Monday, 23 March 2009
Sarah Palin's Religiongate (updated)
Religiongate is taking shape... Sarah Palin's behaviour regarding church and state is not only unethical, it's unconstitutional as well.
Let's have a look at what has been uncovered so far:
$639.50 to address the "Master's Commission" at the Wasilla Assembly of God. This is just one instance of travel and per diem claimed from the state to attend a religious event.
$13,000 in taxpayer funds for the Governor and the First Family to attend at least 10 religious events and meetings with Christian pastors, including Franklin Graham, the son of evangelical preacher Billy Graham.
$25,000 in state money given to the Assemblies of God Juneau Christian Center.
Exerpt from the History of the Master's Commission:
Master's Commission was born in the heart of Larry Kerychuk. He began the Master's Commission program in 1984 in Phoenix, Arizona along with Pastor Carmen Balsamo as director. Students pledged one year of their lives to scripture memory, the study of the word, and ministry.
God has poured his blessing on Master's Commission and given opportunity for many other MC programs to develop in churches across the country and around the world. As the program spread from church to church the need arose for a network to be established to preserve the integrity and purity of heart with which this intense discipleship training program was created.
Master's Commission Wasilla Alaska (MC:WA) was started in September 2005. Pastor Ed Kalnins, our senior pastor, was part of the first Master's Commission class in 1984. His testimony and experiences from the program are a big part of why Master's Commission exists here in Wasilla. MC:WA was affiliated with MCIN in September 2006. We were recognized as an established and grounded program within the network at the 2007 Master's Commission Conference, joining with hundreds of other affiliated MC programs around the world.
Juneau Christian Center, which received $25,000 from the state for their program The Hub:
Our Purpose: To win souls and make disciples!
Our Passion: To Love God and Love People!
Our Path: Win, Connect, Disciple, and Send.
1. WIN: New believers are added to the church through relational evangelism, church services and outreaches.
2. CONNECT: Both new believers and new church members are "plugged in" to Juneau Christian Center. Life Group Leaders help these individuals become a part of the Life Groups that meet weekly in homes. (Please see Life Groups for more details.)
3. DISCIPLE: Individuals enter the School of Destiny which consists of five seven-week levels of study. The School of Destiny will equip believers.
4. SEND: As each believer progresses through the School of Destiny, he/she will branch out into a ministry.
The Hub, a youth program at JCC, was opened by Sarah Palin and can be found under the tab "Building for Destiny":
"Destiny has begun! The new youth center for children through high school youth is taking shape.
The purpose of The Hub is reach out to youth and parents in Juneau, giving kids a positive place: to grow in safety, build strong relationships, be encouraged to learn in surroundings that match their interests, acquire confidence and prepare for fantastic futures.
The Hub and Kid's Church will provide staff and activities for the "critical hours" after school for youth from 7th grade through high school.
The Hub is designed encourage kids to enjoy learning in academics, sports, music, art, finances, computers, health, and life skills. From IPOD/study stations and video game terminals to a pool tables and plasma screen TV's there is something of interest for everyone. Oh yes, The Hub also provides a cafe that serve smoothies, drinks and light food to encourage fellowship."
If Sarah Palin had donated $25,000 out of her own pocket, it would have been acceptable. What she does with her own money is her own business. I suppose these funds would have been approved by the Alaska Legislature? If that's the case, did they approve it thinking it was to fund a valuable youth project for the benefit of the community as a whole? Did they know it was a recruitment project for the School of Destiny?
How could addressing the Master's Commission of the Wasilla Assembly of God, which has the purpose of networking across the state to spread their own particular beliefs, be considered state business and expenses paid accordingly?
Sarah Palin has been known to worship at both these churches and if she wishes to promote their teachings she should do it with her own money, in her own time. Exactly the same principle should apply to other religious events attended by the Governor and the First Family. Why should the state foot the bill for events that under the Constitution are separate from the state?
The first amendment gives Sarah Palin the freedom to worship as she wishes. It also gives her the obligation to keep her religious preferences separate from the business of the state.
UPDATE: I have added this video and some new links. (March 24, 11:20)
Master's Commission, Wasilla Assembly of God. Their statement about Sarah Palin (new link)
Juneau Christian Center, Assembly of God
The Hub, Juneau Christian Center. Letter re: Finance Committe (new link)
Further background information: Daily Kos, Talk to Action (new link)
Travel authorizations 2008
Article about travel to Wasilla for MC's graduation on ADN (new link)