Palin's pastors go On the Record with Greta Van Susteren; comments on Love Won Out

Greta Van Susteren has posted exclusive interviews with Sarah Palin’s pastors on the FOX News website. I am embedding them here. The first one is quite interesting in that Pastor Larry Kroon of Wasilla Bible Church discusses his decision to place the Love Won Out flyers in his church bulletin. He confirms that the LWO on September 14 is not in his church but in Anchorage. He also notes that his motivation was to have his congregation hear testimonies of people who wrestle with their Christian commitment and same-sex attraction. Clearly, Wayne Besen has done a good job of obscuring the LWO in the minds of the media when they ask about “praying away the gay.” In addition, as I noted in a post yesterday, I think LWO would help itself immensely by examining the way it markets LWO.
She then interviews Ed Kalnins, who pastors the Assembly of God church where the Palins attended prior to Wasilla Bible.
That the Palin moved from the AoG to the Bible church seems to me to represent a shift in viewpoint as these churches perspectives are quite different. Certain cardinal doctrines are the same but these are religious differences that may have little bearing on how one might govern. Some discussion on this point would be valuable. What political and/or policy ramifications might derive from these religious views?
Obama commented yesterday that there is no religious litmus test and that criticism of religious views is off limits. Now that he has spoken, do you suppose the media will lay off?

Love Won Out in Palin-country this weekend

In my efforts to track down information regarding the Covenant House story, this AP article got by me.
“Palin church promotes converting gays” begins:

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.

A couple of things should be pointed out. According to all reports, Wasilla Bible Church is not where Palin has prayed since she was a child. She just recently joined the Wasilla Bible Church, having left an Assembly of God church, possibly over some disagreements with AoG practices.
Some bloggers have said the LWO is being held at Palin’s church. It is not. The conference is being held September 13 at the Abbott Loop Community Church in Anchorage. Instead, Palin’s church announced the conference to church goers.
I think the language Focus uses to communicate Love Won Out can be confusing. While I suspect the emphasis for churches is more on conversion to Christianity than to heterosexuality, phrases like “overcoming homosexuality” and using the word “transform” make it sound like the conference will focus on changing gays into straights. While this has been emphasized more in past conferences and promotional material, I think there might less of this now. LWO used to have a slogan that included the idea that homosexuality was “preventable and treatable.” Now they say, “to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, we offer the Gospel hope that these desires can be overcome.”
This is a subtle shift from a treatment framework to a ministry framework. However, I understand why this is confusing to people. “Overcoming desires” to most people most likely still sounds like change from gay desires to straight desires. It could mean (and perhaps this is what Focus means) that the desires are there but the person does not act on them. Thus, a desire could be overcome by not actualizing it. The desire is still there but it has been managed.
While these issues are of great concern to those interested and involved in sexual identity ministry, they attain national significance infrequently (as they did in the Bush-Kerry presidential debate). However, the confusion over terms and phrasing now enters conversation over the beliefs of the Republican VP nominee. I advocate a much clearer portrayal of what Christianity offers. Conversion is a proper and historical focus of religion, but the question is, conversion from what to what? It seems to me that sexual identity ministries should work overtime to make it clear what the answer is to that question.

Anne Kilkenny comments on the Sarah Palin book banning story

Well, she comments a little bit.
Anne Kilkenny is the Wasilla, AK resident who wrote a lengthy email to friends about Sarah Palin. The email has gone viral. has verified it and it is posted on the Anchorage Daily News website. Mrs. Kilkenny is a registered Democrat and appears to be in the 20% of Alaskans who do not approve of Palin’s work as Governor.
In her email, Mrs. Kilkenny said Sarah Palin tried to remove the town librarian, saying:

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

I wrote Mrs. Kilkenny to ask on what books she thought Palin wanted removed. Critics have protrayed this episode as censorship. On the other hand, it is possible that the books in question were inappropriate or books about which many people would disagree. Mrs. Kilkenny wrote back with what at first seemed like a canned email.

Hello, My name is Anne Kilkenny. I wrote a piece on Sarah Palin which is posted on the following website with my permission: I’m sorry that I cannot reply personally and directly to your email, but email is coming in faster than I can even read it. I applaud you for trying to verify the things that you receive before you send them around the internet. I have learned several things from this experience. #1) I’m impressed with how hard the press is working and how fast they have gotten up to speed on this very small town’s political history. The people in the regular media are doing a pretty doggone good job. The reports I’m reading in the newspapers and seeing on the major networks are as close to totally accurate as is reasonable to expect, given this imperfect world and the fact that everyone has had to go from zero to 60 in under 2 seconds, #2) How wonderful my fellow American are. People are NOT into the Karl Rovian politics of personal destruction. Americans are idealists; we desperately want to find someone to vote FOR and to believe in, and we keep looking for that perfect candidate.

It is hard to miss her clear political views here. I think her email regarding Palin should be read with this in mind. However, then she answers my questions about the books at issue.

I’m sorry I don’t know which books Sarah Palin wanted removed from the Wasilla Public Library collection. Censorship is censorship: what difference does it make which books? Over the years, City Librarians had selected books for the colletion [sic] based on standard professional guidelines. Thank you for taking your responsibilities as a citizen so seriously, Anne

A couple of observations here. Probably any lists which are being circulated on the web are not accurate. I do think it matters which books were at issue. I am not as trusting as Mrs. Kilkenny in the “standard professional guidelines” of librarians. Periodically, books are purchased which are not appropriate for kids and parents have valid concerns. Raising these concerns about what kids read is not censorship in my view, it is an effort to have a voice in establishing kid-friendly community standards.
Socially liberal and conservative people conflict over this matter frequently. Is it censorship to restrict sexually explicit movies to adults? Or is it proper guidance of youth? Knowing the books Palin was concerned about is quite relevant to charges of censorship.
UPDATE – 9/8/08
Charles Martin at Explorations continues to unearth lots of material regarding the Palin rumor. He has a link to this 1996 article reprinted in a local Wasilla, AK paper regarding the controversy over the library. I think this piece clears up most questions regarding the matter. She asked for no books to be banned, nor did she ask the librarian to engage in censorship.

Some light on Sarah Palin's church affiliation

Lots of rumors have been flying around about McCain’s VP pick, Sarah Palin and her family. In trying to understand her worldview, church affiliation has been of great interest. This seems understandable given the scrutiny given to Barack Obama’s pastor and the worldview espoused there.
Some are reporting that the family attends Charismatic or dominionist churches, but it appears that they attend a Bible church in Wasilla. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council said in a press release that the Palins told him the same thing at the Dayton, Ohio announcement of her VP selection. Peter Kirk at Gentle Wisdom gives a nice rundown of sources on this topic.
Here is some footage of Gov. Palin speaking at an Assembly of God church in Wasilla where she apparently attended as a child/teen. The Bible church she attends now would not be of similar views of charismatic gifts as would the Assembly church.
And then just released is this Newsweek feature on the Palin’s religious affilation…