Here's the final part of Julian Lukins' cover story "The Faith of Sarah Palin" in the January 2009 Charisma Magazine:
A Bright Future
Palin certainly needed prayer warriors during the grueling months leading up to Election Day. She was vilified by angry abortion activists (one blogger wrote that Palin's son Trig probably wished he had been aborted), and voters criticized her for using GOP funds to buy a $150,000 campaign wardrobe.
She was also torpedoed by journalists. The New York Times admitted after the election that a report of Palin's alleged ignorance of African geography was traced to a policy adviser who does not exist.
Many voters turned against Palin because of her pro-life stance, her eagerness to drill for Alaskan oil or her embarrassing interview in September with Katie Couric of CBS. Some evangelical leaders also opposed her, including theologian John Piper—who chastised Palin because he believed she neglected her domestic role.
The question in the minds of millions today is obvious: Where is Palin's political career headed? For now she will remain Alaska's governor, but her name has been floated as a possible GOP nominee for president in 2012. She had considered running in a special election to replace U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska—who was convicted of ethics violations—but he was defeated by his Democratic opponent.
Biographer Joe Hilley says Palin's faith is intertwined with every aspect of her life—so her faith will determine her future.
"[Palin's] commitment to Christ forms the core of what I refer to as her moral center," says Hilley, author of Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader (Zondervan). "Around that core are three basic beliefs: the authority of Scripture, a clear sense of justice and an unavoidable ethic of personal responsibility."
Hilley told Charisma that Palin's relationship with Jesus is an integral part of who she is. "One could not adequately define her commitment to Christ without including family and politics, nor could one define her political life without including her relationship to God," he says.
Moreover, some black and Hispanic Charismatic leaders say Palin's passionate faith appeals to minorities in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.
"It's huge," says Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of the 3,000-member Hope Christian Church near Washington, D.C. "[Palin's rise] marks the fact that Charismatics have become mainstream." And even though McCain lost the election, Palin's candidacy was "a watershed moment for our movement," Jackson adds.
California-based Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told Charisma: "Hispanic Pentecostals are excited about Palin. ... She resonates with us. She understands what it is to have a Charismatic experience."
Describing Palin as a "kindred spirit," Rodriguez says many Hispanics identified with the news that Palin's 17-year-old unmarried daughter was pregnant. "We understood her journey," Rodriguez says. "We identify with what she's going through."
Palin herself told journalists after the election that she's looking for divine direction. In an interview with Larry King on CNN in November, she said her life is in God's hands.
"If He's got open doors for me that I believe are in our state's best interest, the nation's best interest, I'm going to go through those doors."
Certainly, those who know Palin best believe she has the resolve—and the faith—to go as far as God ordains.
Julian Lukins is a writer based in Sequim, Washington, and a former daily newspaper reporter in the U.K.