I post the following because I know, from long experience, the attitudes and certainties of this way of thinking – the “mind-set,” as Rev. Howard Bess, the interviewee, states. From what I read and witness, this is the belief system of Gov. Sarah Palin.
By no means am I attempting to criticize her salvation (that is God’s business) or the right of any Christian to seek public office or influence society. Under the Constitution, this is the privilege we all share as Americans. Yet, I will pause and add my voice to the warnings that the theological framework (or lack thereof) held by this group of Christians will inevitably influence or determine the adherents’ estimation of current events or societal conditions and direct their responses to such things.
I have to also say, since I am not all-knowing (shocking, right?), that all of this may well be within God’s will – the rise to power of Sarah Palin and those in league with her (and I don’t mean Republicans). I doubt, however, if it is God’s will that it is for the reasons her supporters believe it to be – mainly the triumph of good (them) over evil (those who disagree with them).
I spent a good part of my life – from around age 10 up through age 32 or so – in the Evangelical-Pentecostal realm of the American Christian faith. I spent 8 years in direct campus ministry with the Assemblies of God, Palin’s long-time and now former church. This was before the overwhelming of the movement and it’s organizations/churches by the American-Christian form of fundamentalism and the unrelenting drive of some of it’s primary leaders to gain political power and social domination through the Culture Wars of the politicized Religious Right. I saw what was coming down the line, for it had already started. We are fully in the swarm of it all.
I’m very glad to have experienced much of the very positive and life-giving aspects of American-Evangelicalism and the strong faith and expectation of Pentecostalism. Perhaps because I worked in university ministry, the rampant dualism and extremism that are now hallmarks of the movement and its organizations/churches was not so apparent to me. I don’t know. But I do know all too well how the system works and the mind-set or world-view now held by the movement’s leaders and adherents.
For me, I think this is the takeaway quote from Rev. Bass: “Forget all this chatter about whether or not she knows what the Bush doctrine is. That’s trivial. The real disturbing thing about Sarah is her mind-set. It’s her underlying belief system that will influence how she responds…” (emphasis mine)
Here is first few paragraphs of the interview:
The pastor who clashed with Palin
By David Talbot
Sep. 16, 2008 | The Wasilla Assembly of God, the evangelical church where Sarah Palin came of age, was still charged with excitement on Sunday over Palin’s sudden ascendance. Pastor Ed Kalnins warned his congregation not to talk with any journalists who might have been lurking in the pews — and directly warned this reporter not to interview any of his flock. But Kalnins and other speakers at the service reveled in Palin’s rise to global stardom.
It confirmed, they said, that God was making use of Wasilla. “She will take our message to the world!” rejoiced an Assembly of God youth ministry leader, as the church band rocked the high-vaulted wooden building with its electric gospel.
That is what scares the Rev. Howard Bess. A retired American Baptist minister who pastors a small congregation in nearby Palmer, Wasilla’s twin town in Alaska’s Matanuska Valley, Bess has been tangling with Palin and her fellow evangelical activists ever since she was a Wasilla City Council member in the 1990s. Recently, Bess again found himself in the spotlight with Palin, when it was reported that his 1995 book, “Pastor, I Am Gay,” was among those Palin tried to have removed from the Wasilla Public Library when she was mayor.
“She scares me,” said Bess. “She’s Jerry Falwell with a pretty face.
“At this point, people in this country don’t grasp what this person is all about. The key to understanding Sarah Palin is understanding her radical theology.”
Read the entire enter interview here or below.