Ken Silverstein and Sebastian Jones have listened to some of the sermons given by Sarah Palin's preachers, Mike Rose of Juneau Christian Center, and David Pepper of Church on the Rock in Wasilla. The clips show why the religious right is so excited about Palin; she attends theocratic churches that extol the myth of the "Christian nation," disparage evolution, claim that the only way to heaven is through Christ, and marvel at how we are living in the last days before Armageddon and the Second Coming.
Yet so far nothing has emerged showing the preachers disparaging Islam, like Rod Parsley did, or claiming that God sent Hitler for a good purpose, as did John Hagee -- statements that provoked John McCain to reject their endorsements. Still, McCain can run, but he can't hide from Hagee; some of his closest friends and advisers, including Joe Lieberman, Gary Bauer, and Sam Brownback, are close with Hagee (and Parsley, in Bauer's and Brownback's cases). And Rose's church, Juneau Christian Center, is hosting one of Hagee's "Nights to Honor Israel" in Juneau in March 2009, according to the Christians United for Israel Web site. (The original Web page has been taken down, but the cache shows the Juneau church on the schedule.) Indeed, in one of the excerpts Rose refers to what can only be a Christians United for Israel gathering involving Newt Gingrich and the prime minister of Israel.
Nonetheless, thus far, the sermons by Rose and Pepper show nothing more than standard conservative evangelical rhetoric. From Harpers:
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.”
In conservative evangelical churches all across America, this sort of rhetoric is par for the course. Indeed, Rick Warren -- supposedly "America's preacher" who center- and left-leaning evangelicals herald as the "next" generation with a broader agenda than the religious right -- admitted to The Wall Street Journal recently that there's no theological difference between him and James Dobson. "So why is most of the press under the impression that Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist, is so different from, say, Focus on the Family president James Dobson?" the piece wonders. "'It's a matter of tone,' says an amused Mr. Warren, who seems unable to name any particular theological issues on which he and Mr. Dobson disagree."
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