Sarah Palin's Church Burns In Arson Attack, Palin And Associated Press Suggest Gay Involvement
Sarah Palin's church in Wasilla, Alaska suffered an estimated $1M in damage from an arson-related fire yesterday. In the Associated Press' account of the incident, their reporter connected the fire to outrage about the church's hosting of an "ex-gay" conference after Palin told the press that she was sorry if the crime was related to "undeserved negative attention" the church got during her campaign.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's home church was badly damaged by arson, leading the governor to apologize Saturday if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" from her campaign as the Republican vice presidential nominee. Damage to the Wasilla Bible Church was estimated at $1 million, authorities said. No one was injured in the fire, which was set Friday night while a handful of people, including two children, were inside, according to James Steele, the Central Mat-Su fire chief.Commenters on right-wing sites such at Townhall and Free Republic are blaming a gay person for the fire, despite the statement from Wasilla's fire chief that he presently has no clues to the identity of the culprit. Palin's church was picketed about the "ex-gay" conference, but also experienced widespread ridicule over its pastor's belief in the existence in witchcraft.
He said the blaze was being investigated as an arson. Steele said he didn't know of any recent threats to the church, and authorities did not know whether Palin's connection to the church was relevant to the fire. "It's hard to say at this point. Everything is just speculation," he said. Pastor Larry Kroon declined to say whether the church had received any recent threats.
Palin was not at the church at the time of the fire. She stopped by Saturday, and her spokesman Bill McAllister said in a statement that the governor told an assistant pastor she was sorry if the fire was connected to the "undeserved negative attention" the church has received since she became the vice presidential candidate Aug. 29. "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," McAllister said.
The 1,000-member evangelical church was the subject of intense scrutiny after Palin was named Sen. John McCain's running mate. The 1,000-member evangelical church was the subject of intense scrutiny after Palin was named Sen. John McCain's running mate. Early in Palin's campaign, the church was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Love Won Out conference in Anchorage sponsored by Focus on the Family. The conference promised to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome." The fire was set at the entrance of the church and moved inward as a small group of women worked on crafts, Steele said. The group was alerted to the blaze by a fire alarm.