11/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sarah Palin Who's "Palling Around" With Whom?

All you need to know about Palin is that she's been hanging around, might I say "palling around," with the Alaska secessionist movement. She keeps going to their annual conventions and addressing them. She even sent a friendly video message one year she couldn't be there in person. And this is very recent and ongoing, not something that happened many years ago, say when she was eight years old. And this is the person that Senator John McCain unleashed on the country that he says (again and again... and again) he's always "put first."

Palin's secessionist friends are in a group founded by a man who said that he hated the United States, the American government and the American flag in that order. (See several excellent instigative reports on Sarah Palin and her political ties by Max Blumenthal at

These are people with strong ties to dozens of other bizarre little organizations in the southern states full of folks driving around and pickup trucks festooned with Confederate flags and vowing they'd be better off outside of the Union. These are the people who sometimes claim that the UN is sending helicopters to spy on them. These are the men and women who don't trust mainstream anything, and have developed a whole alternative world (schools, home schools, publishing, radio, TV, newsletters, organizations, churches...) where they never have to confront facts let alone identify themselves as Americans first.

On top of this, Palin comes from a 20-year plus Association with the radical fringe of the lunatic fringe of American religion: the Assemblies of God denomination. Even in most Evangelical circles, where, up until the mid 1980s I spent my whole life as an evangelical leader and life-long Republican (see my book CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back ) Palin's denomination is regarded as "out there." Palin's church saw fit to bring a "professional" exorcist in to cast out demons and "witches" and "uphold" Palin that she might vanquish all those witches who stood in her way (I'm not kidding!). She received his blessing, her arms upheld in prayer.

Once in a while the mask slips as to just how far right and how fringe the McCain machine has tilted post-Palin. A minister who gave the invocation at a McCain rally in Iowa prayed this: God's reputation is at stake in this election, he said, because Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists around the world are praying for an Obama victory. "If Obama wins, they'll think their god is bigger than the Christian God."

What you have to understand about Palin and the subculture she represents -- all those people yelling and screaming hate-filled messages at her rallies and claiming that they think Obama is "a Arab" etc., -- is that many of them have already seceded from the United States of America, at least in their minds. They see themselves as a "faithful remnant" of God's Kingdom forced to live here in sinful America with the unwashed mob od sinners for a little while longer until Jesus raptures them all back to heaven where they really belong.

In their minds not only United States government but the pluralistic tolerant United States itself, is God's enemy. In their version of a perfect world there would be no gays, no art, no literature... in fact, no anything that raised questions or doubts about the only game in town: forcing the narrowest, most ugly and intolerant and version of religion an anyone desperate enough to join their groups.

McCain has given us a vice presidential candidate who, in the best of all her imagined world's, would be presiding over a new country called Alaska that had seceded from the United States, with libraries in which books she didn't like were banned, where state employees had to get (and stay!) in good with her family or get fired, where exorcists were imported to sniff out witches and where a good time can be had by all when "drill baby drill" is temporarily interrupted for cross continental snowmobile races, further fouling the atmosphere.

Palin wants to be a heartbeat from the American presidency, running a country that her friends openly want to leave, freinds she's never rebuked, rather that she spoke to at their meetings. Palin makes a big point off wrapping herself in the flag. If her friends have their way there will be one less star on it.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. Now in paperback.