"Palin's Church Promotes Conversion of Gays," blares the headline for a September 7 Associated Press article noting that the Alaska governor's home church is supporting Focus on the Family's "Love Won Out" conference.
Of course as with much of the media's reporting on religion, AP's article is weighed in the balance and found lacking. It's downright misleading and factually inaccurate, betraying a complete ignorance of evangelical Christian theology (emphasis mine):
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 for about six years.
Let's back up a minute. That quote in the Wasilla Bible Church bulletin is taken from the Web site for Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conferences. But does the conference really "[promise] to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer"? Far from it.
A visit to the Love Won Out Web site finds the only promise it offers is that people struggling to overcome homosexual or lesbian desire through faith will face "a difficult path," albeit one that need not be a lonely one (emphasis mine):
[frequently asked question:] But your goal is still to make gays straight, right?
[Answer:] That is a gross and narrow oversimplification. We aren't here to "make" anybody do or become anything; we are here to offer a scientific and experiential perspective on the issue of homosexuality that is, sadly, underreported in the mainstream media. Our goals include aiding parents who want to learn how to better love their sons or daughters without compromising their faith; helping people who want to better understand the many factors that can lead to someone adopting a homosexual identity; and assisting those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions and want to discover how they might also start upon the path - a difficult path, as noted above - to overcoming those desires.
As far as the notion that Palin's church aims to "convert" homosexuals to heterosexuals grossly misrepresents the tenets of faith of the governor's congregation. If the AP reviewed Wasilla Bible's Statement of Faith, they'd get that (emphases mine) Wasilla Bible believes in reaching everyone with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that it's the work of God's Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian that enables him/her to overcome sexual and other sins:
4. We believe that based upon Christ's death for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. We believe that all people are lost and without God in their natural state; but by the grace of God those who exercise genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are saved - justified, baptized into his death and born again, from above, by the Holy Spirit.
Jn 1:12,13; 3:1-21; Rom 3:23,24; Eph 2:8,9; 1 Pet 1:23
5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit. By His indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life, and is spiritually gifted for ministry to others.
Acts 2:1-4; 17-21 (cf.Joel 2:28-30); 1 Cor 6:19,20;12:7[...]
8. We believe in our responsibility to be disciples of Christ, to love all people and to fulfill the Commission of Christ to go and make disciples of all nations by bearing witness of Christ through life and word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lk 9:23-26; Mt 22:36-40; 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rom 1:16