Insight into Sarah Palin’s Theology

Sarah Palin is a member of an Assembly of God church.

Guess who just so happened to be a preacher in that denomination?

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Well… before he went public as an atheist.

He sheds some light on the theology of that church:

Pentecostals are “gifted” people. Besides speaking in tongues, they also practice other “gifts of the spirit” (charismata) described in the New Testament, such as “interpretation” of tongues, prophecy, faith healing (“The prayer of faith will save the sick,” James 5:15), miracle working, and discernment of “evil spirits.” I saw some “casting out of spirits” (exorcisms) in that church. The Assemblies of God practice a direct worship, often with tears and raised hands, in intimate “spiritual” (emotional) connection with the creator of the universe. They are in love with Jesus and think he has a special love for them.

Most pentecostals are fundamentalists, believing that the bible is perfect and true, the only source of truth. I did not know a single Assembly of God believer who was not a young-earth creationist who believes dinosaurs roamed this planet a few thousand years ago. They believe in the non-metaphorical existence of demons and Satan (who, according to the book of Revelation, is a seven-headed dragon) who are roaming the earth luring vulnerable souls into evil. They believe in a historical talking snake and donkey, and in the existence of witches, wizards, and evil creatures that can infect not only an unlucky individual but an entire geographical region, which must be purged by prayer.

… They believe in an approaching Armageddon, a fiery end to the world, which they will escape in the Rapture. And that is what makes them so dangerous. They don’t really care about this world. They don’t want peace on earth — they want the violent biblical prophecies to be fulfilled so that they can get to heaven and be rewarded with eternal life. They want to say, “We told you so!” One of the pastors at Sarah Palin’s church announces that “the storm clouds are gathering.” Another of her Assembly of God pastors reports that “Sarah is a great woman. A religious woman.”

When Sarah Palin told her Assembly of God church earlier this year that the war in Iraq is “a task from God,” she was not speaking allegorically. As a pentecostal fundamentalist, she has to believe, as I used to preach, that we are indeed living in the end times. This is no harmless delusion. In America there is “no religious test,” and anyone can run for high office, as an individual, but that doesn’t mean we must not fear religious zealots exercising control. Although the First Amendment guarantees private citizens the “freedom of assembly,” the establishment clause requires that the government should be free from the Assembly of God.

By the way, Dan Barker’s new book, Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, is now available!

While we’re on the subject, I enjoyed this statement about Palin from The Online Gargoyle‘s Laura Dripps:

… we’re all supposed to rejoice and support a gun-toting, allegedly corrupt, inexperienced, social conservative, just because she’s a woman?!

As a Hillary supporter, I am offended. As a female, I am embarrassed. And as a human being, I am disgusted.

Make no mistake about it. The nomination of Gov. Palin isn’t breaking the glass ceiling; it’s just raising it out of our sight.

(Thanks to Robin for the link!)

  • mikespeir

    As a former AG myself, I have just one small quibble. I’ve known many AGers who were old-Earth creationists. But they certainly are creationists.

  • Mriana

    IMHO, Patin’s Theocracy, which is what it would be if she were to get into office, just enables the criminals and is a crime against humanity. These views do more harm than good and have no moral value.

  • PrimeNumbers

    Sounds scary….

  • Gabriel

    In high school I went to an AG service with a friend. He didn’t warn me what was going to happen and I was terrified. I thought they were going to sacrifice me on the alter the way they were flopping around on the floor and talking in giberish and screaming and crying. It felt like I was in a horror movie. I was a big (6′ 6″, 190 lb) 16 year old and I had been fighting most all of my life and they scared me silly.

  • Polly

    and discernment of “evil spirits.”

    I love zombie movies, always have. My mother always says the same thing when I flip to the latest Romero or Bram Stoker offshoot: You know, DEMONS enter into your dwelling through movies like this.

    Seriously.

    She discoursed on how the wooden elephant from India in my father’s house (it was a gift) is a demon magnet because it’s an IDOL!

    I look back and it’s no wonder I stayed religious so long. Our house was permeated with Christ-inanity.

  • Gabriel

    Polly,
    What did she think aboutthe dungeon and dragons type role playing games?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Laura Dripps is being ridiculous. If Palin is in the white house, that certainly is breaking the glass ceiling. Just because someone doesn’t like her, or because she holds some ridiculous beliefs, doesn’t make the accomplishment any less.

    Anyway, does anyone know if Barker’s new book is substantially different than his old one? The titles make it sound like the books are are a lot alike, and the descriptions and info I’ve seen online make it sound like perhaps the new one is just an updated version of the old one.

  • Polly

    @Gabriel,

    OH, I never played that game.

    Back then there were 3 things that were sure to bring the forces of Hell to your living room:

    1)D&D

    2)MTV – and, a little before that, heavy metal LPs. Uncovering “backward masking” was popular, too. I don’t know if anyone even remembers that.

    3)Occultism – including tarot cards, Halloween, and stupid party games.

    Harry Potter is also considered dangerous. But, of course, I’m a bit beyond that demographic.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    The description of Barker’s old book from ffrf.org:

    After 19 years of evangelical preaching, missionizing, evangelism and Christian songwriting, Dan Barker “threw out the bathwater and discovered there is no baby there.” Barker describes the intellectual and psychological struggle required to move from fundamentalism to freethought. Sections on biblical morality, the historicity of Jesus, bible contradictions, the unbelievable resurrection, and much more. This book is an arsenal for skeptics and a direct challenge to believers.

    The description of Barker’s new book from Booksamillion:

    After almost 20 years of evangelical preaching, missionizing, and Christian songwriting, Dan Barker “threw out the bathwater and discovered that there is no baby.” In “Godless,” Barker describes the intellectual and psychological path he followed in moving from fundamentalism to freethought. “Godless” includes sections on biblical morality, the historicity of Jesus, biblical contradictions, the unbelievable resurrection, and much more. It is an arsenal for skeptics and a direct challenge to believers. Along the way, Barker relates the positive benefit readers will experience from learning to trust in reason and human kindness instead of living in fear of false judgment and moral condemnation.

    I think it’s the same book with a new cover.

  • http://ARenewalEnterprise.com Dave Daubert

    Sarah Palin is NOT a member of an Assembly of God Church. She was previously. She now belongs to Wasilla Bible Church – a fundamentalist and non-denominational congregation. She may be a “cocky wacko” (to quote one Republican source) but she no longer belongs to the Assembly of God denomination.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Anyway, does anyone know if Barker’s new book is substantially different than his old one? The titles make it sound like the books are are a lot alike, and the descriptions and info I’ve seen online make it sound like perhaps the new one is just an updated version of the old one.

    Donna — Dan’s new book is the same as his old book, but with additional essays and updates.

    – Hemant

  • SarahH

    In my experience “non-denominational” serves as an excellent way to seem moderate (we accept people from all denominations! we don’t take sides!) while privately endorsing a very, very fundamentalist view of Christianity and a literal view of the Bible.

    “Evangelical” isn’t really a denomination – it’s a movement, closely tied in with those who refer to themselves as “born-again” and “Jesus freaks” etc.

    Non-denominational might not always be code for those things, but it always has been in my personal experience.

  • http://www.nautblog.blogspot.com Sean the Blogonaut

    SarahH,

    I concur with the non-denominational comment. We have a “non-denom.” group in Australia supported by the AOG infiltrating state schools to evangelise

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Just finished reading Dan’s new book. There is actually some new material in there. The first 3-4 chapters are the same as his first book, but the rest is pretty much new stuff. Some of it is taken from his various debates and some articles on the ffrf.org website. Some of it is entirely new.

    I’d recommend picking up a copy, even if you’ve already read “Losing Faith in Faith.” It’s in paperback, and pretty cheap.

    Footnote: I used to take piano lessons from a “secular” lady (an avowed atheist who played piano at the local methodist church) when I was a kid. She referred to the AG pastor’s kids whose lessons started right after mine as the “Assembled By God” kids. 30 years later, I see the humor in that!

    ATL-Apostate

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Thanks for the info about the book.

  • Desert Son

    Polly wrote:

    2)MTV – and, a little before that, heavy metal LPs. Uncovering “backward masking” was popular, too. I don’t know if anyone even remembers that.

    How could I forget? (Born 1973, grew up in the heyday of the backward masking hysteria)

    Played D&D, too. Come to think of it, loved Halloween (who didn’t? Free candy? I’m in!).

    I’m 3 for 3.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Gabriel

    Polly,

    Oh yeah, I remember all of that. I still remember the triel of Judas Priest. Remember how their backward lyrics were supposed to have caused the attempted suicide of two metal heads? I even remember when the lead singer for Judas Priest was on the witness stand and read the backward lyrics forward “I asked her for a peppermint, I asked her to bring me one.” I never go into D&D because I couldn’t find anyone to play with me. My friends mother said we would go to hell because the preachers said so and the preacher couldn’t be wrong. I was born in 1972 just to toss that in. Go X. We would kick ass if we cared to.

  • llewelly

    You know, DEMONS enter into your dwelling through movies like this.

    Those of us who have dissected cow eyeballs know the movie actually plays on your retina. So in fact the demons are trapped inside your eyeballs. And they’re upside down.

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