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A task from God

I will be covering this weekend's Values Voter Summit, so I was on a plane to DC during ABC's highly anticipated interview with Sarah Palin tonight.

So far, it looks like this was the main religion exchange:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said – first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.

But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side.

That's what that comment was all about, Charlie. And I do believe, though, that this war against extreme Islamic terrorists is the right thing. It's an unfortunate thing, because war is hell and I hate war, and, Charlie, today is the day that I send my first born, my son, my teenage son overseas with his Stryker brigade, 4,000 other wonderful American men and women, to fight for our country, for democracy, for our freedoms.

Charlie, those are freedoms that too many of us just take for granted. I hate war and I want to see war ended. We end war when we see victory, and we do see victory in sight in Iraq.

GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln's words, but you went on and said, "There is a plan and it is God's plan."

PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That, in my world view, is a grand – the grand plan.

GIBSON: But then are you sending your son on a task that is from God?

PALIN: I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie. What I know is that my son has made a decision. I am so proud of his independent and strong decision he has made, what he decided to do and serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer.

Melissa Rogers has more questions for Palin:

The other question I think she must answer regarding her talk at Wasilla Assembly of God flows from these remarks:

[Palin] said the state needed more than just economic development.

"Really, all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God," she said. "Your job is going to be to be out there reaching the people - hurting people - throughout Alaska and we can work together to make sure God's will be done here."

What does Palin mean by this, and how do her beliefs affect her public service? Does she think it appropriate, for example, for the government to promote (with its funds or otherwise) conversion or adherence to a particular faith or to some religion? Or is Palin saying that encouraging religious devotion is not the job of government but rather the job of the church?

Either way, does she regard public service as useless if the people being served are not "right with God"? If elected vice president, would she treat (and ensure that other governmental officials treat) people of all faiths and none as citizens of equal value? If so, how would she make good on that commitment?

Update: GetReligion's Mollie takes Gibson to task for his question. I'm hoping that we can just hear simple ABC questions about her faith.

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