The AP Really Ought to Go to Sunday School

When I was a kid there was a song we sang in Sunday School called, "Everybody Ought to Go to Sunday School." If I could find something to rhyme with "Associated Press reporters," I could probably write a new verse.

Reporting yet another story involving Gov. Sarah Palin's former church, the AP continued its attempts to paint Palin as a closet Pentecostal, as well as to hint that Pentecostals are wacky, far afield from the mainstream of Christian theology.

Anchorage-based AP reporter Garance Burke devoted a September 25 article to a newly surfaced YouTube video purportedly showing Palin being prayed over by a Kenyan preacher who asked God to protect Palin from all manner of evil, including witchcraft.

Burke went on to characterize the Pentecostal church Palin used to attend as simultaneously "conservative" in biblical teaching and yet outside orthodox Christian belief:

Pentecostals are conservative in their reading of the Bible. Unlike most other Christians — including most evangelicals — Pentecostals believe in "baptism in the Holy Spirit." That can manifest itself through speaking in tongues, modern-day prophesy and faith healing, which includes the laying on of hands.

While not all Christians believe in the continuation of spiritual gifts such as prophesy or speaking in tongues, all Christians believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit -- all four gospel accounts describe Jesus as the one who baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit -- it's just a question of how that baptism is defined.

Burke need only check for a book giving five different perspectives -- including Pentecostal, Catholic, and Reformed/Presbyterian traditions -- on what baptism in the Holy Spirit entails and how it applies to Christians today.

To be sure there are secondary issues of theology on which Pentecostals and non-Pentecostal Christians disagree, but the Associated Press seems unable or unwilling to distinguish those matters from the common ground of orthodox Christian belief that Pentecostals share with other Bible-believing Christians.

Campaign Watch Religion Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential Christianity Anti-Religious Bias Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Garance Burke Sarah Palin

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