Sarah Palin: Religion in Politics

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In this, the second of four videos by the Wasilla Project, we are covering Sarah Palin's background as a social conservative, and how she has used her religious affiliation to advance her political career.

In 1996, when Sarah Palin first ran first mayor of Wasilla, she brought new elements into the race that her townspeople had never experienced before. The position of mayor in Wasilla had traditionally been secular and non-partisan, and she ran a campaign that featured both her fundamentalist Christianity and her opposition to abortion. Many observers felt that they were unusual issues for small town politics, but they proved successful in the conservative climate of the times. Sarah Palin beat her opponent John Stein by more than 200 votes. The final tally was 617-413. Palin’s fundamentalist church affected the community in other ways as well, such as taking over the local hospital board and banning abortions. The ban was challenged in lower courts and when the hospital appealed to the Alaskan Supreme Court, their ban was denied in a landmark decision that made national news at the time.

In this film you’ll see the following people from interviews we conducted September 26th-28th, 2008:

- Anne Kilkenney, Wasilla resident. Anne's letter about Sarah Palin to friends and family became a viral sensation after Palin's nomination as Vice President by McCain.
- Victoria Naegle, former editor, The Frontiersman. Victoria was a key observer of Palin in her first 2 years as mayor. The Frontiersman had a contentious relationship with Palin in the first 6 months of her time as mayor.
- Dianne Woodruff, Wasilla City Councilwoman. As a member of the Wasilla city council, she's witnessed the social and financial aftermath of Palin's terms as mayor.
-Howard Bess, Baptist Minister and Mat-Su Valley resident. He and Dr. Susan Lemagie fought to keep abortion safe and legal in the Mat-Su valley where Wasilla is located. They eventually won a landmark case in the Alaskan Supreme Court against the hospital board that Palin had helped to get elected.
-Geran Tarr, Chair Alaska Women’s Lobby. Geran has had first hand experiences in supporting women in Alaska.

We feel that with an issue as controversial and important as this one, the more information people have about this issue, the better. Below are resources that may be helpful in order to better understand the issues we raise in our video. We look forward to your comments and ideas. Thank you for watching!
New York Times Article on Palin's Time as Mayor
Article in Salon on Pastor Howard Bess
Anne Kilkenny's Letter
News & Politics
Anne Kilkenny, Sarah Palin, Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Dianne Woodruff, Victoria Naegele, The Frontiersman, Howard Bess, Geran Tarr, Abortion, Pro-choice, Pro-Life, Reproductive health, Women's Rights

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