Some light on Sarah Palin's church affiliation

Lots of rumors have been flying around about McCain’s VP pick, Sarah Palin and her family. In trying to understand her worldview, church affiliation has been of great interest. This seems understandable given the scrutiny given to Barack Obama’s pastor and the worldview espoused there.
Some are reporting that the family attends Charismatic or dominionist churches, but it appears that they attend a Bible church in Wasilla. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council said in a press release that the Palins told him the same thing at the Dayton, Ohio announcement of her VP selection. Peter Kirk at Gentle Wisdom gives a nice rundown of sources on this topic.
Here is some footage of Gov. Palin speaking at an Assembly of God church in Wasilla where she apparently attended as a child/teen. The Bible church she attends now would not be of similar views of charismatic gifts as would the Assembly church.
And then just released is this Newsweek feature on the Palin’s religious affilation…

19 thoughts on “Some light on Sarah Palin's church affiliation”

  1. Let me go back to an earlier thread, and maybe shed light on the “baptism” question. In Charismatic churches there are two events in the life of a child/adult that stay in the church. One is that the child is “dedicated” and that usually takes the place of the traditional Protestant ceremony of “baptism.” In other words, the congregation agrees to bless the child. Now, comes, in Charismatic, Penticostal Churches, et. al. the time for “decision”, or a commitment on the part of the teenager/young adult or adult in following the path of Christ and being “baptised.” This is usually a full immersion.
    The difference here, is that in the infant, the parent or parents are “christening” the child…sprinkling with water by the clergy…or “dedicating” that the child will be brought up in the Christian tradition. Different faiths have different wording for all of this.
    “Baptism” in the fundimentalist tradition, or charasmatic tradition is chosen by the person, and it is done with their full knowledge.
    Does this help explain the really quite “non-fishy” aspect of Palin’s journey? Unless, of course, the Baptism was done in a river or lake! Might be some fish in there.

  2. “Effectively giving away what belongs to all of America in favor of a few in Alaska who would effectively rape it”
    As a 46 year resident of Alaska I think your a tad bit out there. 1. States rights 2.The fed ALLREADY own most of AK 3. By raping it do you mean natrual resource development? Seems the EPA does a pretty darn good job of keeping the US clean. Until you make a trip to the remote regiuons of Ak and see FIRST HAND what mining companies and oil comapnies are mandated to do to keep the enviroment clean..Example workers can not empty coffee cups on the ground, you may want to hold off on believing the media reports on oil and resource development here. BTW, I frankly would like less of it just because I prefer less people. I would gladly cut wood for heat and pay more for supplies ot have the Alaska I knew as a child. Environmentalist have done just as much damage to this place as any other group. Last time I saw visual support of an environmental cause or a democrat, it was on the bumper of a 3/4 ton chevy truck. That made me chuckle.

  3. I have less worries about Alaskan separatism than I do about a major land grab by the state of Alaska of Federal lands while McCain/Palin would be in office. Effectively giving away what belongs to all of America in favor of a few in Alaska who would effectively rape it. It seems Palin is not in that respect a maverick, but would work for natuaral resources interests in Alaska to enrich Alaskans, not put money in the US Treasury.
    And to top it off I’ve seen a few evangelicals speaking frankly about how old and possibly ill McCain might be, and how it just might be “nice” if he were to die in office and Palin become president. As one put it, if god were to take McCain so that abortion would become illegal. Huh???
    Ok, Ayers. Not convicted of anything (not even Chicago’68), lots blather that might mean nothing. Worked for Richard Daley. A distinguished professor at the U of I – Chicago, a leader in school improvement, and appointed to the Woods Fund for his “passion for social justice.” Ayers lived in the same area as Barack Obama, who was also appointed to a seat on the Woods Fund on Poverty (3 years overlap), and got $200 from Ayers for his state senate race in 2001. And?
    Like one guy I read on this said, “I have done community work locally with individuals I barely knew and found out later that they had previous criminal records. Now if I run for office will I be guilty by association? With this kind of logic serving diner at a soup kitchen can be politically damning act.
    And Ayers isn’t even an ex-con.

  4. @Lynn David: Thanks for the links. Whatever her connections were, she clearly does not believe in independence now, nor has she as Governor. Apparently, she decided Alaska is a state, eh?
    Now, how about William Ayers and Barack Obama?

  5. Yes, records show Ms Palin was never a registered voter for the AIP. But for all but two months from 1995 to 2002, the governor’s husband was registered as an Alaskan Independence Party member, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.,0,6399468.story

    “Keep up the good work,” Sarah Palin told members of the Alaskan Independence Party in a videotaped speech to their convention six months ago in Fairbanks. She wished the party luck on what she called its “inspiring convention.” …
    Palin and her husband attended the party’s 1994 convention at a Best Western in Wasilla, Alaska, said former Chairman Mark Chryson, a computer repairman who is now the party’s webmaster. …
    Dexter Clark, an Alaskan Independence Party vice chairman, brought up Palin’s ties to the group in videotaped remarks to the second North American Secessionist Convention in October in Chattanooga, Tenn. “She was an AIP member before she got the job as the mayor of a small town,” Clark told the group. “That was a nonpartisan job. But you get along to go along. She eventually joined the Republican Party.”

  6. @Lynn David: What is your reference for the Independence Party claim? Last I read she produced her voter registration records which showed no affiliation to that party.

  7. I think Ms Palin and her husband’s association with the Alaskan separatist political party is more of a problem than any church affiliation.

  8. @Peter Kirk and LD: – I think this is very common in today’s evangelical world. There are so many churches with different niches and despite a friendly competition at times, there is often a recognition that churches are pulling basically the same way. At least that is how it is in this small town. As a religious person, I am curious if the children’s ministry decision also had any doctrinal overtones.

  9. She apparently attended WAG for about 25 years, hardly church hopping. I suppose that when she was looking for a more suitable place for children’s ministry she tried out Church on the Rock for a time before settling at WBC.

  10. Still clear as mud.

    From Newsweek: Palin has said she was baptized in the Roman Catholic church. As a teenager, she began attending the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Wasilla and was baptized there by the founding pastor, Paul Riley. Todd Stafford, an associate pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God, says Palin often publicly thanks Riley–now nearly 80 and still working as a prison chaplain–for bringing her to Jesus when she visits the church. She attended that Pentecostal church until she was 38 years old, when she switched to Wasilla Bible Church, saying she preferred the children’s ministries there.

    She attended Wasilla Pentacostal till she was 38, then Wasilla Bible. That doesn’t jive with what the Church on the Rock says about her church affiliations (

    In regards to Governor Palin being a member or attending Church on the Rock, this is a statement about her church involvement. Before running for Governor of Alaska she frequently attended Church on the Rock for approximately one year. Since that time she has visited on occasion and now attends Wasilla Bible Church with her family.

    How long before running for governor did she attend the Church on the Rock? She did not seem to go directly from the Wasilla Assembly of God to the Wasilla Bible Church as that pastor claims. Well, maybe her attendance was inconsequential.
    But baptized Roman Catholic? Then RE-baptized in the AoG? Something fishy there, religious wise – rebaptism. What is it with Protestants anyway, jumping from church to church shopping for something, I know not what. At least when I was Roman Catholic I WAS Roman Catholic, I did as what I suspect a christian should do, I surrendered myself to the faith and to the church. It was a dang freeing proposition up until the time I came to the realization that I was only lying to myself and thus became non-religious, aka an atheist.
    Were I stilll religious, and for that matter even now, the idea of her jumping around from church to church would worry me as to her decision making abilities. But that’s just me.

  11. Wasilla Bible Church pastor Larry Kroon emailed this explanation:

    Todd and Sarah attend our church when they are in the area – and they maintian a postive connection with a number of evangelical churches in our

    I emailed back to ask what his church teaches about the charismatic gifts.

  12. Hmmmm, perhaps she’s not Pentecostal but her churches are. This is from the Church on the Rock’s beliefs page.

    Holy Spirit: the baptism in the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2:4 is given to believers who ask for it.

    Acts 2:4 says

    All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

  13. Peter – Yeah, I don’t know about that church but around here Bible churches are more like Baptist which is not charismatic. I have emailed the WBC regarding this question. It may not matter much as her worldview was probably shaped by the AG church given her formative years spent in that denomination.

  14. It seems as though her conversion was in the AG church and has left that (according to the Newsweek article) and went to the Bible church. The change of churches may not represent a doctrinal shift., however.

  15. “Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal.”

    Meh… maybe she’s not.

  16. Timothy, she only spent one year at the Church on the Rock, see this statement, so their doctrine may not be relevant. I suspect that the Bible Church is not quite so charismatic, but was apparently chosen in 2002 or 2003 as providing better children’s ministry for the patriotic Track and the now wayward Bristol, and of course Willow and Piper. As Sarah continues to attend Juneau Christian Centre when in town she can hardly be said to have abandoned Pentecostalism.

  17. I think you are mistaken on this one, Warren.
    First, she was raised Pentecostal, not “Charismatic” (a loose term that could include any number of doctrinal faiths).
    Second, Juneau Christian Center opens its history with:

    Charles and Florence Personeus arrived in Juneau in the gold rush days with a message of God’s love for Alaskans. Thanksgiving Day 1917, Bethel Pentecostal Mission, Alaska’s first Pentecostal mission, opened in a South Franklin saloon, which was closed due to Prohibition.

    I think it’s fair to say that she remains Pentecostal. As to whether either church is Dominionist, I have no idea.

  18. Thanks for the link. But don’t assume that Wasilla Bible Church has different teaching on charismatic gifts from the Assemblies of God. Their basis of faith affirms:

    We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit. By His indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life, and is spiritually gifted for ministry to others.

    The last part of this goes beyond standard evangelical teaching. If you want to find out more, plenty of sermons are available to listen to or read.

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