Palin's Prayer: Former Alaska governor gives religious testimony
byGalen Holley | NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo City Council President Fred Pitts presents Sarah Palin with a key to the city after her speech at the Extraordinary Women Conference on Saturday. It was held at the BancorpSouth Arena. (C. TODD SHERMAN | DAILY JOURNAL)
Extraordinary Women Conference attendees cheer as Sarah Palin takes the stage to speak. (C. TODD SHERMAN | DAILY JOURNAL)
TUPELO - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin arrived in Tupelo in blue suede shoes, much to the delight of an estimated 6,500 fans.
Palin wasted no time Saturday at the BancorpSouth Arena invoking the name of Tupelo's native son, Elvis, as she began her hour-long speech that mingled personal religious testimony with political and social commentary.
"This (Elvis') story is an all-American story that shows you anything is possible and you never know where you'll end up in this blessed land," Palin said.
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee took the stage at 3 p.m. as the keynote speaker for the Extraordinary Women Conference, an event that began Friday evening and featured various Christian female authors and speakers.
Women young and old hurried forward to snap photographs as Palin stood on a stage awash in pink and blue light.
Palin told of giving her life to Christ at a Bible camp when she was a girl. Her perspective on world affairs changed, she said, when she became a mother, a point she teased out in a speech delivered to almost all women.
She was reminded of scripture, Palin said, upon learning at age 44 that she was pregnant with her son, Trig.
"I laughed. I remember another Sarah who laughed, too," Palin said, referring Genesis 18:12, where the wife of Abraham laughs at the suggestion that she will have a child in her old age.
With clenched fists, an impassioned Palin said abortion is a great evil and that children, like Trig, who was born with Down syndrome, remind society how to be compassionate and loving.
Tupelo was one of only four stops on the nationwide Extraordinary Women tour at which Palin will speak. Organizers said they chose the All-America City because Palin's appeal among conservatives in the area remains strong, even though she announced earlier this month she would not seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The atmosphere at the BancorpSouth Arena was palpably feminine. Shanna Berryhill made the drive over from Pope to enjoy the company of other Christian ladies.
"It's a spiritual rest," said Berryhill, who's husband and two kids gave her the afternoon off. "It really ignites my heart for God," she said shortly before Palin took the stage.
Palin repeatedly emphasized that the United States is a Christian nation, one based on "God-fearing, Judeo-Christian principles."
"We cannot retreat, ladies. We have to reload with truth," Palin said to thunderous applause, drawing a parallel between the Tea Party movement and the salt and light of which Jesus speaks in Matthew 5.
Lori Zustiak of Nashville sat rocking her young son near the entrance to the arena as Palin finished on stage.
"Governor Palin is just very inspiring," Zustiak said. "She reminds us of what America used to be."
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