There are creationists and creationists. One of those creationists (which one?) wants to be just a 72 year old’s cardiac arrhythmia away from being President of the United States. It would be historic, although more historic for the rest of us than for the potentially almost President, Governor Sarah Palin, because her notion of the length of historical record is so much shorter. Like many Pentecostals, Governor Palin is said to be a Young Earth Creationist, someone who thinks the earth is only 7 thousand years old and that humans walked alongside dinosaurs. At least that’s what one of her fellow townsmen says. Governor Palin has yet to declare her version of geologic chronology. Until she does, this is what we have to go on, and it’s pretty plausible she would believe this:
Another valley activist, Philip Munger, says that Palin also helped push the evangelical drive to take over the Mat-Su Borough school board. “She wanted to get people who believed in creationism on the board,” said Munger, a music composer and teacher. “I bumped into her once after my band played at a graduation ceremony at the Assembly of God. I said, ‘Sarah, how can you believe in creationism — your father’s a science teacher.’ And she said, ‘We don’t have to agree on everything.’
“I pushed her on the earth’s creation, whether it was really less than 7,000 years old and whether dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. And she said yes, she’d seen images somewhere of dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them.” (scibling Ed Brayton, Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
Governor Palin’s private religious beliefs are none of my business. Unless, as Chief Executive of the government these beliefs influence policy, and since I am a scientist and this is a science blog that’s a pretty big “unless.” And it’s worth observing that Governor Palin is proud to number among those she admires most people who are not even examples of 18th century rationalism, much less 21st century science. People like the preacher Thomas Muthee:
Pastor Muthee founded the Prayer Cave in 1989 in Kiambu, Kenya after “God spoke” to him and his late wife Margaret and called him to the country, according to the church’s website.
The pastor speaks of his offensive against a demonic presence in the town in a trailer for the evangelical video “Transformations”, made by Sentinel Group, a Christian research and information agency.
“We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place,” Pastor Muthee says.
After the spirit was broken, the crime rate dropped to almost zero and there was “explosive church growth” while almost every bar in the town closed down, the video says.
The full Transformations video featuring Pastor Muthee’s story has recently been removed from YouTube but the rest of the story is detailed in a 1999 article in the Christian Science Monitor, as well as on numerous evangelical websites.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a “divination” centre called the Emmanuel Clinic.
Her alleged involvement in fortune-telling and the fact that she lived near the site of a number of fatal car accidents led Pastor Muthee to publicly declare her a witch responsible for the town’s ills, and order her to offer her up her soul for salvation or leave Kiambu.
Says the Monitor, “Muthee held a crusade that “brought about 200 people to Christ”.” They set up round-the-clock prayer intercession in the basement of a grocery store and eventually, says the pastor “the demonic influence – the ‘principality’ over Kiambu -was broken”, and Mama Jane fled the town.
According to accounts of the witchhunt circulated on evangelical websites such as Prayer Links Ministries, after Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon.
After Mama Jane was questioned by police – and released – she decided it was time to leave town, the account says.
Pastor Muthee has frequently referred to this witchhunt in his sermons as an example of the power of “spiritual warfare”. In October 2005, he delivered ten sermons at the Wasilla Assembly of God, the audio of which was available on the church’s website until it was removed around the time Mrs Palin’s candidacy was announced. The blog Irregular Times has listings and screen grabs of the sermons. (Times Online)
(That’s the kind version. For a less generous version, see here).
Pastor Muthee is a favorite at Palin’s Assembly of God church in Wasilla. He has preached there ten times and is scheduled to return later in the month. He is also a favorite of Governor Palin’s. Here’s the clip:
I’ll say this much for the Governor. She’s way, way ahead of a lot of us. Just about everything about that worship service freaks me out. Maybe it’s just because I’m a scientist.
Or maybe it’s just because it’s the 21st century and a potential President who admires a pastor who persecutes witches and who herself reportedly thinks the earth is less than 7000 years old seems a bit, well, dangerous?