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.
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.)
DISCIPLE: Individuals enter the School of Destiny which consists of five seven-week levels of study. The School of Destiny will equip believers.
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)


Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant line of inquiry as to how SP is really spending $$$. Thank you for this excellent post. I hope EVERYONE reads it, esp. Alaskans.

Separation of church and state is one key American characteristic that SP totally is against, as her actions clearly indicate.

the problem child said...

Great job, Regina!

FW said...

Sarah better get going on that defense fund pronto, she's gonna need more $$$. Is this legal? These churches were given state money to aid in recruitment of members!

Please, Alaskans, recall this woman and stop the insanity.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

$25,000 in state money given to the Assemblies of God Juneau Christian Center.
Can this be LEGAL???? I hardly think so!

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Reg, I hope you don't mind, I've forwarded this to AKM. I think you have uncovered something BIG!
This surely CAN'T be legal...!

regina said...


Forward it everywhere you think would help.

I'm hoping some Alaskan will file another ethics violation complaint!

Pebble Mine has some ethics issues as well, but they declined to investigate...

Dairygate is another one. Oh, there are so many!

Come on, Alaskans! Bust her legal fund before it gets started!


Candice said...

Thank You so much! This was an excellent post, this state (and the entire country) need to know where their money is going. I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state and feel very passionately that government funding should not be allowed for ANY religious groups. This is a travesty to us all.

mdlw56 said...

Great work, Regina!!!

And I agree you, Candice. I, too, am a strong advocate for the separation of church and state!

Daisydem said...

My query is (as mentioned above by someone) who is approving, signing off on these expenditures. I know she is Governor, but having worked at a state institution, even the President of our university had a board of trustees, and a whole finance department, not to mention a legal department, that reviewed any fiscal spending, any budgetary issues, etc. Who is allowing these funds to be spent in this way? More heads than just Palin's need to roll.

nasi putih said...

Those are all heads that she, GINO, personally hand-selects. Same as with the ethics committee that cleared her of any wrongdoing.
Talking about the fox guarding the hen house!

Anonymous said...

You can add to Religiongate that when she *finally* flew to Emmonak with food supplies for AK starving natives (after people all over the US had been sending food for months!) she did so in a state plane, with two religious men, and every box of food had religious pamphlets in them.

regina said...


Actually, they flew in Franklin Graham's luxury jet...

But the pamphlets are out of order.

I concentrated on those two examples because of the ethics angle.

I just hope somebody will sue her.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correction. I would think that flying in Graham's private jet would put her even more deeply into religious pockets.

teal said...

Again Regina, excellent work! Maybe this will be the one that finally opens the can of impeachment stew...

my W/V is unrein...LOL if only the queen were...

Lee323 said...

Great blog, as usual!! Palin has consistently thumbed her nose at the separation of church and state. While her fans may admire her, every citizen who's aware of the constitution should be appalled!

AKPetMom said...

I just have to say ewwww, ewww, ewww, and ewww. This sort of evangelism turns me off so much that I have people in my life that used to be friends but I can't be friendly with any longer because they subscribe to these crazy beliefs. No wonder Sarah Palin turns me off so much. I knew she was on a "mission" but I never thought she'd be so open about it.
She scares me, but not just her, all evangelical, neocon, crazy christian types scare me. And they don't scare me because I'm afraid of what the "hereafter" might bring. They scare me because they ruin people's lives, here in the only life we have been given to live.

Daisydem said...

When did these donations take place? Did any of these especially the $25K to the church in Juneau have anything to do with the national VP selection/election? Because if so, that is very, very SERIOUS, not just a state matter.

Daisydem said...

I get your point Nasi Putih, and that's what I mean. If whatever goes down takes Palin out, then anyone who approved these expenditures will need to be taken out too. Just hopefully, they will not be gotten rid of by Palin claiming no responsibility as she has historically in the past. The buck needs to stop with her.

luna1580 said...

y'all know that "destiny" especially when used in a youth-orientated context in the assemblies of god churches, is a code word for the "joel's army" movement?


if not google "Joel's army" -and "christian dominionist" for good measure.

mdlw56 said...

Thanks for the update, Regina!

Hope everybody checks out the Talk to Action site.

lisabeth said...

I have to say of all the things I have read about Palin, I find this one of the more disturbing. PLEASE people in Alaska do something more serious about this. I am not sure what it is, but something has to be done........ The woman is a danger to America and the diversity we have in this country.
Regina, thanks for your hard work. I follow SP since the election because she upset me so much. To me she takes womens rights back 100 years! I hate her politics!! I wish I could so something to help all of you but I can give support!

Dianne said...

Regina, I agree - someone in Alaska needs to file yet another ethics complaint against GINO for this one. This can't possibly be legal and everything I have looked at says it is not. Please-somebody in Alaska file this one.

Karen said...

LOL! Teal: 'unrein' actually is German and means 'unclean', or 'dirty'...

Anonymous said...

some of these things seem to be really clear abuse of her position. Has there been any ethics complaint filed in relation to her religious boostering as governor?