Sarah Palin has been associated all her adult life with churches and political groups that are way out of the theological and political mainstream. Her extreme policy views as Governor reflect this background and raise questions about what kind of vice president John McCain seeks to have voters endorse.

It has been widely reported that McCain barely knew Palin and his team never fully evaluated her to determine her fitness to be vice president.

A recent report in The Anchorage Daily News stated that evangelist Franklin Graham made the Palin connection to McCain, not Republican professionals. Graham, the once-estranged son of Billy Graham, has strong ties to the various strands of the religious rightwing. He met with McCain on June 30 at his headquarters in Boone, North Carolina, after which Graham issued a statement praising McCain’s "personal faith" and prayed for "God’s will to be done in this upcoming election."

The Daily News concluded that "subsequent events suggest that the price of support for McCain by the fundamentalist Christian leadership would be a vice presidential candidate of their liking. Governor Palin was a logical choice for Franklin Graham, whose ties to Alaska include a palatial, by Alaska bush standards, second home in Port Alsworth, a community that has served as a retreat for Christian fundamentalist leaders."

Graham has been the keynote speaker at Palin’s annual prayer breakfasts for the last two years. When she fired the Public Safety Director over what is being investigated as a family matter, few noticed that she hired a local police chief, Chuck Kopp, who was "a rising star in Alaska’s Christian conservative movement," according to the Daily News. He was a frequent speaker at religious and "patriotic" gatherings, but perhaps more significantly he was a director of a Bible training camp in Port Alsworth primarily funded by Graham.

Those and other ties give credence to Graham’s support for Palin. When her nomination was ratified at the Republican convention, Graham called to congratulate her through the cell phone of Rev. Jerry Prevo, a Republican delegate who is considered the leader of Alaska’s evangelical movement, according to the Washington Post. He is also on the board of directors of Graham’s charity, Samaritan’s Purse.

A recent report in the New Yorker stated that conservative writers around the National Review and the Weekly Standard had met with Palin in 2007 and some had advocated for her.

The Nation reported that she had been vetted by the secretive Council for National Policy just before the convention, but that meeting may have been more of a ratification of the McCain selection. The Council is composed of several hundred of the foremost leaders and funders of the ultraconservative right wing, including billionaires from the Amway families, the Prince families ( the Blackwater mercenary operations in Iraq ), as well as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Phyllis Schlafly and the late Jerry Falwell.

While McCain may have trusted Graham to help him out of the political decline he was experiencing at the time he named Palin as his vice presidential pick, he would have benefited by having a thorough review of her character before he took the plunge with her name.

McCain would have found that she supported Ron Paul, not himself, in the Republican primaries; that she tried to ban books not to her liking; that her amateurish land deals ( building on land that the city did not own ) put Wasilla in deep debt; she also tried to fire people that disagreed with her or crossed her family. He would have found that she was active in churches that are part of a movement that excoriates major Christian denominations while building a movement to take dominion over society. He would have found a Governor who flirts in a fringe rightwing pro militia political party that wants Alaska to secede from the United States.

Until 2002, Palin was a member of the Wasilla Assembly of God. While the name suggests a church of a conservative Pentecostal denomination, it was and is more than that. The background of this and other Palin churches needs more than a thirty second word bite to explain, which is why so little has been written about it.

Palin, since her ascension to Governor in 2006, has been attending the Juneau Christian Center in the state capitol, as well as two nondenominational churches, Wasilla Bible Church and Church on the Rock. All of these churches are in the New Apostolic Reformation ( NAR ), a movement that seeks to sweep away established Christianity, take the reins of governments and purge evil as they see it from the world. These views shape the outlook of their congregants, including those of Sarah Palin.

Once a marginal and condemned campaign, NAR’s foremost leader, C. Peter Wagner, estimates his movement to now have as many churches as the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. They have hundreds of millions of dollars, mass communications networks, political infrastructure and many youth ministries at their disposal.

Origins of movements are always an arbitrary judgment, but many trace this phenomenon to the Latter Rain revival movement of the late 1940’s that began in Saskatchewan and spread across the continent, prophesying end times. In Detroit, the Bethesda Missionary Temple ( now Bethesda Christian Church in Sterling Heights ) became a national beacon for the movement.

Much of the movement was occurring within the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination. The Assemblies of God Superintendent at the time condemned the Latter Rain as "the reappearance of enthusiastic mysticism common in church history." Many Assemblies churches left the denomination to grow the movement on their own.

Unbridled by no denominational accountability, they developed concepts of sinless, sainted, perfect leaders that would themselves become gods or godlike. Others saw themselves as first century apostles leading a reformation, not for the saving of souls, but for temporal power. Many evolved cultic control over members, demanding deep submission to "anointed" leaders.

Ministries were created to penetrate business, church denominations, governments and political parties. Prayer breakfasts have been held at the Pentagon that won over many generals and admirals, for instance. When Sarah Palin was campaigning for Governor, Wasilla Assembly of God held a special service to outline the need to penetrate government, business, media, education and other social sectors and then laid hands on her for winning the election.

Many recruited to the task of being placed in positions were instructed to keep their affiliations and mission secret so that the true scope of the campaign would not be known until they took power. Others went further underground, organizing cell churches to prepare for apocalyptic battle.

The Latter Rain evolved into the NAR of today with many types of self-anointed apostles and prophets. Some of them travel through Palin’s churches. They promote creationism, antigay justifications, end-times doom and building the end time army, sometimes called Joel’s army, referenced as a terrifying army in the Book of Joel.

The Wasilla Assembly of God, where Palin still comes for special events, has a three-year youth Masters Commission as an alternative to college. NAR leaders are part of the teaching program. Palin spoke at their recent graduation exercise in June, according to the New York Times. Palin has been in a prayer warrior group for 20 years, according to the Times. When she speaks on conservative Christian radio, she refers to support from "prayer warriors."

She appointed an elder of her Wasilla Bible Church to a vacated State Representative seat in 2007. He promptly sought to outlaw late term abortions and is promoting a state mandate that "intelligent design" be taught in public schools.

The Juneau Christian Church that she attends when she is in the estate capitol is affiliated with leaders of the "Toronto Blessing," an ultra-charismatic practice that includes "Holy Laughter" (otherwise known as hysterical laughter), howling, barking like dogs, screaming, spasmodic jerking and rolling on floors as part of, even the substance of, "church" services. This may sound harmless, but it binds members together in perceived antidemonic "power evangelism" to turn their cities into citadels for the righteous. One of these leaders exhorted the congregants to great applause when he claimed their movement is "going to shake this nation to its very foundations, to its very core...its going to shake America like a tsunami" and told them they would have to risk death for the cause.

Palin has to accept many of these beliefs to be in good stead and be upheld as she has been by these churches. Did McCain ask her whether she accepts the creationist dogma that the earth is only 6,000 years old? What does that mean for her policy of science and education? Did her militant antiabortion views cause her to force women who were rape victims in Wasilla to pay for rape kits on their own in order to prove they had been assaulted in order to reduce the number of rape claims and ensuing demands for abortion? Did Palin, as one minister reported, conduct sidewalk harassment outside of a doctor’s office because she performed abortions at the local hospital, in order to intimidate the doctor?

Finally, does she hold views on the Biblical end times that welcomes the long-prophesied war with Russia as a precursor to the Millenium? In her interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson, war with Russia seemed fine with her.

In September 2000, when she was Mayor of Wasilla, Palin asked the City Council to make Wasilla part of Bill Gothard’s City of Character program. Unbeknownst to the Council, Gothard runs secretive Christian paramilitary training camps. His practice of extreme submission of participants in his Institute of Basic Life Principles has been cited for abuse by officials in Indiana and is a source of controversy in evangelical circles. Gothard tries to use his entrée into municipalities to develop training programs in police departments, as well as have government sponsors for his indoctrination practices.

A powerful theme throughout the NAR movement is that the U.S. must become a "Christian nation," which means the truly godly ( NAR leaders ) must rule and reign. Some have backed a small political party, the Constitution Party, ( actually the third largest political party in the U.S. ), which calls for the establishment of "Biblical law," a term used by some party founders to advocate replacing the Constitution with Old Testament law.

With this kind of background, what does it say for McCain’s judgment, for his concern for the leadership of our country, that he would select her to be vice president of the United States, even when she stated that she was unsure what the duties of the VP were? He stated at the time that she was the most qualified person in the United States for this position. He has selected the most extreme elected official holding high office to now be one weak heartbeat from the presidency. Already some of Palin’s NAR supporters are issuing "imprecatory prayers" that God kill McCain so that Palin becomes President. They want his soul saved first, however.

The Republican machinery has responded to McCain’s choice by keeping her away from the media, sending her to safe crowds on a scripted leash. She may be the only VP candidate who does not hold a press conference and allow questions to be asked of her.

Incidentally, the Ron Paul guy that she backed against McCain in the primaries, has not returned the favor to Palin. He has endorsed the Constitution Party candidate, a Florida megachurch pastor.

And finally, John Hagee, the "spiritual advisor that McCain dumped when researcher Bruce Wilson produced videotapes of Hagee saying God used Hitler to teach Jews a lesson- well, he will be at Palin’s church in Juneau in March 2009.