John McCain's running mate was raised in a Pentecostal church (Assemblies of God), has called herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be" and already has energized conservative religious leaders who worried the Arizona senator would choose an abortion rights supporter.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is "straight out of veep central casting," said Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religion Liberties Commission. Land said he urged the McCain camp to consider the political unknown.
Gary Bauer, one of McCain's most enthusiastic evangelical supporters, called it a "grand slam home run" that is "guaranteed to energize values voters."
The 44-year-old mother of five, who led her high school chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was baptized as a teenager at the Wasilla Assembly of God Church, where she and her family were very active, according to her then-pastor, Paul Riley.
Now, she sometimes worships at the Juneau Christian Center, which is also part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, said Brad Kesler, business administrator of the denomination's Alaska District. But her home church is The Church on the Rock, an independent congregation, Riley said.
"The church was kind of a foundation for her," said Riley, who said he gave the invocation at Palin's inauguration and had her address students at the church last month.
Palin and her family have gone the way of so many Christians in North America, moving from the denominational church to the independent Pentecostal congregation.
However, Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said "Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal."
Is the campaign trying to avoid liberal anti-pentecostal attacks?
As a politician, Palin has sided with the majority evangelical view in opposing gay marriage and expressing a desire to see creationism discussed alongside evolution in schools.
"It's an absolutely brilliant choice," said Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. "This will absolutely energize McCain's campaign and energize conservatives."
[AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll contributed to this report.]