"Mary Ellen told me that Palin asked her directly to remove these books from the shelves," Stuart said. "She refused."
Asked later if the first book could have been Pastor, I am Gay, a controversial book written by a pastor who lives just outside Wasilla, Stuart said that was it.
Howard Bess, author of Pastor, I am Gay and former pastor of Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, recalls that his book challenging Christians to re-examine their ideas about and prejudices against gays and lesbians was not well received in Wasilla when it was published in 1995 -- the year before Palin was elected mayor.
Virtually every book store in Wasilla refused to sell it.
Bess said he gave two copies to the Wasilla Library, but they quickly disappeared. So he donated more copies.
The controversy over the book was part of the context of that time period, he said. "Knowing Sarah's religious connections and the people involved, I would be surprised if my book was not one of those at issue," Bess said. "But I don't know that for a fact."
Excerpt from a Politifact review of the Sarah Palin library censorship controversy. The Republican Vice Presidential candidate is said to have inquired about removing books from the Wasilla, Alaska library when she was mayor there. (Politifact / St Petersburg Times / CQ) It is reported that Mayor Palin then fired the library director, Mary Ellen Emmons Baker, who said at that time she would not cooperate with censorship efforts, but who now refuses to revisit the issue with reporters today. [video] (ABC News) Part of the facts of the controversy are based on a 1996 article by reporter Paul Stuart for the Frontiersman. (Frontiersman)
Assembly of God ministers are well-known in Wasilla for taking strong positions on moral issues, including this recent sermon by the current pastor: "Everybody in the world has a guilty conscience. That's why homosexuals wants laws of the land to justify their sin because they have a guilty conscience."
Around the time Palin became mayor, the church and other conservative Christians began to focus on certain books available in local stores and in the town library, including one called 'Go Ask Alice,' and another written by a local pastor, Howard Bess, called 'Pastor, I Am Gay'
Transcript of an ABC News video segment that examins the Sarah Palin library censorship issue. (ABC News)