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Sunday, September 28, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Sarah Palin's religious beliefs too extreme for America

by Carol Jensen

Not only should American voters be skeptical about Republican VP-pick Sarah Palin's lack of qualifications to become potentially President of the United States, but just as disturbing should be how deeply her religious beliefs and practices, which are clearly out of the mainstream, could ultimately affect the rest of us.

Her literal interpretation of the Bible leaves little room for the common sense approach that most political candidates in the 21st century factor into their policy decisions. The idea that someone with such extremist religious views could ascend to such power over the rest of us in this country, is truly a frightening prospect.

Most of us have seen Palin's speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God Church from June of this year, now a You-Tube video, where she describes the war in Iraq as "a task from god" and the proposed gas pipeline in Alaska as "God's will."

On that same tape, her former long-time pastor Ed Kalnin adds to her statements by predicting that at the end of times, before the "Rapture"- Alaska will serve as a "refuge"- and needs to prepare to convert "non-believers."-

Pastor Kalnin has also been credited with telling church members in 2004 that voting for John Kerry would condemn them to Hell. Recently however, that statement was said to be only a "joke,"- as has been reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. Currently this same church is promoting a conference that will "pray to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals."- I wonder if Sarah Palin will be in attendance for that little gem.

David Brickner, the founder of "Jews for Jesus"- was a guest speaker at the Wasilla Bible Church this August, with Sarah Palin sitting in the pews. He told the congregation that the terrorist attacks on Israel were "God's judgment"- of Jews who have not embraced Christianity. According to the Chicago Sun-Times the Anti-Defamation League widely criticized these remarks. Why didn't Palin jump up and condemn such nonsense?

The latest church video of Sarah Palin to make the rounds is one posted by Max Blumenthal on the Huffington Post. The video focuses in on visiting Kenyan pastor, Bishop Thomas Mathee, famous in Pentecostal circles for defeating a local witch (that's right, he is a witch-hunter) named Mama Jane, thus liberating his town from sin and allowing Jesus in.

After ranting for nearly 8 minutes on the video about how important it is for believers like him and those in the congregation to infiltrate every aspect of American society--including, businesses and all levels of government--the pastor then called Sarah Palin up to the front of the church, laid his hands on her and prayed over her while calling on Jesus to put her in the Governor's mansion and then on to higher office. He called upon Jesus to protect Palin from "the spirit of witchcraft."- This was such an extreme spectacle that it left me totally stunned.

Sarah Palin's long-time pastor, until 2002, Tim McGraw spoke to the Washington Monthly in early September, trying to shed some light on Pentecostal beliefs for those who don't know much about them. He acknowledged that some members "spoke in tongues,"- although he hasn't seen Palin do so. Some church goers also believe in "faith healing"- rather than in medicine or science. "End times"- is a corner stone of belief in this sect, at which time the second coming of Christ causes a violent end to the earth. Believers look forward to this event as Biblical prophecy while based on current events.

Palin's religious beliefs have caused her to take such a harsh stance on abortion rights that she believes all abortion is murder and that anyone having or performing one, even in the case of rape or incest should be punished by the law. Roe v. Wade must be overturned!

She opposes gay rights and same-sex marriage. Her literal interpretation of the Bible deems homosexuality "an abomination."- And she opposes extending hate crime laws to protect gays. I suppose she believes that they deserve what they get.

She is against stem-cell research and any medical breakthrough based on scientific research that she personally objects to. She has called for the teaching of creationism in public schools, which is particularly disturbing to all who do not share her personal beliefs.

The ultra-right wing religious zealots in this country are overjoyed with Sarah Palin's candidacy and by the prospect of creating a more "Christian Nation"- regardless of the diversity of religious philosophies held by so many different groups in this country. And they believe that Palin has been "sent"- by God to help achieve this long dreamed of goal. It could be just the Taliban--only Christian.

Now don't get me wrong. Any individual or private citizen in the United States of America has the right to believe in and practice any religion they choose. But when it seems clear by her actions that Sarah Palin will use government to impose her personal beliefs on the entire country, we should all be speaking out about this. Maintaining the separation of church and state is the only way our country can avoid being turned into a theocracy by people who think like Sarah Palin.

Jensen writes a weekly op-ed column for a newspaper in a small California town. After teaching English on the college level for 20 years, she now spends most of her time writing political and social commentary.