North to Alaska: Focus on the Family's Conference on Homosexuality

September 2008
With John McCain's presidential campaign keeping tight control over media access to Sarah Palin, she has yet to face probing questions from journalists. So droves of Americans are likely to tune in as anchor Charles Gibson of ABC News interviews the Alaska governor in her home state tonight. It is anyone's guess as to what Gibson might ask, given the hyper-speculation that has surrounded McCain's superstar-from-nowhere Republican running mate. Some people want Palin to answer questions about gays and lesbians. Like, for example, "Governor Palin, do you support Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference, which will take place in Anchorage this Saturday?" Without Palin saying a word, the answer appears to be "yes." After all Wasilla Bible Church, Palin's faith community, is promoting the conference, which figures into plans to cure gays and lesbians who "struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions." And Focus patriarch James Dobson had publicly expressed distaste for McCain until Palin, who firmly opposes abortion, was added to the ticket. According to the Wasilla church's bulletin, the one-day conference, which will be held 42 miles away at the Abbot Loop Community Church in Anchorage, is meant to show churchgoers how to deal with homosexuality in a "Christ-like way" while responding to "misinformation in our culture" and upholding "biblical beliefs with grace and understanding." According to a Love Won Out agenda, topics include:
  • "The ‘Gaying' of America," a multi-media presentation that "reveals the motives behind gay activists' profound impact on western culture"
  • Personal testimonies by formerly homosexual men and women
  • The "pro-gay agenda" in public schools and how to counter it
It's unclear whether Palin agrees wholeheartedly with such topics. That's why Truth Wins Out, a group opposed to the evangelical "ex-gay" movement, issued a statement urging Palin to speak up. The organization's executive director, Wayne Besen, said Palin should let voters know whether she "supports the goals of Focus on the Family's divisive anti-gay conference." The "ex-gay" movement is highly controversial, and its latest icon was Colorado Springs pastor Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and head of New Life Church. He resigned after a male prostitute claimed a sexual relationship, and then months later reemerged as "cured" following secretive therapy sessions (see "Where Grace Abounds" by John Dicker for 5280).