In a Newsweek Web exclusive, Lisa Miller and Amanda Coyne set out to find something juicy about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's house of worship, Wasilla Bible Church. But finding a "staid" worship environment that "steer[s] clear of politics" and whose main attraction is Biblical preaching, they opted to focus on where the governor used to worship regularly years ago, an Assemblies of God church:
Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes--no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage--and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of "speaking in tongues," a reference to Acts 2: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues." A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.
When Palin worships in Juneau, she attends an Assembly of God church there. Sarah Palin may not call herself a Pentecostal, but she has deep and long experience in Pentecostal churches. And as the race wears on, this biographical fact will likely become another religious Rorschach test--pleasing to some, discomfiting to others.
Sen. Barack Obama's long-time association with the theologically and politically liberal Trinity United Church of Christ, on the other hand, is ancient history to the media, unlikely to be resurrected (pardon the pun) during the general election campaign.
P.S.: Speaking as a Reformed credobaptism whose church practices infant dedication, I find annoying the use of quote marks around "dedications" in Miller/Coyne's piece.:
The Palins' new baby, Trig, was "dedicated" at the church two weeks ago, another pastor told NEWSWEEK. (Many conservative churches do "dedications" of infants instead of baptisms-postponing the baptism ceremony until the child is old enough to make a conscious decision for Christ. At a dedication, the parents and the pastor ask for the congregation's help in raising the child.)