Christianity,  Politics

A Visit to Palin’s Church

You will not want to miss Newsweek‘s profile of Sarah Palin’s faith and her church. Among other things, the article says,

‘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.

‘Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes–no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage–and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of “speaking in tongues,” a reference to Acts 2: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues.” A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.’


  • Paul

    I grew up in an Assemblies of God church.

    Never saw a more corrupt leadership than what I saw there.

    It was there that I first got a taste of the prosperity gospel, before it was hip. (hey, at least they were trailblazers)

    And it was at that Assemblies of God church where I was told that I can’t be a Christian and a jazz musician.

    None of this is intended as a swipe at Palin. But my interactions with the AoG’s have been less than stellar. If she got out of there, then good for her.

  • quixote


    Must we always decide based upon our personal experience? Had Jesus done so, it’s doubtful He would have died for any of us.

    You don’t like AGs because of your experience. You don’t like female preachers because of your experience. You don’t like Republicans because of your experience.

    Can we please appeal to logic (for those of us who prefer philosophy) or to religion (for those of us who prefer theology), but give personal experience a rest?

  • Greg Anderson

    Paul #1,

    Don’t feel left out, I had a fundamental whacko tell me that if I didn’t get rid of my 3-disc copy of “Le Nozze Di Figaro”, I would spend eternity in a lake of fire.

    This comment is not meant to take a shot at Palin either. Even though I am at odds with her party’s politics and ideology, I have immense respect for her achievements.

    A candidate’s religion or lack of religion will never be a litmus test for me when I go to my neighborhood voting booths.

  • Paul

    This is making the rounds about Ms. Palin. If it is indeed written by a Wasilla, AK resident, then it’s well worth reading…


    I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
    Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
    first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
    father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
    first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
    City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
    residents of the city.

    She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
    girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
    won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
    she is a “babe”.

    It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
    kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
    for seven months.

    She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby.
    There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

    She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.
    She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out
    there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.
    Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
    champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
    sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
    work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
    so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
    major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
    like that of native Alaskans.

    Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

    She’s smart.

    Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
    (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
    670,000 residents.

    During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
    this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
    pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
    gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
    given rise to a recall campaign.

    Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
    years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
    33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
    City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
    (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
    regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
    promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
    benefited residents.

    The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
    weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
    money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city
    lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

    While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
    redecorated more than once.

    These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

    As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
    in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
    make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
    proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

    In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
    recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
    she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s
    surplus, borrow for needs.

    She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
    or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
    her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
    basis of who proposed them.

    While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

    Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
    Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin
    fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
    Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
    creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
    grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power
    to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

    As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
    her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

    She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
    help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
    introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
    became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
    abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
    like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

    Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
    publicly about her.

    When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

    As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
    Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
    politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
    nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.
    As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
    guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
    projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
    action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply
    because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

    She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
    leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
    them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
    fiscal conservative.

    Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
    They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
    predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
    stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
    point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s
    mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
    experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

    As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

    Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
    lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
    bears as threatened species.

    McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
    heartbeat away from being President.

    There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
    knowledgeable and experienced than she.

    However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
    regretting it.


    •“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
    •“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
    school, not since
    •“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
    •Social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
    that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
    (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
    •Pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
    promote it.
    •“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
    BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
    •“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
    residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
    No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
    supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
    administrator to run town of about 5,000.
    •Political maverick: not at all
    •Gutsy: absolutely!
    •Open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
    explaining actions.
    •Has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
    •”A Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
    and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
    •fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
    •pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
    without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
    streets to early 20th century standards.
    •pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
    •pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
    government in Wasilla’s history.
    •pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
    doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
    that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


    First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
    voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
    programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
    Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
    government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

    Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen
    when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because
    few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

    Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out
    of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
    fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
    cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

    Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
    or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
    attempt at censorship.

    Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
    say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.


    I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
    spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
    from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
    Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
    for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
    for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are
    swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

    You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000”, up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

    Anne Kilkenny
    August 31, 2008

  • Darius

    Paul, next time just link to it instead of taking up a few pages worth of comment space. From what I can tell, this Anne is a real person. But that doesn’t make her any less than just your garden variety bitter PTA mom who didn’t get her liberal agenda way.

  • Paul

    Lydia & Darius,

    no link. I got it in an e-mail blast, and it has been making the rounds.

    And are there liberals in Alaska?

    Sometimes, Darius, you can just think someone didn’t do a good job.

    Like your inexplicable dislike of Mike Huckabee.

  • Darius


    I did a ton of research on the Huckster, and would never vote for him, even if he was the nominee against Obama. Yes, he’s pro-life, but he’s flaky. He would appoint a O’Connor, thinking that she was on his side, just like Bush initially nominated Miers. I could see Huck making that same kind of asinine nomination. McCain worries me as well, but not nearly as much as a Huckabee presidency would have. Huck is a raving liberal, fighting to let dangerous criminals out of jail while making it illegal for people to smoke in public. His totalitarian strain of “conservative conservaliberalism” is disgusting, and has no part in the Republican Party.

  • Darius

    I should mention that most of my conservative Christian friends were supporting Huckabee (at least, once it became clear that Thompson didn’t have a chance). I tried hard to convince them otherwise (I think I succeeded with only one or two), but they all thought Huckabee was one of them just because he was (or at least appeared to be) an authentic Christian who was strongly pro-life when most of the other options were not so clear on their stance. I am so glad that he didn’t win the Republican nomination; he would have set the conservative movement back three decades and caused irreversible damage to the Republican Party.

  • Paul


    if pro-life politics is your #1 transcendent issue, how could you NOT have supported Huckabee?

    After all, he was the only candidate pushing for a constitutional amendment (not that it had a snowball’s chance of passing) banning abortion.

    And, whether you like a candidate or not, this is disgusting mudslinging…

    “…Huckabee was one of them just because he was (or at least appeared to be) an authentic Christian who was strongly pro-life when most of the other options were not so clear on their stance.”

    The man was a pastor, for Pete’s sake. to throw that “or at least appeared to be” in there is attempted character assassination at it’s worst. Have some respect for your fellow brother in Christ. I will say it again — we can have different political outlooks and still love GOD above all else.

  • Lydia

    “The man was a pastor, for Pete’s sake. to throw that “or at least appeared to be” in there is attempted character assassination at it’s worst. Have some respect for your fellow brother in Christ. I will say it again — we can have different political outlooks and still love GOD above all else.”

    Do ‘pastors’ get special dispensation to not be critisized or questioned? 1 John says that ALL believers have anointing.

    Gothard’s claim that God told him to build a ‘runway’ for Huck and AirForce One scared me more than anything about Huck. :o(

  • Lydia

    Lydia & Darius,

    no link. I got it in an e-mail blast, and it has been making the rounds.”

    I received an e-mail blast tonight from another Alaska PTA mom raving about Palin. Such are 21st Century campaigns.

  • mark

    This is such a great blog and forum for discussion, but some of these commentors (not just this post, but many I have seen) simply need to get their own blog. Wow.

    Anyways, Palin did a great job speaking last night.

  • Darius

    Paul, I did NOT question his faith, and I would appreciate it if you don’t put words in my mouth. I said that he appears to be a solid Christian. For all I know, he probably is. I was just throwing in that caveat about appearance because we all should know that appearances can be deceiving.

    As for what I would have done if Huck was the nominee, you know, I maybe would have come around to supporting him because of the life issue, even though I despise his populist politics. Either way, I was vigorously opposed to him in the primaries.

  • Paul


    the phrase “at least appears to be” will NEVER be conceived as a positive statement, nor can you expect it to be. It might have been a case of putting words in your mouth, but insofar as words that you typed, it’s quite easy to draw skepticism from a comment like that. And in that case, it’s only right for me to call you on it.

  • Darius

    I would say that of anyone, even someone with whom I am personally friends. It’s the nature of humanity, not everyone is whom they appear to be. In fact, appearances are almost always deceiving. I honestly did NOT mean it to mean that I am skeptical of Huck’s Christianity any more than I am of anyone with whom I am not acquainted. Obama professes to be a Christian, but has shown that he has not a clue about what Christianity means and has no appearance of being a “good Christian” (defined as right belief in Jesus). Huck, for his part, gave the right answers to theological questions, and seemed like a good guy. But who knows, he may just be a power-hungry man rather than a public servant.

    Don’t infer so quickly, if you think I’m implying something, ask first before mounting your soap box. It makes communication much easier.

  • carol jean

    “Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
    or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
    attempt at censorship. Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
    say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.”

    Fi, Fi, Fo, Fum….And she eats little children too….

  • Lydia

    “But to question the man’s faith because you don’t agree with his politics is taking it a bit far, don’t you think?”

    I missed that part. I was focusing on the part that said he should not be critisized BECAUSE he was a pastor.

  • Lydia

    “Fi, Fi, Fo, Fum….And she eats little children too….”

    you don’t keep your good looks at her age without some sort of help…”

    You need to retract those claws.

  • JohnnyNumber5

    that email about Palin is sooooo fake.. isn’t that obvious to anyone else? just enough truth sprinkled in to make it sound viable. im not a repub or dem or anything else other than a follower of jesus but that email is totally bogus.

  • Paul

    comment in moderation.

    here’s the link, but you’ll have to put it together yourself…

    go to

    search in politics in the soapbox section for Anne Kilkenny

    You’ll find it there. They even called the woman to verify the letter.

  • Paul


    nice work.

    The problem is, most of the stuff is still true.

    And the librarian thing still scares me.

    Firing someone as a loyalty test? I liked her better when she fired the librarian for not banning books!

    But, let’s talk about that: an executive official in an American town that still needs to abide by the constitution. And she asks a librarian about banning books?

    And, let’s look at Newsweek’s reason for calling a list faulty in the first place…the books were out of print.

    Now, last I checked, my CD collection of over 3000 CD’s was made up of at least 1500 of those being out of print. Just because they’re out of print doesn’t mean that they no longer exist, or that they vanish from my collection. The same thing would apply to a library as well.

    If the reporting is really that faulty, then can the article really be trusted in the first place?


    Try again.

  • Dan

    Paul and Hudson

    You guys need to calm down a bit about believing everything you run across on the internet.

    Look again at and read the list of books Palin is supposed to have tried to ban. Notice any that might have been written after the evil censorship issue?

  • Paul


    yes, Hudson should have been mentioned in that post, unless you’re a blind republican apologist.

    He quoted a faulty article. I called him on it.

    Sorry, bubs.

  • Hudson

    But Paul, that newsweek article debunked practically every one of your fictitious email’s points. No, most of the stuff in the email isn’t true. Also, the entire email was a _fake_. That’s the point. I was just pointing to a much more reputable source than a _debunked_ email to show that the _debunked_ email and its content was false. End of story.

    It might be good to check your source to make sure it is accurate, because just because it agrees with your view of the world doesn’t mean it’s true.

  • Paul

    The Kilkenny e-mail, i.e. the one I posted, IS INDEED TRUE AND IS VERIFIABLE ON SNOPES DOT COM, BRO!

    In other words, I know Ms. Palin must be paying you an awful lot of money, but you’ll have to get your facts straight before you pounce.

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