Sarah Palin’s “ex-gay” church targeted in arson attack
The home church of Governor of Alaska and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin suffered an arson attack on Friday night.
The Wasilla Bible Church in Anchorage was set ablaze while a small group of people were inside, among them children.
No-one was injured but more than $1m (£647,000) of damage was caused.
Fire officers confirmed that the fire was started deliberately but said it was unclear if the attack was connected to Governor Palin, a Republican.
She visited the church the day after the fire. Her spokesman said later:
“Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the Governor has faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good.”
Her connection with the church became a campaign issue after she was chosen as John McCain’s running mate in September.
It emerged that Wasilla Bible Church had been advertising a conference that promises to “cure” gay people, organised by notorious fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family.
The group gave its backing to Governor Palin when it emerged her 17-year-old unmarried daughter was pregnant, just days after she accepted the nomination.
“You’ll be encouraged by the power of God’s love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality,” said the ad in the church’s bulletin.
Governor Palin’s nomination as Senator John McCain’s running mate was welcomed by conservatives.
She opposes gay marriage and abortion and supports the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution.
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She has attended services at Wasilla Bible Church for the past six years.
Her views on the so-called “ex-gay” movement are not known.
“Ex-gays” believe that through prayer and therapy the alteration of a person’s sexual orientation is possible.
This position is rejected by all US leading mental health professional groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.
Many people who go through the process end up not as functioning heterosexuals but as homosexuals pushed into mental breakdowns and/or other mental health problems.
Focus on the Family has worked against issues including gay civil rights and marriage equality.