The nation spent weeks scrutinizing the pronouncements of Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright and asking if Barack Obama agreed with them. Now we learn that Sarah Palin has been exposed to some religious ideas that some might consider bothersome. Mrs. Palin is clearly a sincere, Christian woman, and that is all to the good. But it is important to know how religious ideas would guide her, if she were to succeed John Mc Cain as president of the United States.
Her family rejected Roman Catholicism when she was twelve years old, and she has spent most of her life in a Pentecostal environment. The Wasilla Assembly of God, which she attended until 2002, has a strong commitment to supporting Israel and believes the fate of Israel is tied to the coming of the end times and the Rapture, when good Christians are removed from the scene to protect them from the awesome battles to come.
Reverend Tim McGraw, her pastor when she was elected mayor, said that believers are always searching for signs of end times and added that:
The idea that Sarah would take this huge influence of the worldview that really only the Bible and the relationship with Jesus opens up … and suddenly marginalize it and put it over on the shelf somewhere and live apart from it — that would be entirely inconsistent.
McGraw said that Palin’s premillenialism would lead her to look at what happens to Israel for signs of when the end times will occur. The founding pastor, Reverend Ed Kalnins said the current Iraq war is part of an overall divine design in which Christ serves as a demanding general. Reverend John Hagee, an ally, has the same view.
We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You’re worried about getting hurt? He’s called us to die.
Kalnins claims God has revealed to him events that happened in people’s , and he states that “Alaska is one of the refuge states in the last days, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to the state to seek refuge and the church has to be ready to minister to them.” He believes in intergenerational family “curses,” and that certain geographical territories are possessed by demons.
Against this background, we should consider Palin’s recent comment:
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. . . That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.
Governor Palin’s defenders say she just was expressing the hope that God approved the war. In context, it appears that this was a God-ordained war and part of a messianic mission.
Which was it? And the bigger question is, would Palin use her power to influence events in the Middle East to hasten the coming of the Rapture and end times?
Since 2002, she has attended the Wasilla Bible Church, whose worship is a little less extreme than her old church. It has a program to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer and works to convert Jews. Recently David Brickner, founder of Jews for Jesus, visited the congregation and discussed terrorist attacks on Israel, saying they were God’s judgment on Jews who had not embraced Christ.
The Dominionism of the New Apostolic Reformation
Dominionism means that the saved must battle to take over the world in God’s name and rule it according to Biblical principles and injunctions. Three of Palin’s four churches have ties to a dominionist movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. Reverend Dr. C. Peter Wagner of Global Harvest Ministries in Colorado Springs, is the “convening Apostle” or leading light in the movement, and he says the reformation or New Apostolic Age began in 2001. They aim for a post-denominational Christianity shaped by them. Their leaders are God’s new apostles and prophets who have greater power than the original apostles and prophets. Spiritual warriors must convert adherents of other churches and seek political power. They think the end times will see the perfection of Christianity and they will have a perfected religion to turn over to Christ, when he returns. They will be given great power and crush evil with a “rod of iron.”
The New Apostolics are busy in worldly affairs because they believe they are destined to rule. In addition they want to expel demons, physically heal others, and raise people from the dead. They believe they have the world’s only valid religious belief system. They want a post-denominational church, but it will not be warm and fuzzy as some think. People can be forced to join the new non-denominational Christianity for their own good, and other churches can be forced to stop teaching false doctrines. One official of Morningstar Ministries admits that life under their theocratic rule “may seem totalitarian at first.”
They target youth to be a Joel’s Army (a distortion of an illusion in the Book of Joel) to seize political power and force non-believers to accept their version of Christianity. These churches engage in “spiritual warfare” as was depicted in the movie “Jesus Camp.” In the film, young people were trained to “take dominion” over the world. They will also purge the Christian church of elements that strongly disagree with them.
Since 2006, Governor Palin worships the Juneau Christian Center when in Juneau. It has close ties to John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Hagee and CUIF want to see the Dome of the Rock destroyed so the Third Temple can be built there. Juneau Christian Center’s Senior Pastor Mike Rose has said that he is convinced “We are living in the last days.”
Palin says her “home church” is the Church of the Rock in Wasilla, which also believes in Armageddonism. It is a Pentecostal church but she says she is no longer a Pentecostal. David Pepper, its pastor, said last year, “The purpose for the United States is… to glorify God. This nation is a Christian nation.” Young people from this church attended “The Call/Nashville,” where they viewed the movie “Jesus Camp” and learned about corruption in the world.
Three of Sarah Palin’s churches are quite different from most Assembly of God congregations and their attackment to the New Apostolic Reformation or Third Wave is considered a heresy. They seem to be waiting for the Rapture in a different way, and some redefine it. Others think the doctrine of the Rapture is a trick of the devil to create a retreatist mentality. One NAR leader said:
. . .the church isn’t going to sit and take it any more. The church isn’t going to wait to be helicoptered out of the world in some rapture rescue plan. The church will stay right here and by its spiritual authority even defeat the principalities and powers in the heavenlies, dragging them to earth and putting them under their heel
Governor Palin and Witchcraft
Much has been said about a video of two ministers and Kenyan Bishop Thomas Muthee praying over Palin to protect her from the spirit of witchcrafdt. Muthee is famous for driving a witch out of Kiambu, Kenya, thus lowering the crime rate there. This occurred while she ran for governor. The bishop gave about ten sermons there. Before praying over her, he gave a sermon urging followers to “infiltrate” government, education, press, and the media.
One of her Catholic defenders noted that she said nothing while being prayed over. But the point is that these sincere Christians believe that the world is inhabited by all sorts of demons and that the powers of demons even get passed down in families, just as curses are passed down. Some demons run territories; others are in some of their enemies, and still other very powerful demons run churches they dislike.
The reverse side of believing in evil demons is the teaching that the New Apostolics have the power to heal, raise the dead, and successfully combat the forces of darkness. The New Apostolics believe people can be given special powers to fight demons, and that is what was happening there. Of the event, Governor Palin said:
As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way. And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.
They see some Protestant denominations as being run by demons. They especially hate Roman Catholicism, which they see as driven by a very powerful demonic force. They hate the Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary, believing it is powered by a demonic foces associated in scripture with the pagan goddess Diana in Ephesians. Saying it was necessary to cast down the “Queen of Heaven, ” Reverend Dr. Wagner wrote: “While we were in Turkey, Doris [his wife] and I…knew that the power of the Queen of Heaven had to be broken in order for the gospel to spread in Turkey.” NGR generals and “prophets of intercession” views climbed Mt. Everest in 1997, where they planted a flag honoring Jesus. God assured them he would dethrone “Mystery Babylon the Great [in Revelation], Mother of Harlots.” Here the “harlot” is Mary, but more conventional dominionists and dispensationalists usually mean the word to refer to the Catholic Church. They attribute the death of Mother Theresa and the earthquake that damaged Assisi to God’s wrath. John Hagee was not lying when he said his use of the term “Whore of Babylon” did not apply to the Catholic Church. He was referring to Mary, who is also called “The Scarlet Woman” or just “Babylon.” Of course the New Apostolics have worse things to say about non-Christian religions.
Separation of Church and State and Tolerance
Dominionists simply do not believe in the separation of church and state. They want to take over and create a theocracy. No wonder they see nothing wrong in playing politics from the pulpit. Reverend Ed Kalnins, the founding pastor, has consigned critics of George W. Bush to hell. He even denounced those who criticized Bush’s handling of Katrina. He doubted that people who voted for John Kerry in 2004 will be welcomed to heaven/He said:
“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.”
Palin has said she will not force her religious convictions upon anyone else. We know that as candidate for governor, she wanted repeal of legislation that prohibited ministers from endorsing candidates. Of course this involves the United States Tax Code, not state action. She has also signed legislation proclaiming Christian Heritage Week. The literature attending it made it clear the founding fathers were good Christians and intended this to be a Christian nation.
Governor Palin once discussed a pipeline with a church group saying, “God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built. So pray for that.” If God is for a particular pipeline venture; that closes the subject. Does God really have an opinion on a pipeline? As governor, she said that her work might go badly “if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.” This seems to suggest that citizens should be Bible-believing Christians.
When running for mayor, there was a stealth campaign to put a “Christian” in office and she commented on the incumbent’s church attendance. A cable station hailed her as Wasilla’s “first Christian mayor.”
While she was mayor, people were busy tearing pages out of “dirty” books in the local library and she privately raised the matter of censorship with librarian Mary Ellen Emmons. She advocated censorship again at a meeting attended by others, and it was reported in the local paper. Palin fired Emmons because she opposed censorship, but public pressure brought Emmons back. But, Emmons no longer felt comfortable there and resigned and left town.
Many have noted self-righteousness, ruthlessness, and vindictiveness in Palin’s manner of governing. Did this come from certainty that God was behind all her actions. Did God join her firing an experienced police chief who did not want weapons in bars and the municipal building and wanted bars closed at 2:30 a.m. rather than 5 a.m.
What Goes with the Territory
As a right-wing Christian Republican, we expect her to oppose abortion, stem cell research, explicit sex education, gay marriage, and advocate creationism. But does her religious extremism carry this orientation farther. Is this why she made victims of rape pay for rape kits and testing? Does the belief that the world is about to end lead her to fierce anti-environmentalism and opposition to protecting endangered species. After all the world will not be here this much longer.
Sarah claims she is not a Pentecostal and seems to be distancing herself from her religious past. We don’t want to be intolerant, but her background raises many valid questions that should come into the open. Maybe she disagrees with her ministers a great deal or never quite understood what they were saying. There is such a thing as “cultural Catholics,” and maybe there is such a thing as “cultural New Apostolics.”
Sherman De Brosse is the peudonym for a retired history professor who was once chased off the Ohio University campus for protesting the John Birch Society. He also blogs at Sherm Says and on DailyKos.