06 September 2008


In terms of foreign policy, the vice-presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, has no known views and, of course, no experience. Gov. Palin is, though, a life-long Pentecostal, although she now attends a non-denominational church in Alaska. Her talks to church meetings have been analyzed by an academic who has authored two books on Pentecostalism. This scholar says that Gov. Palin uses wording, metaphors, and concepts that exhibit a typical Pentecostal world view.

Recently (ca 4 Sept. 2008 on NPR's All Things Considered) that scholar stated that a speech by Gov. Palin indicates that she believes in spiritual warfare, a war between Good and Evil. (You can imagine which side she believes she and the Republicans are on.) Palin believes the war in Iraq, then, is a holy war fought by the U.S., according to the scholar. Further, Pentecostals believe Islam is a false religion. Last point: Pentecostals believe God intervenes in human affairs. All this is the interpretation of a Pentecostal scholar who says Gov. Palin exhibits beliefs of mainstream Pentecostalism.

My addition here is to ask whether America really wants a Vice-President, so close to the presidency, who might believe God has intervened to give her that office (and perhaps the presidency) and who believes in spiritual warfare played out in world affairs, that God is on the side of America, and in a holy war with Islam.

You might recall that George Bush during his first presidential campaign said he believed God had chosen him for President. Perhaps George Bush also sees the war in Iraq as a holy war, a war that has killed 86,863-94,781 civilians. (See http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
). Do we want any more politicians with lethal power who believe in their own Chosenness?

To be sure, there is an unknown interplay within all of us between our faith and ideological elements. Gov. Palin might emphasize her conservative ideological beliefs over her Pentecostal beliefs. But where the two meet, as they could often do, we can assume some primacy at the intersection of the two sets of belief. (There is some precedent of a Pentecostal in the Bush Administration with Attorney General Ashcroft. I will not attempt to analyze how his religion influenced his policy decisions. (But see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9403EFDB153DF937A25752C0A9679C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all)

Pentecostals and all others can freely practice their religion in America. But do we want someone who sees the world in such good/evil terms as apparently Gov. Palin does? This seems to me to be a formula that could cost the lives of countless thousands and untold millions of dollars. If one thinks God is on their side and all other sides are evil, then I believe rationality will sit on the sidelines and the world will become a more dangerous place.

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