Website with Speeches and Sermons from Palin's Former Church Shuts Down as Religious Views of Candidate Face Scrutiny

Officials of Gov. Sarah Palin's former church, Wasilla Assembly of God, in Alaska, shut down part of their website Wednesday, stating that their server could not handle the higher-than-normal traffic.The part of the website no longer functioning appears to be the section where the sermons of senior Pastor Ed Kalnins were available, including one from 2004 -- after Palin left the church -- where he suggested heaven wasn't necessarily in the cards for anyone who voted for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.Also no longer available is the video of a speech Palin delivered in June at the graduation service for the church's School of Ministry."WasillaAG.net was never intended to handle the traffic it has received in the last few days," says a message on the church website. "Due to technical limitations, WasillaAG.net will be unavailable for the immediate future."Palin attended Wasilla Assembly of God from her teenage years through 2002. She and her family now attend Wasilla Bible Church.Srutiny of Gov. Palin ever since she was named Sen. John McCain's running mate last Friday has brought attention to all aspects of her biography."We have had some inquires into Governor Palin's beliefs," a statement from Wasilla Assembly of God reads. "We do know that Gov Palin is a woman of integrity. She is a servant of the people, she is a strong leader. As for her personal beliefs, Governor Palin is well able to speak for herself on those issues. "As Alaskans we are excited about our Governor being selected as the nominee for Vice President," the statement continues. "As residents of Wasilla, we are ecstatic about one of our own being thrust to the national forefront. However, as a church, it is not appropriate for us to endorse any one candidate over another."The Book of First Timothy, the church said, "tells us pray for those in authority. This we will do no matter who is elected. We wish the best to Governor Palin, and Senator McCain, as well as to Senator Obama and Senator Biden."Some of the video of Palin speaking at the Wasilla Assembly of God commencement address was recently posted at the liberal Huffington Post.The governor is shown speaking comfortably about her faith in Jesus Christ. "It was so cool growing up in this church and getting saved here," the governor says, "getting baptized by Pastor (Paul) Riley."Palin asked the congregation to "pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."The Huffington Post described this as Palin "paint(ing) the current war in Iraq as a messianic affair in which the United States could act out the will of the Lord," which McCain-Palin spokesman Michael Goldfarb called "a distortion of what she was saying.""She very clearly was saying that she's praying for military men and women to do what's right," Goldfarb said. "Every religious American prays that the what the U.S. is doing in Iraq is something that is a righteous act." Religious Americans regularly pray that acts they take, and acts they take, are the correct, or righteous ones, Goldfarb said, arguing that was what Palin meant by her remarks.Palin's current church has also undergone scrutiny.The Politico's Ben Smith reported that Palin was present for an August 17 sermon in which David Brickner, an activist for the missionary group "Jews for Jesus," considered quite controversial among many American Jews. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith has criticized Brickner for "targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception."Brickner in his sermon described terrorist attacks on Israelis as part of "an ongoing reflection of the fact that there is judgment" by God of those who have no accepted Jesus as their savior."When Jesus was standing in that temple, He spoke that that judgment was coming, that there's a reality to the judgment of unbelief.  …  Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television.  It's very real."Brickner described when his son Isaac recently "was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people.  Judgment—you can't miss it. "McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Goldfarb said that Brickner "was a guest at the church who Gov. Palin did not know would be speaking, and she does not share the views he expressed. She and her family would not have been sitting in the pews of the church if those remarks were remotely typical."Earlier this year, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, went through some tough questions about his now-former church, Trinity United Church of Christ, and his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who made many controversial comments from his pulpit. Faced with intense scrutiny of his church, pastor, and those offering guest sermons, Sen. Obama resigned from his church at the end of May."If the Obama campaign wants to have a debate about who was in church for what sermon," Goldfarb told ABC News, "that's not an argument we're going to shy away from."-- jpt

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