t mean you have to vote her into the White House! It’s time for Americans with family values to STOP putting people like CLINTON and PALIN into the White House. Our children deserve better!


Do you think its better to put Obama in the white house? Someone who thinks its ok to kill babaies AFTER they are born? SOmeone who mocked the sermon on the mount?
People make mistakes. Christians are not perfect. However, to hold the kind of beliefs that Obama does it grossly disturbing. If everyone who has had premarital sex is an evil fornicator that should never be forgiven, then you just wiped out half of America. Bill Clinton having affairs AFTER he was married is a different thing altogether. Get a grip.

Obama: supports killing of babies, supports queer lifestyle, has Muslim background/name

Not a very difficult choice here.

Sarah Palin is a real Christian. Anyone who reads the Holy Bible can see that she bears the fruit of the Spirit. She is loving, humble, honest.

1. First of all, I am a born-again Christian (not a Church-goer), there is a difference between being a Church-goer or a conservative and being a heaven-bound born-again Christian (John 3:3).

2. Abortion and homosexuality are NOT the only sin. If you harbor hatred in your heart against ANYBODY, bear false witness, commit fornication/adultery, if you lie, curse etc., you are the same in the sight of God with somebody that aborted a pregnancy. No sin is bigger than the other (READ YOUR BIBLE). "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

3. This is another sign that Obama is going to win decisively. There was a Focus on Family Pastor and some ignorant church-goer that prayed that God should rain on Obama’s speech in Denver. It did not happen!! instead GOP’s convention was interrupted by hurricane. The prayer by our dear Reverend Conrad in Iowa yesterday also will not be answered. God is going to show again that not all that calls Him God, knows and is doing His will. OBAMA WILL WIN.

Anyone who is a born again Christian and votes for any politician that supports abortion is a fool and will be held accountable by God. Read your Bible, you cannot believe just the things you want to. It is all or nothing.

Nancy - that's all very well - but you would have to go on to say that any Christian cannot vote for a candidate who believes in state execution. As you say, you cannot believe just the things you want to.