This election season has already seen Barack Obama repudiate his pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, for his controversial views. Sarah Palin, John McCain’s newly-minted running mate, may soon be considering doing the same.
Palin's pastor, Larry Kroon, invited the founder of Jews for Jesus, David Brickner, to speak at her church on August 17th, Politico's Ben Smith reported. According to its mission statement, Jews for Jesus is an organization that tries: "to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide."
Palin and her family were present in the church for Brickner's sermon, the full text of which can be found here. In the sermon, he made a number of inflammatory claims, most particularly about terrorist attacks in Israel. "Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It’s very real," he opined. Speaking of his son, who had recently been in Jerusalem, he said: "When Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment -- you can't miss it."
The McCain campaign has denied that Sarah Palin or her family support Brickner’s views. Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic's Daily Dish quoted one of the campaign's spokesmen, Michael Goldfarb, saying that: "Governor Palin does not share the views he expressed, and she and her family would not have been sitting in the pews of this church for the last seven years if his remarks were even remotely typical." But according to Larry Kroon's introduction to the sermon, Brickner, who also spoke at the church four years ago, was influential in his decision to become a pastor.
John McCain has long been perceived by voters as friend to Israel, in no small part because he enjoys the support of Senator Joseph Lieberman, one of Israel's more vocal champions on the national scene. Palin's pastor problem could weaken that perception.
Jews for Jesus now has a statement on its homepage claiming Brickner's "statements regarding God's judgment have been published out of context in a way that we feel is misleading. David holds the traditional evangelical belief that God judges all people for sin, and that Jesus is the solution for the sins of everyone who will repent and receive God's gracious forgiveness."