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WASILLA, Alaska — Shortly after taking office as governor in 2006,Sarah Palin sent an e-mail message to Paul E. Riley, her former pastor in the Assembly of God Church, which her family began attending when she was a youth. She needed spiritual advice in how to do her new job, said Mr. Riley, who is 78 and retired from the church.

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Video Sarah Palin’s Address at Assembly of God Church(youtube.com)

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Larry Kroon, pastor of Wasilla Bible Church, said most members were socially conservative because of their analysis of the Bible.

“She asked for a biblical example of people who were great leaders and what was the secret of their leadership,” Mr. Riley said.

He wrote back that she should read again from the Old Testament the story of Esther, a beauty queen who became a real one, gaining the king’s ear to avert the slaughter of the Jews and vanquish their enemies. When Esther is called to serve, God grants her a strength she never knew she had.

Mr. Riley said he thought Ms. Palin had lived out the advice as governor, and would now do so again as theRepublican Party’s vice-presidential nominee.

“God has given her the opportunity to serve,” he said. “And God has given her the strength to carry out her goals.”

Ms. Palin’s religious life — what she believes and how her beliefs intersect or not with her life in public office in Alaska — has become a topic of intense interest and scrutiny across the political spectrum as she has risen from relative obscurity to become Senator John McCain’s running mate.

Interviews with the two pastors she has been most closely associated with here in her hometown — she now attends the Wasilla Bible Church, though she keeps in touch with Mr. Riley and recently spoke at an event at his former church — and with friends and acquaintances who have worshipped with her point to a firm conclusion: her foundation and source of guidance is the Bible, and with it has come a conviction to be God’s servant.

Read the rest of the Times article

John Podhoretz (who is Jewish) responds to the new NYT article on Sarah Palin and her evangelical convictions, calling it “an act of secular aggression against a believing Christian.”

Here’s his conclusion:

There should be nothing exceptional to anyone in this country at this date about a politician who is also a believing Christian and who therefore thinks she owes her ascension to office to the role of the divine. What Palin said wasn’t even notable; it was what might be called Christian boilerplate.

The point here is that by treating the views of such people as though they are exotically fascinating at best and terrifyingly Other at worst, and by highlighting the views of a prominent Christian in an article intended to frighten rather than enlighten its readership, the New York Times (and those organizations sure to follow it down this path) only makes it likely that any ideological journey evangelicals might take this year will not be to the left, but back into the bosom of the Right.

Who wants to make friends with people who treat you with such contempt?

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