Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican Senate candidate seeking to challenge Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2022, once wrote in support of an “ex-gay” Christian organization that promoted discredited “conversion therapy” and said that homosexuality was caused by “sexual molestation during childhood.”
In an article unearthed by CNN’s KFile, Tshibaka wrote that gay people can “work through the process of coming out of homosexuality” through Christianity and urged gay people to “not be controlled by the ‘once-gay-always-gay’ rhetoric used to advance political agendas” in a 2001 Harvard Law School student newspaper article.
In other blog posts found by KFile that have since been scrubbed from the internet, Tshibaka said that the “Twilight” book and movie series “is evil and we should not read or watch it” because “entertaining and participating in these kinds of activities leaves us spiritually vulnerable. It also leaves us open to the enemy’s attacks.”
Tshibaka, who was born and raised in Alaska, announced last month that she would run against incumbent Murkowski, a moderate Republican who has drawn ire from Republican circles for voting to convict former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment. Tshibaka is positioning herself as the pro-MAGA political outsider and has hired key Trump campaign alums.
Under Alaska’s new system, all candidates who qualify will run together in a nonpartisan primary, and the top four finishers will advance to the general election in which voters will then rank candidates.
Tshibaka’s campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment before publication on Tuesday, but they did respond after the story published.
Though much of her social media profiles were scrubbed before she announced her candidacy, screenshots and posts found by CNN’s KFile reveal that she spread baseless conspiracies about the 2020 election, alleging widespread voter fraud in key states, which has been disproven.
“Texas is suing 4 Swing States for unlawfully enacting last-minute changes to their election laws due to COVID, thereby skewing the results of the 2020 General Election. If TX prevails, Alaska’s 2020 election results can also be revisited: the AK Supreme Court changed election rules for absentee ballots after our voting had already begun,” she wrote in one screenshot, posted to Twitter by a user critical of her message.
“Imagine what this could mean for Proposition 2 (where absentee ballots tipped votes in favor of the jungle primary) and for certain State Legislature races? Alaska can throw out all absentee ballots without a signature witness, for example,” she continued.
And in an op-ed, Tshibaka called for “credible allegations of fraud, voter suppression, and voting irregularities” to be thoroughly investigated and resolved before a winner was declared, even though President Joe Biden was projected as the winner days earlier.
Tshibaka told CNN on Tuesday that “it’s only logical that we apply the same standards that Democrats established in the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections. Allegations regarding voting integrity should be investigated and fully examined.”
Earlier this month, Tshibaka said, “We don’t know the outcome of the 2020 election,” despite Biden’s victory in both the Electoral College and the popular vote. No evidence of widespread voter fraud has been proven.
Tshibaka urged gay people to ‘come out of homosexuality’ and wrote in support of an ‘ex-gay’ organization that promoted ‘conversion therapy’
Prior to launching her campaign, Tshibaka worked as a lawyer for the federal government in Washington, DC, for approximately 17 years in the offices of the inspector general for the US Postal Service, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.
She most recently served as the Alaska Department of Administration commissioner for two years but has since resigned to run for Senate.
While attending Harvard Law School in 2001, Tshibaka served on the staff of the Harvard Law Record, an independent student newspaper. She wrote several opinion pieces for the paper, including one in which she wrote that, as a conservative, she believes “there is no wall of separation between church and state” and another in which she argued for “retribution” following 9/11.
But her most controversial story that sparked backlash on campus came from an October 11, 2001, article entitled “The Right Side: Coming out of Homosexuality” under her maiden name, Kelly Hartline.
“Today is National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, a day dedicated to helping homosexuals overcome their sexual tendencies and move towards a healthy lifestyle. Compassionate people nationwide recognize this day, rather than the more publicized ‘National Coming Out Day,’ because they want people to live and enjoy their lives to the fullest,” she wrote.
Tshibaka urged gay people to “not be controlled by the ‘once-gay-always-gay-rhetoric’ used to advance political agendas” and said that gay people can instead “come out of homosexuality” with the help of Jesus Christ.
She repeatedly cited the work of Exodus International, a Christian nonprofit “ex gay” organization that maintained gay men and lesbians could change their sexual orientation through prayer and psychotherapy, an idea that has been debunked and discredited by major medical associations in the US.
In one passage, she included their bogus claim that “the most common cause of homosexuality is sexual molestation during childhood.” In another, she supported Exodus’ recommendations that gay people participate in “pastoral counseling, accountability groups, personal prayer and Bible studies.
Exodus International later renounced “conversion therapy” in 2012 and its leader apologized for the pain caused by their programs. The organization dissolved in 2013 after its leaders concluded they could not change a person’s sexual orientation through psychotherapy.
After the article received backlash on Harvard’s campus, Tshibaka apologized to readers.
“As to those I have offended, please accept my sincerest apologies. I did not intend to offend you, but simply discuss an alternative perspective,” she wrote.
On Tuesday, Tshibaka told CNN, “I strongly believe that we should treat all people with respect and dignity. The student article was assigned to me by an editor as a counterpoint piece about 20 years ago, and I don’t hold that point of view today.”
She added that while she personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman, “the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.”
Tshibaka has not yet answered direct questions about whether she believes in “conversion therapy” herself.
Tshibaka wrote blog posts calling the ‘Twilight’ series ‘evil’ and witchcraft ‘addictive’
While Tshibaka and her husband, Niki Tshibaka – both of whom are pastors – lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC, they co-founded an evangelical Foursquare church in Virginia. The Foursquare church is part of the Pentecostal Christian movement founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in the 1920s.
Pentecostalism is among the fastest growing religious movements in the world, according to the Pew Research Center, and its faith emphasizes the direct experience of the presence of God by the believer, which is often revealed to the believer through speaking in tongues or divine healing.
From 2007 to 2017, Tshibaka frequently wrote about her family, her church and her faith in her blog. In several posts found via the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine,” Tshibaka wrote about the dangers of witchcraft and the occult, specifically targeting the “Twilight” book and movie series. She called it “evil and we should not read or watch it.”
“Some say this book is harmless, that it promotes Christian values, and that it does not promote anything wicked at all. But Satan does not usually look repulsive, horrific, and evil on the outside,” she wrote in an October 2009 blog post.
“Make no mistake: ‘Twilight’ is a perfect example of how the enemy twists, perverts, and ridicules the things of God. This is his m.o. This is how he works,” Tshibaka added.
The “Twilight” series is seen by some observers to have multiple references to Mormonism and Christianity; its author, Stephenie Meyer, is a Mormon.
In another post, Tshibaka also made a connection between illicit drugs and witchcraft by writing about the etymology of the word “pharmacy.”
“There is a link between drugs and witchcraft. Our word ‘pharmacy,’ for example, comes from the Latin word pharmakon, which means ‘magic charm’ or ‘poison.’ Perhaps this explains why many people who have used illegal drugs experience demonic oppression,” she wrote, though she mistakenly says “pharmakon” comes from Latin. The origins of the word “pharmacy” come from pre-Greek languages.
She continued: “Perhaps this also explains why things of ‘witchcraft’ (see above) are so addictive — like a drug. And why God is so unwavering about people avoiding witchcraft, even to the point that He considers witchcraft to be an abomination.”
In a February 2013 blog post entitled “Witches Are Bad for Your Health,” Tshibaka cautioned people against consuming media that “incorporate, focus on, or glorify things like magic, witchcraft, vampires, or the occult.”
“Given how strongly the Bible speaks against these things and condemns those involved in them, and given how intoxicating and addicting these topics can be, it’s wise for believers to avoid them altogether,” she wrote, adding that though the Bible doesn’t prohibit consuming media, it says not everything is beneficial.
And in a June 2015 blog post, Tshibaka wrote about the “Charlie Charlie Challenge” popular with teenagers on social media at the time, in which users use a makeshift Ouija board. Tshibaka said the game could invite “evil spirits” and presents a “significant spiritual risk to those who play it and others who are around or exposed to it (e.g., an entire school).”
“Youth draw a quadrant on a sheet, place two intersecting pencils on top of each other, and then ask, ‘Charlie, Charlie, are you there?’ They then proceed to ask subsequent questions and the top pencil moves to land on the correct answer in the quadrant (e.g., yes, no, etc.) Of course, most [of] the time the top pencil does not move,” she wrote. “But sometimes it does. And that’s because evil spirits are real and they’re more than happy to respond to invitations to afflict people.”
This story has been updated to reflect responses from Tshibaka.