Palin’s Pentecostal witch hunter

PALIN’S PENTECOSTAL WITCH HUNTER…. A few weeks ago, the McCain campaign told CNN that Sarah Palin “doesn’t consider herself Pentecostal.” That seems a little hard to believe right now.

This rather striking video resurfaced yesterday of Palin at her former church, where her witch-obsessed pastor laid hands on her. “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, every form of witchcraft is what we rebuke in the name of Jesus,” the pastor says in the video from 2005.

Just to clarify, the pastor’s interest in witches and witch hunts is not metaphorical — he means it literally.

Last night, reporting on the video, Keith Olbermann posed this question: “If you had a story, with videotape, of a pastor from Kenya, who got his start in witch-hunting, laying his hands on a candidate, and the candidate’s last name was, just to pick one at random, ‘Obama,’ what would be happening right now?”

Andrew Sullivan, who tends to be more comfortable with religion in politics than I am, added, “Even I am a little shocked by this video from Palin’s church. Asking God to protect her from witchcraft?”

Stepping back, people will, of course, draw their own conclusions about a national candidate who is (or was) a practicing Pentecostal, attending a church where people speak in tongues, where the pastor seems preoccupied with witches. Voters’ comfort levels will vary, and I’m still inclined to think politicians’ spiritual beliefs, whether part of the mainstream or not, are a personal matter.

I do, however, have two unresolved questions. First, does she believe in the separation of church and state, and is she comfortable with a government that remains entirely neutral on matters of faith? And second, does she believe public officials should use religious beliefs to shape public policy? Palin recently said those fighting the war in Iraq are “out on a task that is from God,” and added, in the same remarks, that “God’s will” was responsible for a national gas pipeline project in Alaska.

Might she be willing to elaborate on what this means?

Update: Sullivan also notes that Palin’s pastor had some interesting things to say about “the Israelites.”