Thoughts from a church burning

Sarah Palin’s church, Wasilla Bible, was set on fire, an act of arson that did at least $1 million damage.

I suspect a lot of conservative Christians do not realize how much some people hate us. We are the “other” for a lot of people. We make them feel revulsion, fear, and hatred. We make them feel paranoid. They construct conspiracy theories about how we are taking over the world.

We Christians have been used to being in charge, culturally, and we think our niceness is enough to make people like us. Times and the culture have changed. There may come a day when Christians will be the new oppressed minority group, like American blacks were in the 1950s or like European Jews were in the 1930s. Are we ready for that?

About Gene Veith

I am a retired English professor and college administrator. I have written over 20 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Lars Walker

    You know what I expect.

  • Theresa K.

    I expect that it will be investigated as a hate crime.

  • Kirk

    Ooooh, I get it. All this time I’ve been thinking that Arson was the name of her estranged son!

  • Bror Erickson

    I think most of them will interpret it as the great tribulation and start wondering what went wrong when it lasts more than seven years.

  • Steve Martin

    Maybe that is what the Church in America needs…a little persecution (or a lot).

    It (the persescution) will never touch most of the safe, p.c. mainline churches. The last thing they would ever do is put forth their “Christianity” in a way that would make them seem intolerant.

  • Bror Erickson

    Actually I had a more horrifying thought after I wrote the last comment. That is many Christians will start to question their faith wondering why Jesus has not raptured them before the tribulation.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The hard-core Left view that orthodox and Evangelical Christianity is not to be tolerated in politically correct American society has metastasized into the liberal mainstream.

    A large part of the liberal vilification of both Pres. Bush and Att’y Gen. Ashcroft had to do with their being serous Christians.

    Serious conservative Christians in my state of Massachusetts are already regarded to be a dangerous and quite infra dig minority.

  • CRB

    Christians being persecuted is a “given,” of course. What form that takes we cannot know, but I do think that it will resemble the forms down through the ages of the church: false believers will persecute true believers, as well as the government persecuting true believers. However, since the government will not be able to discern who’s who, i.e. false teachers, believers over against confessional teachers, believers, then some forms of persecution will probably be indiscriminate, i.e. taxing all churches, para-church organizations.

  • Carl Vehse

    Another biased news report by the clymer press, this time by reporterette, Rachel D’Oro (her original story is here.

    In her article D’Oro uses the negative phrase, “intense scrutiny,” rather than a journalistically neutral phrase, “public interest” (or more accurately, “media interest”), about the Wasilla church? If the negative phrase about the church is used, then she should have identified the negative scrutinizers. Also, as in the case of Obama’s church and the hate statements by its pastor, D’Oro should provide some justification for a claim of “intense scrutiny”… other than the church being Christian (a word never mentioned in the original or updated article).

    Why bring up an event held in Anchorage, by a corporately unconnected organization that was promoted in a(!) Sunday bulletin. And who were the unidentified persons who “criticized” the promotion? Were they members of the congregation or church denomination, or were they persons opposed to Focus on the Family’s efforts to help dissatisifed homosexuals overcome their lifestyles? I suspect many other people were in favor of the Wasilla church promoting the conference, yet their positive views were not mentioned. Where’s the balance?

    And what is the agenda in even bringing up the Focus on the Family conference in a story about a church arson? The Fire Chief and pastor said there were no known threats from any groups. Is a connection being implied? Is the reporterette trying to express sympathy for those starting a church fire with children inside by associating the Wasilla congregation’s promotion in a Sunday bulletin with something the AP writer has cast in a negative light?

    BTW, a Freerepublic commenter had a great one-word description of the church arson – “Kristalnacht”

  • Manxman

    It’s the double standard that gripes me. I saw this story buried in the bowels of the Cleveland, OH Plain Dealer this weekend. If the arson had involved the church of a Black or homosexual candidate, the media would have created a firestorm of righteous indignation and would have gotten their socks in a wad over what a horrible hate crime it was. I guess conservative, White women Christians are fair game for the liberal “haters” in the media.

  • Bike Bubba

    It appears to be “Wasilla Bible Church,” not “Wasilla Baptist.” Not an entirely inappropriate mistake, though, as most “Bible” churches have theology that is at least somewhat Baptistic. I would expect, though, given Mrs. Palin’s history at the AOG church in town, that this one would be unlike most Baptists by accepting some elements of Pentacostal theology, too. I don’t know that for sure.

    I get very uneasy when we talk about “hate” crimes, by the way. Am I to somehow assume that someone set fire to a church because of love? Whatever the motive in this case, it’s a crime of hate, like all others.

  • Don S

    I don’t think the story is necessarily unfair to the church or to Christians, as it appears to just be, more or less, a compendium of news on the church which has appeared in the press since August, when Palin became the Vice Presidential candidate.

    There is no question that we are entering a period of persecution, or at least intolerance, of traditional Christian viewpoints, particularly as they relate to sin, Lordship, and the origin of the world. Being a Christian is regarded by many as disqualifying a person for office, because of a perception that the person cannot put his views aside while serving in that office (as if liberals put their views aside for anyone). This trend will accelerate, and spread to additional more traditional regions of the country over time, as Christianity becomes more of a foreign concept to a greater number of people. As mentioned above on this thread, we are to expect this, as it is the norm, and we have been blessed in this country to have been spared such persecution over so many years. On the other hand, it is the reason for us to remain politically active — to stave off such an intolerant environment for as long as possible.

  • Michael the little boot


    Kristalnacht? Seriously? Are you TRYING to be offensive, or just provocative?

  • The Scylding

    At the end of the day, you just need one lone loon. Until more is known, it might be wise to hold off on the wild speculations…

  • Bike Bubba

    No “Kristallnacht” analogies yet, please; the Brownshirts pretty much marched up to the synagogues and businesses and did their business pretty brazenly, and in a widespread manner.

    Try that in Alaska, and you’re likely to find out exactly who is taking advantage of their “no permit needed” carry law. The Brownshirts knew their victims had been disarmed just a few months earlier. (see

    An arson? Yes. A despicable crime? Absolutely! One based on politics? Possibly, but too early to tell.

    Kristallnacht? We’d need Chicago-like gun laws before that would be likely to happen.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Kristallnacht? We’d need Chicago-like gun laws before that would be likely to happen.”

    You’re right. The Freerepublic commenter probably got ahead of himself while thinking about the upcoming 0bama administration.

  • Michael the little boot

    “At the end of the day, you just need one lone loon.”

    Amen, Scylding. When we put a word in front of “extremist,” we make too much of a distinction. Extremists, whether Muslim, Christian, Anarchist, etc., are extremists first, and do not necessarily reflect anything other than that.

  • Carl Vehse

    OTOH, a “Muslim extremist” is more appropriately defined as a Muslim who doesn’t support terrorism. Such “Muslim extremists” are often, as much as non-Muslims, the targets of Muslim attacks.

  • Michael the little boot

    “…a “Muslim extremist” is more appropriately defined as a Muslim who doesn’t support terrorism.”

    Carl, you’re such a soft, cuddly teddy bear!

  • Charles E. Foy

    My belief is that the world is moving towards one religion that will be pleasing to most everybody. Christianity will not only be hated, but real Christians will be persecuted and murdered for their beliefs. When (not if) that day comes, you will see how few real believers there are!

  • Greg DeVore

    The double standard is huge. The power elites who control the media have targeted Christians. Everyday they are stiring up more hatred against Christians. This is further proof that post-modernity is dead. The non-Christian elites do not have a live and let live philosophy. They desire to extinquish any contrary voice and divergent belief.

  • Gulliver

    It might be instructive to hear the stories about Christian persecution in the former Soviet Union, both to see what persecution does to the visible church and what problems Christians had to deal with, and to see how God protected those who believed on Jesus. Such information could help Christians in the US better understand what problems persecution brings to one’s life. It would also help to read 1 and 2 Peter and Hebrews 12.