Palin's Religion Energizing GOP Faithful

Palin's deep religious faith permeates both her personal and public life.

Sept. 9, 2008 — -- Gov. Sarah Palin is a devout Christian who has invoked "God's will" in her fight for a gas pipeline, but she has so far avoided imposing her evangelical views on public policy issues like abortion and teaching creationism in schools.

It is clear that her deep religious faith permeates both her personal and public life. She even preaches at times in her home church, the Wasilla Bible Church, a low-key congregation that sits on folding chairs in a large new church down a dirt road at the edge of town.

In Palin's sermons, she sees the hand of God guiding or endorsing public policy matters that range from the war in Iraq to economic development.

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right ... that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," Palin says in one video that has surfaced on the Internet.

The governor's major issue has been her battle to win public approval to build a pipeline that would carry natural gas to the lower 48 states. For Palin, it was a project that was blessed by more than just economists.

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people in companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she preached in church. "I can do my job, but really, all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God."

Palin's former pastor, the Rev. Tim McGraw, told CNN that Palin believes in a God who is in control.

"Since her view of the world includes a God that loves us and can be accessed by us, it would be logical for her to frame her world with that possibility in it," McGraw says.

Palin was raised in a Pentecostal church and was baptized as a teenager. Besides being a star athlete in high school and later a beauty pageant contestant, she also led her high school chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Her religious views have shaped her beliefs on such hot button issues as abortion, gay marriage and evolution. She is opposed to gay marriage and believes creationism should be taught in school.

Palin Favors Teaching Abstinence Over Sex Ed

Because of her belief that all life is sacred, she is opposed to abortion and she and her husband, Todd, went ahead with the birth of their infant son, Trig, earlier this year even after prenatal tests determined that the boy would be born with Down syndrome.

Palin also favors teaching sexual abstinence in schools instead of sex education. When the news broke earlier this month that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, supporters found a silver lining when she announced that her daughter and the young father of the child planned to marry.

But as governor, Palin has made no move to have her opposition to abortion or gay marriage become part of Alaska's public policy. And while she campaigned for governor saying she believed creationism should be taught in school, Palin has kept her promise to keep her hands off the state's education policy on teaching evolution.

She is now teamed with Sen. John McCain who has been reluctant to discuss his own religious beliefs and has tangled in the past with evangelical leaders. That testy history with the religious right had made evangelicals, who make up much of the Republican Party's base, wary of McCain.

They were alarmed when McCain floated the idea of picking a running mate who was in favor of abortion rights. They said it would prove disastrous for the party's turnout on Election Day.

But Palin's presence on the ticket has delighted the religious conservatives of the party and energized them, and may have restored much of the enthusiasm of the party's base.