The Washington Times - August 29, 2008, 03:24PM

     If Sarah Palin and John McCain win this November, she’d surpass John Ashcroft in terms of being the nation’s most famous Pentecostal. She is a member of the Assemblies of God, one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups along with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Roman Catholics.

    When my father, a Coast Guard admiral, got orders to Alaska in 1978, I got to go to Juneau where I was amazed at the huge numbers of religious TV stations available; far more than in, say, Seattle or Portland. The Assemblies is really strong in Alaska and is No. 7 in the country in terms of percentage (1.6 percent) of the state’s population it claims. Its web site claims 11,242 adherents which may not sound like much but getting to church at all can be a real feat in a state with weather conditions like Alaska’s. The Pacific Northwest is traditionally less churched than other parts of the country but Alaska is quite different: a state first missionized by the Russian Orthodox and now a hospitable place for pentecostal denominations such as the Four Square churches and Assemblies of God.

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    The emails and press releases are pouring in now from delighted religious and conservative groups: Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, the Susan B. Anthony List, Life Issues Institute, Fidelis and more. Nearly all have noted something that did not come up in her acceptance speech: Now her newborn son, Trig, was  diagnoses in the womb as having Downs Syndrome. Although 80 percent of such children are aborted, the Alaska governor kept her child, which has won her undying gratitude from pro-lifers everywhere.

    So it’s Joe Biden, the liberal Catholic vs Sarah Polin, the “God-fearing, gun-totting former beauty queen” as one account describes her. What a great fall this will be.

— Julia Duin, assistant national editor/religion, The Washington Times