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Steve Coll on ABC News and “The Get”

Steve Coll on ABC News and "The Get"

For an upcoming edition of The New Yorker, Steve Coll files an opinion piece around Sarah Palin’s recent interview with Charles Gibson for ABC News. Not only does she appear to have little knowledge of the Bush doctrine, plus fewer international trips than your average American college student and a dismissive attitude about how important that may be in 2008, but she also has some problematic views on church-and-state:

Gibson played an excerpt from a video clip of an appearance Palin made in June of this year at the Wasilla Assembly of God, the Pentecostal church to which she belonged for twenty-six years, until 2002. The full fifteen-minute video, which is available on YouTube, provides a flavor of the evangelical environment that has shaped what Palin calls her “world view.” She told the congregation, of her efforts to build a gas pipeline across Alaska, “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built—so pray for that.”

The pastor leading the service then predicted to Palin that Alaska would become “one of the refuge states in the last days,” a place that would have to minister to thousands of Christians arriving from the Lower Forty-eight for the Rapture. Palin remarked that when she travels to Christian churches around Alaska, and is warned that a particular service might involve the raising of hands or other intense expressions of Christian devotion, she is able to say that she has seen it all: “I grew up at the Wasilla Assembly of God—nothing freaks me out about the worship service.”

Diversity of religious belief is an American strength, and none of Palin’s statements remotely disqualify her from national office. Still, the YouTube version of the Governor’s idiosyncratic narrative of faith, ambition, motherhood, and frontier life has a slightly different ring from the received version, which débuted at the Republican Convention last month; the video does not evoke “Northern Exposure” so much as it does “There Will Be Blood.”

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