September 8th, 2008
02:42 PM ET

AC360° Exclusive: Palin's former Pastor speaks

Program Note: Sarah Palin’s former pastor describes how he expects her religious beliefs to influence her decision-making… Watch Rani Kaye's exclusive report 360° tonight 10 ET.

Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Since joining the Republican ticket, Sarah Palin hasn't said a peep about her religion so we decided to look into her beliefs for a piece on AC360 tonight.

She calls herself a Christian, but identified herself more specifically as a Pentecostal for most of her life. She had been a member of the Wasilla Assembly of God church from the time she was a young girl until 2002, when she left the church to join a non-denominational church that is more mainstream.

The McCain campaign has said Palin doesn't consider herself a Pentecostal.

Some Pentecostals speak in tongues, and believe in "faith healing" and "end times", a violent upheaval that will bring the second coming of Jesus and only believers will be saved.

We'll have an interview with Palin's pastor from the Assembly of God and let you know if Palin ever spoke in tongues.

Her former pastor says he has no doubt her religious beliefs are used in her decision-making when it comes to government policy. Regarding her desire to build an Alaskan pipeline, Pastor Tim McGraw told us, "Sarah knows that in Genesis, God creates the world and its very good and that we’re supposed to be caretakers in terms of not destroying the environment so there’s no way that Sarah is going to exploit or damage the Alaska tundra in the name of getting gas if she doesn’t have to."

Her campaign says she doesn't mix her faith with government business, but a video circulating on YouTube shows Palin speaking at Assembly of God and asking church members to pray for the $30 billion natural gas pipeline that she wants to build in Alaska. Here's what she said, "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas pipeline built so pray for that ...I can do my job there in developing my natural resources..But all of that doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart is not good with God."

She also talked to church members about "being saved" at the Assembly of God and suggested to them that the war in Iraq is a mission from God. Palin said, "our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we are praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

And remember those controversial comments by Barack Obama's pastor? Well, Palin's pastor has made his share too.

Senior Pastor Ed Kalnin, from Wasilla Assembly of God once said those who voted for John Kerry for president in 2004 would not go to heaven. The church has since said he was joking about those voters going to hell and has apologized. That same pastor also said that Alaska will be a refuge for the "end days"..that Alaska will serve as a shelter for Christians at the end of the world. Pastor Kalnin said "God is going to basically reserve (Alaska) for the place of refuge because the earth is groaning for the return of God. "

Do you think Palin's religious beliefs will affect policy if the Republicans win? She is anti-abortion even in the case of rape and incest, and she believes Creationism should be taught in schools. She is also opposed to gay marriage and spousal benefits for gay couples. And it just so happens her current church, Wasilla Bible Church, is promoting a conference to help turn gays straight through the power of prayer.

Do you think religion has a place in government?

Filed under: Randi Kaye • Raw Politics • Religion • Same-Sex Marriage • Sarah Palin
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Lydia Rogers

    Nikki asked – I wonder what other countries think of us? In Europe, many want to like the citizens of the US – but they question our intelligence for electing George Bush not once but twice. They feel our aggression. through Bush's actions in Iraq, has jeopardized world peace, and placed all in danger of terrorists acts. I will be out of the country from end September to mid November, and the logistics of voting in this critical election are difficult. When our Italian landlord was asked if we could use his address to obtain an absentee ballot he said "I know you have to vote for your next president. In Italy we know everything about your election... in Italy we are for Obama" Our first hand international experience, sadly has shown the world's citizenry much more informed on American politics than or own citizens.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  2. Scott P

    But what we REALLY want to know...
    is she a snake handler???

    September 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  3. Colin Evans

    Isn't it time we had a test before anybody can run for high office? You want to be a doctor – then study for years and years – become an intern, a resident and after at least a decade or more you might be qualified to practice. Want to be a lawyer? – get a degree, then another one, and take a very difficult Bar exam. And then become an associate for years and years (working 18 hours a day) and you might just make it.

    You want to be a Governor or VP? Grab your lipstick and put on a good pitbull attitude and you can do want ever you want! Don't know a thing about economics, foreign policy, or the constitution (who needs that silly old thing anyway?) – no matter! As like as you can dress sharply, sound sassy and snarky, then you too can be a VP!!!

    Is this really a Democratic country or are we in one giant Truman-like reality show? Do we wonder why the rest of the world laughs at us?

    September 8, 2008 at 11:14 pm |
  4. desertique

    A public servant that ties her religious beliefs to what the tax payers fund is unconstitutional.

    As a non christian tax payer I not only expect but demand that all religious beliefs be kept out the the business of the state and the American people who are the state.

    This woman is not welcome in my countries government and I feel the same as many have expressed.

    I would rather live in Iran where at least I know religion and politics legally intertwine.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Mauri

    There is only one consideration in the instance of considering Governor Sarah Palin's religion and that's if she is a Christian. That has been established by word and action, so end of discussion. This does make one wonder what else are they going to try to dig up that will sink this woman. Truth is, all this was tried on Hillary, but it's not going to work this time. Why? Because after all the trashing of the Clintons and the roar of the crowd for Obama NOT to name Hillary as his Vice Presidential running mate, everyone now wonders why he let such a jewel get away. It all comes down to the old saw, be careful what you pray for. Go McCain and Palin!

    September 8, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  6. Cindy

    You know, on one hand, I don't think this should matter. But the truth is, all the rules changed when everyone made such a big deal out of Rev. Wright's statements.

    OK, if pastor statements belong in political campaigns, they belong there for both candidates. Let's hear Gov. Palin herself address the comments made by her former Pentecostal church as well as the comments made about Jews at her current church. Does she condemn those comments, will she quit the church? Let's apply the Obama standard.

    What is fair is fair.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  7. Chris

    First of all, the article states Palin left the Pentacostal church 6 years ago for something more mainstream, so she has apparently given some thought to views expressed ... and maybe the pastor of this church has a gripe with her leaving and its a smear campaign. We all know preachers, pastors, ministers, priests, and bishops are HUMAN even if they haven't figured that out. But, whoever or whatever is 'up there' and I know I shouldn't suggest there is actually a GOD, but I do pray from time to time and actually a few of those have been answered ... I would much rather have a VP who believes than one who doesn't. The role of VP, even President of the United States is not a dictatorship. Yes, policy decisions are made and a system of checks and balances is in order, and the Supreme Court is always there ... and nominations are scrutinized, so get off this idea that Palin is single-handedly going to ban abortions, allow creationism to be taught in schools (and what's wrong with a little bit of equal time with that?), etc. etc. Why is it we don't debate the right of the President to worship while he's in office? Every one of them has attended church services in D.C. Shouldn't we request that they put that issue aside for four or eight years? Maybe we should establish a guide on what the proper religious affilitation should be for our leader. Now that I think about it ... wasn't all that freedom of religion stuff our forefathers fought so hard for to ensure people could believe what they wanted and worship as they chose without being hung in public.

    And for the record, I know a few Baptists that don't allow their kids to trick-or-treat, I even know one Baptist church that went so far as to have a Halloween carnival where the kids dressed up like angels and 'forgave sins' of other kids who went through the heaven and hell maize they'd set up.

    September 8, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  8. ximena

    Did this woman really say that the Irak's war is in God's plan???!!! What an abomination. This is an scary person...

    September 8, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  9. Dennis Brower

    It seems like gays, abortionists, liberals and atheists can't stand Sarah. A perfect reason to support her! The vast majority of our founding fathers believed in Jesus Christ so why are you so intolerant of this? I can't wait till she addresses the topic of religion.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  10. Maryanne

    The Rev Wright story was run for months over and over and over again.It is only fair to question Palin on why she was in the pew when that man talked about Jews deserving being attacked.And why she belonged to a church that believe Alaska is "chosen".This is way too dangerous and extreemist.Her pastor himself said he had no doubt she would use her religious beliefs to govern.She already said she wants to outlaw abortion even for rape and incest victims.This means if a 13 year old girl is raped or becomes the victim of incest that she has to have the baby.This is just too dangerous and too much.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  11. Tish,NC

    Wow my kind of Blog!! This proves the American people have had ENOUGH!!! We are paying attention! We are not STUPID!! We will not let the GOP scare us this time! We will not accept MORE LIES!!!TIME IS UP!!!! OUT with the OLD!! In with the NEW!! OBAMA/BIDEN/AMERICAN PEOPLE 08!!! YES WE CAN!!! YES WE WILL!!! Don't believe the polls only the electoral map counts!! Obama is ahead! Get out the vote people!!!!!

    September 8, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  12. Jennifer

    Ok, when do we get the piece about Joe Biden's religious upbringing and an interview with his former pastor?

    September 8, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  13. Darrell

    Someone, Some REPORTER, please ask Palin to quote the "establishment clause" of the First Amendment.

    Then Someone, please require a test for these power hungry
    politians to take. We don't know what they know. Make them
    take a TEST to qualify for the positions they are seeking.

    Make them PASS THE TEST before then can run, before they
    are picked as VPs.

    What am I missing here?

    September 8, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  14. Jos

    Religion has no place in government, unless we choose to include all 5000 religions in the world. None have a right to the truth more than any other. How can we have religious freedom if one particular view permeates our government? Keep religion in the churches.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  15. Bill Steinbrueck

    Leave Sarah Palin alone! This is America or did you forget! Her religious beliefs are not for you to pick at. Why don't you do some real reporting. Thanks.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  16. Aquinas Mediawatch

    May I recommend that you spell Randi Kaye's first name properly in the "Program Note" section. We could accept such carelessness from FoxNews, but not from the great CNN!

    As for my real comment, it is nice to see CNN investigative jouurnalism expose Palin for the evangelical whack job that she really is. John Ascroft lives on in a different tongue as a pit bull hockey mom–who is pretty good at throwing it around!

    September 8, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  17. Michael DeAngelis

    Are you kidding me???? Show me some video of her pastor spouting anything remotely as hateful/disturbing as Obama's former pastor and then you might have a story. The real question is how will Obama's time with Rev. Wright, Father Pfleger, WIlliam Ayers, etc. influence Obama's policy making. Better start asking the same questions of Obama or CNN will be the next network in need of a shakeup (cough...cough... MSNBC).

    Mike D.
    Registered Independent
    "Bitter" Pennsylvanian

    September 8, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  18. Rose Mayer

    How can Palin believe in creation, be anti abortion, believe in war and hunting for sport all at the same time.????I'm so confused, what kind of Christian is she????

    September 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  19. confused

    Palin in mainstream and so is her church.

    As for her church, the Assemblies of God is one of the largest and most respected church denominations in the world.

    The media will help Palin if they try to make an issue of her church, as it will rally the evangelical even more.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  20. Marhya

    Finally, the mainstream media is investigating her church like they did Barack Obama's. I hope you guys make as big of a deal out of it. Not because I wish her to be judged unfairly...just because I wish her to be fully vetted, which includes how she responds to your investigations.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  21. L T Moehrbach

    If the candidates running for office "might" be influenced by their religion, ie the message of the sermons they heard preached from the pupit of their chosen church – Americans best pray that Sarah Palin part of the winning ticket and NOT Obama.
    I'd love for those in the media posing this proposition of religious influence to do a comparison of the sermons Palin may have listened to and the Jeremiah Wright hate filled, anti-government, anti-US sermons that Obama and his lovely Michelle listened to for TWENTY YEARS.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  22. Jim

    Good to see CNN isn't wasting any time trying to demonize this woman and try to portray her as some sort of nut. Totally expected; totally predictable.

    Whatever tongue speaking may go on in Pentecostal churches, it cannot hold a candle to Jeremiah Wright.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  23. Yaron

    At any other "normal" country, if the president or VP candidates invoke their religion, they will be ridiculed at best. Everybody needs to read "The Handmaid Tail" by Margaret Atwood and see where this country is going to end up one Palin is in charge (after McCain kicks the bucket).

    September 8, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  24. Shaw (a very worried voter)

    McCain campaign continues to let out cry-baby about the media not treating Palin right. It is so obvious that there is so much that the American voters need to know about McCain's judgment and Palin's extremism (here in the name of God) and how much we don't know.
    Palin represents another Bush in her policy, values and governing style. Anybody who wants another Bush, go for it.
    For the rest of us, vote Obama/Biden, who think thoroughly, act responsibly and truly bring change to the country.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  25. Albert

    Who cares if Sarah is a Pentecostal or not? Can she help shake up this run away Washington Country Club. Lets give her a chance by listening to the things she has already done to the good ole boy network in Alaska. Obama attended a church for 20 years that taught him to hate America. Is that an acceptable religion. I think Americans can see through all the one sided scrunity of the media. It is very obvious that most of the media is pulling for Obama because they share his views on big government. There are a lot of well meaning folks who do not see where all of this leads: higher taxes, slower economy, weak defense, jobs leaving the U.S. This is not a change; this is the same old things that have been going on in Washington for decades. If Sarah can help turn Washington around, she should be at the top of the Republican ticket.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  26. steven

    the media needs to stop making her a victim and let her sink her own ship. The republicans can continually make her sympathetic because of the supposed attacks that have been leveled on her (which will only get worse if she becomes the VP). People do not know her record and i don't think that she will hold up against the scrutiny that she will be under for the next two months. Leave her alone, the media is not doing the democrats any favors...

    September 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  27. Jen

    Me too! We are getting new military orders in June and I told my husband to request overseas if McCain and his beauty queen win!

    September 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  28. naomi

    I thought America was supposed to be finished with dishing on someone's religion? Isn't this out of line? How is this OKAY?

    September 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  29. Chad Bulter

    What gets me is...what made thousands of people fall to Palin's feet after one speech?????????

    How is that possible in a free thinking society? The American people are oblivious to who she is!

    Not that she's bad, good, or indifferent, but who the hell is she?? Keep up the good work CNN!

    September 8, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  30. jason

    Can the media be any more hypocritical?! If the mainstream media tried to vet Obama like they are the GOP's VP pick, HRC would be running against McCain. Besides, Palin USED to go to a pentecostal church but she left BEFORE anybody made an issue of it, unlike Obama. This is not comparing apples to apples. What her church believes can all be found in the Bible–unlike crazy "Rev." Wright, who simply espoused unbiblical racial hatred from his pulpit in the name of God. Thanks, AC. When you're done with this tomfoolery, go do your job and vet Obama in the same way. He's got more skeletons in the closet than the NYC morgue.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  31. Deanna

    We don't need another George Bush in a skirt in the whitehouse.... bible thumping and dopey! Sometimes I think that Bush is talking in tongues but I am from NY so it might just be his accent. Palin is a former sportscaster who knows how to fake it until she makes it . Seperation of church and state. I am not sure it is possible for someone that thinks the Iraq war is God's will.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  32. Michele

    Who cares!! I mean honestly! So both Obama and Palin go to crazy churches........let's concentrate on something else....called issues!! It is amazing to me that with so much going on in our economy and in the world today, we can not divert our energy to solving the problems that matter and effect our everyday lives. We spend so much time on this meaningless jargon, we will be beat out by the other global powers because we are focusing on slamming each other rather than how to get out of the mess we are in. Shame on both and moreover, shame on the media. You set zero example...

    September 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  33. karen, az

    The public has no real access to the candidates – we can shout out questions, but they just ignore us. It is up to the media to ask questions and demand answers, and don't stop asking until there are answers. I would like to know from McCain why he continues to say that Obama will raise middle class taxes when O's policy papers clearly show he won't (and has been verified by reliable economists) I also think McCain should be pressed and hard on why he hasn't denounced the two books attempting to "swift boat" obama – "Obama Nation" by Swift boat co-author Corsi and "the Case against Barack Obama" by Freddoso. And if he won't comment on these things, I want to know why. McCain and Palin are so selective on what they discuss – they are thoroughly programmed to deliver their message and only their message. It's quite exasperating.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  34. Bill

    This "news' story is devoid of any substance. If you knew what a Pentecostal was you would know how ridiculous this story is. But it seems lack of knowledge breeds fear and that is what CNN hopes to accomplish. Creating and spinning the news will only work against you in the end and the media backlash will continue.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  35. wanda

    Shirley you must have been in a blackhole for the past years or so if you can actually say that CNN has not covered Obama's religious associations. I watched CNN for a week constantly looping Rev. Wright. I am so sick of all of you right wing nuts complaining about CNN's coverage. As far as I can see it is slanted towards everyone against OBAMA but that's politics and I understand who controls what they say. Make a point about the subject being discussed if you are intelliegient enough to do so. It's really about the economy stupid!!!

    September 8, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  36. C.J. from California

    Sarah Palin proves the wisdom of our founders in establishing the separation of church and state.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  37. Kristy

    The person that I would be frightened of is the pastor that is obviously seeking publicity and maybe some more offerings in his gold plate. Ooo..you mean she may believe in the end of times. Hello!!!! So do Catholics! How can you people be so obliviously blind by reading an article from a third party in lieu of getting the information straight from her. I grew up Lutheran, but that doesn't mean that I believe everything that Martin Luther stands for. You say religion should be out of the election – well, she didn't bring it forth, the media is allowing it be part of the election. But, for all your political peeps, do some historical digging and you will see most all (if not all) Presidents were religious – had a minister on staff and many even had a psychic on the payroll. Vote the issues. Vote smart.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  38. Ed

    Thank God (and I am a believer) that you wrote this article. For the first time in my life (I'm a senior) I am fearful for the outcome of an election – not because of politics or economics, but because of the threat to separation of church and state. With Palin, the intolerant are out of the closet and ready to dictate to the rest of us of all faiths, including their own. This is a nightmare, and I pray daily that the American people will recognize the deeply un-American strain being sounded by McCain/Palin and reject it.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  39. Anne

    Why isn't everyone terrified? Why are the polls so close? I have no doubt that with McCain's penchant for "walking his own road", and Palin's barely veiled extremism that their government will be isolated from the larger global community, reactive, and ignore the rights and needs of the American people. I am truly scared.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  40. John

    Thanks for digging into this underqualified woman's pentecostal past. From her convention speech alone, it was evident that she speaks in tongues .... forked tongues.

    Just imagine the sorts of rightwing fundamentalist Supreme Court justices this woman might appoint. McCain's appointees would be bad enough, but this woman's picks would be tragic for generations of women whose rights would be set back to Victorian times.

    The people who think she's hot stuff should be embarrassed for failing to use their critical thinking skills.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  41. Renee

    This is the first time I have read this blog and after having done so I am saddened and disappointed. I had hoped to see a little more integrity and balance instead of so many inflammatory responses. What a person believes in, whatever their core values are WILL affect decisions they make whether they are a Democrat, Repubublican or Independant. That is not something you can separate. Walk around Washington D.C. and read the inscriptions and quotes on the monuments. Read the writings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and then discern if their beliefs affected their policy.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  42. Ellen

    Palin has been in government for many years now and has a 80% approval rate here in Alaska. She has not gotten here by espousing some of the stuff that you guys claim. C'mon people. Ask the people of Alaska is they are happy with her and if she is "wacko" in policy making. If 80% of the people here like her, then she must be doing a good job. You reporters take her words out of context. I watched the YouTube video. She was requesting prayer that politicians would do God's will, and that people would pray that the war is in God's will. She was not decreeing that the war is a divine mandate. You guys are ridiculous. You are trembling and afraid of this woman who has done a wonderful job in her own home town and state.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  43. Abby

    I think you all are exagerating! Come on! Her religion is her religion and she has a right to believe what she wants. This is america.
    You all are turning mountains into mole hills.
    Do you remember the radical things Obama's Pastor said? That the American Governemnt created the AIDS virus to get rid of black people. How sad someone would say that– and how sad that people ARE so ignorant that they would believe that.
    LET ME TELL YOU it is a big mistake for liberals to focus on Sarah Palin's religion- because all it does is remind many of us of Obama–and his religion. And he is the one who would be PRESIDENT whereas palin would be VICE PRESIDENT.
    Democrats need to leave palin alone, it is only hurting them.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:08 pm |
  44. Pat

    Separation of Church and State.
    The last thing we need in our governement is a right wing religious nut.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  45. Buck

    Just what we need in the White House, another religious lunatic. Bush is a born again christian and look what his insane speaking in tongues beliefs got the world into. Born again christians speak in tongues too. I've personally seen it and it's disturbing. Not because "the lord" is speaking through them, but rather that they fake this ritual at all.
    There is absolutely no difference between American religious right wing radicals and Islamic radicals insofar that they let their beliefs in something that has not scientific or factual basis guide their decisions.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  46. Chris

    Let's just face it. They ALL follow a niche and say what we want to hear. Has anything really changed as a result of politics. We need seekers of truth and not more verbage that muddy the waters even futher. The new reality series:Campaign '09

    September 8, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  47. lacey

    I think that what ever she beleaves in is right as long as she beleaves in the blood atolement and that it should be threw out into public because what she beleaves in is her beleave and all beleaves is right if they beleave in the blood atolement

    September 8, 2008 at 10:05 pm |
  48. Jim in Asheville

    Let's see... Governor Palin believes in the God of the Bible, prays, and asks like-minded people to pray with her and for her on a number of major issues. According to polling from Barna, Gallop, and others, this is pretty mainstream stuff (the majority of Americans similarly do likewise, including most past presidents). Christians of all stripes hold these things in common. Pentecostalism might be somewhat on the edge compared to more mainstream Christianity, but it's not a cult or anything like the church of Rev. Wright. Besides, Palin changed churches six years ago. I'm not sure what the purpose of this story is other than to strike terror in the extreme left who think any deeply held religious beliefs are dangerous (except earth-worship and deification of self).

    September 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm |
  49. Harry Widdifield

    Sure... You can call June of this year "Sarah Palin's Pentecostal past" if you like, but for my part, it's as recent as her relevance on the national stage.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm |
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