A window into Pentecostalism

The Pew Forum writes that just as coverage of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s fiery former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, opened a window into life inside some black churches, Palin’s candidacy is introducing many Americans to the conservative theology of Pentecostalism.

Though Palin currently attends a nondenominational evangelical church and her campaign does not identify her as a “Pentecostal,” she’s captured on video at a June appearance at Wasilla Assembly of God in her Alaska hometown, saying “it was so cool growing up in this church and getting saved here.”

She also said “God’s will has to be done” in building a natural gas pipeline in the state, and said government functions won’t “do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.”

Pentecostals are known for their beliefs in manifestations of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, healing and prophecy — practices not usually embraced by other Christians.

“There would be mainstream Protestants and Catholics who would be put off by speaking in tongues and healing and some radical evangelists, Jimmy Swaggart types,” said Synan, a church history professor. “But the Assemblies of God is a pretty straight-laced, conservative evangelical Pentecostal church. They’re not given to much extremes. … The public perceptions are that Pentecostals are kind of nuts and off the wall, and yet you can see they’ve produced some leadership.”

Both former Attorney General John Ashcroft and Reagan-era Interior Secretary James Watt have been Assemblies of God members. Leah Daughtry, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, and Joshua DuBois, the religious outreach director for Obama’s campaign, are both ministers affiliated with smaller Pentecostal denominations.

Harper’s Magazine and other outlets have featured tidbits of sermons from churches Palin has attended.

Harper’s online edition quoted the Rev. Mike Rose, pastor of Juneau Christian Center, an Assemblies of God congregation where Palin has worshipped occasionally, saying: “Those that die without Christ have a horrible, horrible surprise.”

It quoted Pastor David Pepper of the Church on the Rock, a charismatic church she attended in Wasilla before running for governor, as saying: “The purpose for the United States is … to glorify God. This nation is a Christian nation.”

In response to criticism, Pepper cited quotes from the founding fathers that link Christian principles to U.S. government.

The Washington Post On Faith reports that Governor Palin’s church is promoting a conference to convert gays into straights through prayer:

“You’ll be encouraged by the power of God’s love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality,” according to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed for about six years.

Palin’s conservative Christian views have energized that part of the GOP electorate, which was lukewarm to John McCain’s candidacy before he named her as his vice presidential choice. She is staunchly anti-abortion, opposing exceptions for rape and incest, and opposes gay marriage and spousal rights for gay couples.

Focus on the Family, a national Christian fundamentalist organization, is conducting the “Love Won Out” Conference in Anchorage, about 30 miles from Wasilla.

Pew Forum: Palin offers window into Pentecostal beliefs, practices

Washington Post: Palin church promotes converting gays.

Past Posts