November 4, 2008

Religion and Politics ’08: Sarah Palin

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Background

Hometown
Wasilla, Alaska

Age
45

Religion
Attends several evangelical Christian churches in Alaska.

Education
University of Idaho, B.S., 1987

Candidate Website
www.johnmccain.com/about/governorpalin.htm

Candidacy Status
Named John McCain’s vice presidential running mate on Aug. 29, 2008.John McCain conceded to Barack Obama on Nov. 4, 2008.

Political Experience
Governor of Alaska, 2006-present
Chairwoman, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2003-2004
Mayor, Wasilla, Alaska, 1996-2002
City Council, Wasilla, Alaska, 1992-1996

Professional Experience
Commercial fishing company co-owner, 1988-2007
Outdoor recreational equipment company owner, 1994-1997
Television sports reporter, 1987-1989

Family Information
Spouse: Todd Palin
Children: Track Palin, Bristol Palin, Willow Palin, Piper Palin, Trig Palin

Religious Biography

In His Own Words

“Nobody is going to convince me that my foundation of faith is not good for me and for my family no matter the mocking, no matter what anybody says about it, I’m going to keep plugging away at this and I’m going to keep seeking God’s guidance and His wisdom and His favor and His grace, for me, for my family, for this campaign, for our nation.”
Interview, Oct. 2008

Palin was baptized a Roman Catholic as an infant. When Palin was a teenager, she and her mother began attending Wasilla Assembly of God, a church affiliated with the Assemblies of God, a pentecostal denomination that claims more than 52 million adherents worldwide. According to Kaylene Johnson, the author of Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down, Palin asked to be re-baptized and was immersed in Beaver Lake in a ceremony that included her mother.

A point guard on the varsity basketball team, Palin led a Wasilla High School chapter of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Palin’s biographer recounts a story about how Palin, then a junior, followed up on a close loss at the state basketball tournament. The morning after the game, when the coaches didn’t see any of the players at breakfast, they wondered whether the team had stayed up partying. But later they discovered Palin and her teammates returning from a church service, Bibles in hand. The next season, Palin made the free throw that won the Wasilla Warriors an Alaska state championship.

Following Palin’s vice-presidential nomination, Wasilla Assembly of God’s website said Palin attended the church until 2002. Media reports connected Palin with several churches since 2002, including Juneau Christian Center, which has a pentecostal history; The Church on the Rock, a nondenominational, evangelical congregation; and Wasilla Bible Church, a nondenominational, evangelical church where the Palins’ youngest child, Trig, was part of a dedication ceremony in which parents ask for a congregation’s help to raise their child as a Christian.

At one point during the 2008 general election campaign, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin ticket told the Associated Press that Palin had attended different churches and did not consider herself a pentecostal. Shortly before her surprise selection as John McCain’s running mate, Time magazine asked Palin what her religion was. Palin responded, “Christian.” When asked if she was any particular type of Christian, she answered, “No. Bible-believing Christian.”

On the Issues

Abortion
Palin opposes abortion in all cases, except to save the life of the mother. She says that Roe v. Wade should be reversed and that “states should be able to decide that issue.” During an October 2008 campaign interview she said, “I’ve always had near and dear to my heart the mission of protecting the sanctity of life and being pro-life or a hard-core pro-lifer.” She said that when she found out early in her pregnancy that her youngest son would be born with Down syndrome, it scared her but also provided an opportunity to live what she believed. She has also said, “Alaskans know I am pro-life and have never wavered in my belief in the sanctity of every human life.”
Compare McCain and Obama

Church and State
In response to a question about religious leaders endorsing political candidates, Palin said, “Faith is very important to so many of us here in America, and I would never support any government effort to stifle our freedom of religion or freedom of expression or freedom of speech.” During her 2006 campaign for Alaska governor, Palin said her interpretation of the Bible would not “bleed over into policy.”
Compare McCain and Obama

Death Penalty
Palin supports capital punishment. During her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, she was asked whether she would introduce legislation – or support a bill introduced by a legislator – to adopt the death penalty in Alaska, and if so, to which crimes it should apply. She responded, “If the legislature were to pass a bill that established a death penalty on adults who murder children, I would sign it.”
Compare McCain and Obama

Education
In a 2006 debate during her gubernatorial campaign, Palin said she favored schools teaching both evolution and creationism but that she would not push Alaska’s state board of education to add such alternatives to school curricula, saying, “I won’t have religion as a litmus test, or anybody’s personal opinion on evolution or creationism.” She has not pushed the issue while in office.
Compare McCain and Obama

Environment
Palin supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as offshore drilling, to help America reach energy independence. In her 2007 state of the state address she said that “to sustain our future, we must look to ramp up responsible resource development.” She was instrumental in securing a license for a natural gas pipeline that will run from Alaska’s northern Prudhoe Bay to Canada. In a June 2008 speech at her former church in Wasilla, Palin said, “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.” In August 2008 Palin said she did not attribute global warming to man-made causes, but in a September 2008 interview she said she believes “man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change.”
Compare McCain and Obama

Faith-Based Initiatives
As governor of Alaska, Palin increased the role and authority of the Alaska Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which had been set up by the previous governor. Palin’s proposed 2007 budget caused some controversy by eliminating $1.5 million in social service grants for three Alaska communities and instead giving a similar amount to the state Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. That proposal was ultimately dropped.
Compare McCain and Obama

Gay Marriage
In the 2008 vice presidential debate, Palin said she is “tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners,” but added, “I don’t support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman.” In a subsequent interview, she signaled that she would support a federal constitutional amendment, similar to the one in Alaska, banning same-sex marriage. As Alaska’s governor, Palin issued her first veto in December 2007 on a law that would have denied health benefits to same-sex partners of state employees, stating she had been advised that the bill was unconstitutional. Also in December 2007, Palin signed a bill calling for a nonbinding advisory vote on the issue of benefits for same-sex partners and said she supported a constitutional amendment to deny the benefits if the advisory vote showed the public wanted such action. Before she was governor, Palin supported a successful 1998 Alaska state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Compare McCain and Obama

Health Care
Palin favors more competition in Alaska’s health care sector. In her 2008 state of the state address, Palin argued for doing away with a program that limits the creation of new medical facilities and criticized the program as “broken and expensive.” In the same speech, Palin supported a youth health education program to combat alcoholism, suicide and child abuse but emphasized personal choices in health care, saying that “government cannot cure all ills.”
Compare McCain and Obama

Immigration
Palin’s position on immigration is unknown at this time.
Compare McCain and Obama

Iraq War
In a March 2007 interview with Alaska Business Monthly, Palin, whose oldest son deployed to Iraq in September, said, “while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan.” In a June 2008 speech at her former church in Wasilla, Palin requested that attendees “pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”
Compare McCain and Obama

Poverty
In 2007, Palin introduced legislation to continue the Alaska SeniorCare Program, which provided support for low-income senior citizens in Alaska. “I’m pleased to present a plan that continues this important assistance to Alaska seniors, and helps keep pace with cost-of-living changes,” she said. The bill failed to pass at the end of the legislative session, but the Alaska legislature held a special session and voted to expand aid to seniors. To strengthen the economy, Palin supports reducing small-business and property taxes.
Compare McCain and Obama

Stem Cell Research
Palin opposes embryonic stem cell research and said in a September 2008 interview that “we should not create human life, create an embryo and then destroy it for research, if there are other options out there.”
Compare McCain and Obama