During the 2008 campaign the beliefs of various candidates’ spiritual mentors has attracted a great deal of attention, especially those of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and to a lesser extent those of John Hagee, who endorsed John McCain. So now seems an opportune time to examine the viewpoints of Sarah Palin’s two most recent pastors, as expressed in their sermons.
Since becoming governor in 2006, Palin has attended the Juneau Christian Center, where Mike Rose serves as senior pastor. Her previous pastor was David Pepper of the Church on the Rock in Palin’s hometown of Wasilla — a church that “was kind of a foundation for her.”
Of the two, Rose is certainly the more politically active, both locally and in the broader evangelical community (with ties to Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, for example). Pepper, it should be noted, is outspoken on slavery, racism, and the massacres of Native Americans, all of which he terms “sins” that still cast a long shadow on minority communities.
Sebastian Jones found links to many sermons by Rose and by Pepper. The excerpts below come from his review.
Mike Rose, senior pastor at Juneau Christian Center
From an April 27, 2008 sermon: “If you really want to know where you came from and happen to believe the word of God that you are not a descendant of a chimpanzee, this is what the word of God says. I believe this version.”
From a July 8, 2007 sermon: “Those that die without Christ have a horrible, horrible surprise.”
From a July 28, 2007 sermon: “Do you believe we’re in the last days? After listening to Newt Gingrich and the prime minister of Israel and a number of others at our gathering, I became convinced, and I have been convinced for some time. We are living in the last days. These are incredible times to live in.”
David Pepper, senior pastor at Church on the Rock:
From an November 25, 2007 sermon: “The purpose for the United States is… to glorify God. This nation is a Christian nation.”
From an October 28, 2007 sermon: “God will not be mocked. I don’t care what the ACLU says. God will not be mocked. I don’t care what atheists say. God will not be mocked. I don’t care what’s going on in the nation today with so much horrific rebellion and sin and things that take place. God will not be mocked. Judgment Day is coming. Where do you stand?”
From an October 28, 2007 sermon: “Just giving in a little bit is a disastrous thing…You can’t serve both man and God. It is one or the other.”
Christian conservatives like Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, and James Dobson have hailed McCain’s selection of Palin. Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, vowed earlier this year never to support McCain. However, within hours of Palin’s addition to the G.O.P. ticket, he had changed his tune, saying, he had “not been so excited about a political candidate since Ronald Reagan.” Given the viewpoints expressed by Palin’s pastors, it’s easy to understand why Christian conservatives are so excited.
Update: The Huffington Post reports that Palin was baptized at and long attended the Wasilla Assembly of God. The church’s pastor is a firm believer in the approaching end times and suggests that criticism of President Bush for his handling of Katrina was, “not going to get you anywhere, you know, except for hell. “