Patricia Nell Warren

Palin's Religious Affiliations -- Time to Ask the Hard Questions

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | September 29, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media, Politics
Tags: Joel's Army, religious faith of Presidents, religious test, Sarah Palin's religious affiliations, spiritual mapping, Third Wave

With just five weeks before the election, the major media still aren't asking Sarah Palin the hard questions about her religious affiliations. Sure, they've wallowed in the tabloidy stuff, like her alleged political corruption and alleged infidelity to her husband. But these are the common coin of politicians today. Many politicians are corrupt, and many are unfaithful to their spouses! Palin has also fielded comments about her inexperience and cluelessness. Yet these pale beside the issue of her religious affiliations, which put her in a unique, scary category that the American public needs to have discussed pronto. National security and the public good make it urgent that Palin be more forthcoming about the extremist international pentecostal movement known as the Third Wave, and the extent of its political and financial support for her campaign.

Is it too much to ask show-hosts on prime-time TV news to do their jobs? They should ask Palin questions like: "Is it true that you're associated with revivalist pentecostal elements who are training a so-called Joel's Army to take dominion over the U.S.?"

More good questions: "Isn't it true that you're affiliated with groups who have a key belief that certain cities and areas of America are under the control of demons?" "Wasn't your gubernatorial campaign publicly blessed by an African pastor whose MO is witch hunts and church take-overs of entire towns?"

If the media big shots won't do their job, then perhaps Palin needs to be summoned into deposition in a federal district court -- as Barack Obama might be shortly -- to answer detailed questions under oath about her religious affiliations. In a few days, the Philadelphia court is supposed to deliver its opinion on whether Obama should be questioned under oath about the circumstances of his birth, which allegedly (in the view of a few people pushing the lawsuit) disqualify him as a Presidential candidate. In my humble opinion, the allegations about Palin's religious affiliations are just as serious.

Investigative reporter Bruce Wilson has done an excellent background piece on the Third Wave, which is up at the Huffington Post. Naturally we can't expect any journalistic honesty about Palin from Fox News. But surely the bigwigs at CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS read the Huffington Post? As far as I know, the only major commentator who has touched this subject is Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. This piece of Wilson's should be required reading for every American voter before they go to the polls.

Third wave of what? You have to know what the first and second waves were. It's like with the Third Reich --you can't get a clear understanding of the European Nazi movement unless you ask why Nazi leaders claimed the history of the First and Second Reichs. It's amazing how many American historians go on and on about the Nazis but they never stop to ask this important question.

A Little History

The First Wave was an explosion of Protestant evangelical Bible-based revival that ripped through the eastern U.S., from colonial times into the early 1800s. Also known as the Great Awakening, it was (among other things) a reaction to the influence of Freemasonry among our leaders, and to the new federal government's insisting on "no establishment of religion by government." Protestant revivalists considered that their religion was the only "true" one, and their true political authority the Bible.

The classic countryside tent revival evolved towards its classic form during this time, with thousands of worshippers being carried away into emotional transports by fiery preaching and singing. It was heavily pentecostal, with emphasis on being "possessed by the Spirit," miracle healings, speaking in tongues, casting out demons, etc. etc. Politically, the Awakening also expressed a lot of fierce anti-Catholic feeling, as Catholic immigration to the U.S. was starting to pick up in the 1800s, especially with the flood of Irish immigrants after the Great Famine starting in 1840.

Historians differ on how many "awakenings" America experienced since then. In my view, the Second Wave was the one that accompanied the Civil War, 1861-65 and afterward. A revivalist spirit came bursting out of a civilian population shocked by the horrors of war. It won some legitimacy in the public eye because it joined with other religions in the fight against slavery and the temperance movement, not to mention moralistic campaigns against prostitution, pornography and other perceived "moral ills," especially in frontier areas where many churches saw the need for establishing their own idea of law and order.

Some historians add a third Wave in the 1930s, that sprang from Depression issues, and a fourth Wave in the 1960-80 period. But many church activists don't count the latter two Waves. So the movement's own view of history positions them as the Third Wave today. Its beginnings can be found in the emergence of the first politically active religious righters in the late 1970s. Today the Third Wave had gained such momentum and energy that it is considered scary and "heretical" even by many established pentecostal churches, who shun its doings. Their unfriendliness to Catholicism and other religions has been noted as well.

The question of a religious test

U.S. law protects the personal beliefs of candidates for high political office, and ensures that they should not have to face a religious test. That's a good thing. We established this principle after centuries of bloody tug of war in England over whether the King or Queen should be a Catholic, Protestant or Anglican. (England still has a religious test -- the monarch must support the Church of England.)

Through the centuries, U.S. presidents have represented a wide variety of faiths -- from the big establishment churches (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.) through minority religions like Quaker and Unitarian, to the sole Catholic, John F. Kennedy. Some Presidents were multi-hued, like Thomas Jefferson, who was nominally Episcopalian but also favored deism and Unitarianism. Joseph Lieberman got Judaism in the door for the first time when he ran as Al Gore's VP candidate. So far, voters haven't bought anything farther afield -- a Mormon President, for example...which is why Mitt Romney's candidacy hit the rocks. Technically speaking, no believer in any religion should be barred from serving in high political office in the United States.

However, I do think that a Vice Presidential candidate who has associations with a religious movement that advocates the political overthrow of the present order by an "army," and whose campaign may have benefitted from financial support by people who advocate this "army," has some explaining to do. And the explaining needs to be done before the election, not after.

Especially since that candidate could become President of the U.S. if McCain is elected and then dies.

The Third Wave's real intent

Are these ideologues who support Palin really bent on dominating Americans politically, not just converting them spiritually?

The Third Wave is a branch of what's called "dominionism." Sarah H. Leslie, a former religious righter, writes that dominionism advocates the "setting up the 'Kingdom of God' as a literal and physical kingdom to be 'advanced' on Earth in the present age. Some dominionists liken the New Testament Kingdom to the Old Testament Israel in ways that justify taking up the sword, or other methods of punitive judgment, to war against enemies of their kingdom. Dominionists teach that men can be coerced or compelled to enter the kingdom." Third Wave activists are targeting large numbers of young people, who are idealistic and easily inflamed, to be the core of their Joel's Army.

Taking up the sword? In documentary video footage that anybody can find on YouTube, Third Wave activists openly say that "God desires that Jesus be installed as king." And it's clear that they're not talking in metaphors.

The Third Wave's standard strategy is what they call "spiritual mapping." This means targeting a "demon-infested" city for such intense activism that they can get their people into office, law enforcement and other positions of influence, and thus gain the leverage to pass laws and ordinances, close clubs and bars, take over hospitals and school districts, etc. Third Wavers definitely consider the LGBT community as majorly "demon possessed," and would like to make us bow the knee to Jesus.

Sarah Palin herself has made open statements that a prominent Third Wave figure, Bishop Muthee of Kenya, supported her political career. This is the real meaning of the public gesture when the anti-witch activist Muthee prayed over Palin and blessed her campaign for governor. Palin credits his prayers with getting her elected. Alaska has been targeted for "spiritual mapping" -- and the state is now considered a frontier for Third Wave organizing (though the movement is rejected by many Alaskans, who are aghast and don't support it). And now the next target is evidently Washington D.C.

I'm in deep shock that these questions haven't been asked already. The Republicans who supposedly vetted Sarah Palin should have asked them. Were they asleep at the switch? Or does the Third Wave have enough juice with the Republican Party that they could dictate Palin as VP choice? We have a right to know.

This campaign issue is just as important and life-threatening as the $700 billion bailout. With the vice presidential debate coming up in a few days, I'm wondering if there's anybody out there with the courage to ask the hard questions. Will the Third Wave shoe finally drop...and drop hard? Stay tuned.

More info on Palin's religious affiliations at Talk to Action.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 11:27 AM

Well, here is something else to go to "" about. Thank you Patricia.

A person's "faith" is out of bounds for discussion for most media. I don't see why this should be as their lawmaking decisions are based on their religious beliefs, but they will deny it, as did Ashcroft. They can roll on the floor, chant and shake praising "lord make a wave", but when asked if their faith will make a difference in their Supreme Court decisions, they will say, "Oh, no. That's my own personal belief and would not influence my policy making". Cast an eye to the DNC. How the hell did Pentacostal Pastor Leah Daughtrey get chosen to be Howard Dean's Chief of Staff ? Same way. No one questions faith and they should, with a microscope.

In addition to the questions you pose, Patricia, it sounds like someone needs to ask Sarah Palin whether she can honestly execute the oath of office, which will require that she "protect and defend the Constitution of the Unites States of America from all enemies, both foreign and domestic ..." Such oath would include the First Amendment, which would in turn require that she defend the religious freedoms of Muslims, Buddhists, Scientologists, Wiccans and atheists to practice their faiths (or lack thereof) within America --- can Sarah look us in the eye and promise us convincingly that she would do so?

How can any member of a group who intends to impose Jesus as King (King of what country? The USA doesn't have a king ... and it would essentially be the end of the USA as we know it if we were to establish one ...) at the same time swear to defend the US Constitution as it currently stands?

No, there is not a bona fide religious test ... but there is the test of treason against the current pillars of government, and plan to establish an American theocracy always must flirt with it. Courts have ruled that religious freedom does protect conscientious objection, but it does not protect treason. This area has forever been a thorny one where political philosophy and fundamentalist theology inevitably collide --- ultimately, they both demand final loyalty and allegiance from the human mind and heart.

Anticipating the possibility of such personal conflicts, the oath includes a statement to the effect that the oath is being agreed to "without mental reservation". The goals of the Third Wave are exactly the subversive "mental reservations" that such wording anticipates, and it sounds like Palin's mental reservations could be glaring.

Yes indeed, Patricia, America deserves complete answers to such core and urgently pressing questions, and they need to be fully examined before November 4, not after. Obviously, time is running out.

To Charles -- most of the major media had no problem discussing the controversiality of Obama's religious beliefs, and Romney's, and Lieberman's...going right back to JFK and his Catholicism.

But for some reason the media are walking on eggs with Palin. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice said. I'm exploring this in my next post.

Good point. The media attacked Nancy Reagan's astrology so it's not about "hands off a womans belief". Looking forward to your next post.

I want to make 100 percent clear that a "religious test" is a law that bars a person from public office if they don't meet certain qualifications as to religious belief. We don't have any "religious tests" in the U.S.A. now -- though we used to, in the early days of the new nation. More about that in the ongoing series that I'm going to post -- because this issue is emerging as deadly important in the election, right up there with the bail-out.

However, a "religious test" law does not restrict the public's First Amendment rights to discuss a candidate's religion. Even the British can -- and do -- openly discuss in their press whether they should have the religious test that requires the Monarch to be Church of England.

Yes, it is important that we think carefully here. I now realize that evoking the word "treason" may have been going too far, but employing the word "subversive" was not. Whether we are talking about Christianists or Islamists or Communists, we might be very careful to delineate between the discussion of controversial ideas, and campaigns that actively seek to undermine foundational principles. It can be a difficult balance.

The way I "delineate" is this:

I don't object to a candidate having a strong personal faith. But I always ask myself if I think that candidate would be tempted, once he or she got into office, to use the power of that office to try establishing his or his religious views as law for all of us.
That's the dividing line, for me.

A good example is the typical militant anti-abortionist candidate. Their religion compels them to try and cut off the availability of abortion for others. They're not content to refrain from having abortions themselves.

Rick Elliott | October 5, 2008 2:49 AM

--CONTINUED--I'm technologically challenged and something strange happened while I was typing.
Mounting my soapbox--The belief that the church deals only with spiritual things and the State deals with political things--this doctrine is bandied about a great deal when something controversial is being considered. My experience is that separation of church and state is only invoked with issues effecting one's own "hobbyhorse"--matters counter to one's biases and/or opinions. For example some folks advocate putting prayer back in schools when their real agenda is furthering their own particular sectarian beliefs. Similarly elected officials invoke separation of church and state when the church is criticising its legislative efforts.
Church and state separation was invoked when some churches led the civil rights movement and others supported the cause, while the advocates of segregation said it was outside the churches' purview, but welcomed other churches who supported segregation actively or passively.
In case what I previously wrote disappeared into cyberspace, I was commending Richard Niebuhr's book, CHRIST AND CULTURE. Though written more than 50 years ago, his clear presentation of various ways that Church (and I believe he would include any religious group)and State can be related to each other.
One of the categories is the State subject to the Church's. Gov. Palin's religious group would certainly appear to fit this model--however, militant Islamic groups like Al Qaeda fit the same model. Third Wave sounds like it wants impose its beliefs on everyone, however, Taliban's efforts to impose an Islamic code of law have the same aim.