ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Gov. Sarah Palin's church is promoting a conference that promises to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer.
"You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality," according to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed since she was a child.
Palin's conservative Christian views have energized that part of the GOP electorate, which was lukewarm to John McCain's candidacy before he named her as his vice presidential choice. She is staunchly anti-abortion, opposing exceptions for rape and incest, and opposes gay marriage and spousal rights for gay couples.
Focus on the Family, a national Christian fundamentalist organization, has scheduled the "Love Won Out" Conference for Sept. 13 in Anchorage, about 30 miles from Wasilla.
Palin, campaigning with McCain in the Midwest on Friday, has not publicly expressed a view on the so-called "pray away the gay" movement. Larry Kroon, senior pastor at Palin's church, was not available to discuss the matter Friday, said a church worker who declined to give her name.
As usual, facts don't seem to matter to the media. For one thing, Governor Palin and her family have only been part of the church since 2002.
For another, the AP seems shocked, shocked that Governor Palin's church would actually be teaching what the Bible says.
Also, they totally mischaracterize the nature of the conference. According to the questions page on the conference website they don't "cure" gays.
Are you here to "cure" gays?
Absolutely not. The only time you’ll ever hear the word “cure” used in relation to our event is by those who oppose Love Won Out. They also like to claim we want to “fix” or “convert” gays and lesbians and that we believe people can “pray away the gay.” Such glib characterizations ignore the complex series of factors that can lead to same-sex attractions; they also mischaracterize our mission. We exist to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. It is not easy, but it is possible, as evidenced by the thousands of men and women who have walked this difficult road successfully.
In typical fashion, the AP distorts not only the role of the church in promoting the conference but also the nature of the conference itself. It also describes Focus on the Family as a "fundamentalist" organization. And it's kind of ironic that the "pray away the gay" talking point cited on the website ended up in the text of the AP story.
But the bigger question is why this is even a story? How is it that Governor Palin's church gets raked over the coals for including a promotional insert in a church bulletin while, say, Senator Obama's church escapes any real scrunity when his pastor of twenty years has been caught on video preaching hate from the pulpit? If candidates' churches are now fair game to media scrutiny then why not subject each candidate's church to the same level of scrutiny?
I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.