A new church in Kelowna under the name of "Praxis Church" received pushback for homophobic and transphobic statements last week. In the church's "statements of beliefs," which can be found on their website, the church condemned same-sex relationships, arguing that "God created men, women, sexuality, and the institution of marriage." Additionally, Praxis states, "we believe that divorce, adultery, and homosexuality constitute a violation of God's intention for marriage and sexuality as laid out in the Holy Bible."
In response, the LGBTQ+ community and allies bombarded the church's social media pages, pushing back against Praxis's homophobic and transphobic messages.
While some chose to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community by commenting pride flag emojis and rainbows on Praxis's social media comments section, others cited contradictions to Praxis's statement of beliefs found within the Bible, calling the church's statements "unchristian" and "hateful," and requested that the church open a nuanced dialogue to discuss their stance on the LGBTQ+ community.
One of the respondents noted "just another case of human beings trying to play the role of God." Another argued that "[Praxis] is a disgusting and disheartening representation of what it means to be a Christian. In the Bible, reducing religion and faith to a set of rules binds people and takes away the freedom to truly worship. God loves all his children, and yes, that includes ALL members of the LGBTQ community. 'Every human being is the object of the love of God' (John 3:16)".
Following the backlash, Praxis's Pastor Josh posted a three-minute video on the church's Instagram account, briefly responding to some of the comments. While Pastor Josh agreed to meet with folks to have a "respectful" discussion on the topic, he failed to acknowledge the impact his church's comments had on the LGBTQ+ community and boiled down the communities response to being the result of "lies" that our culture has bought into.
Additionally, Pastor Josh defended Praxis by arguing that since their statement was an "internal document," and they did not post their statement of beliefs on someone else's page and supposedly do not enforce a moral code or standard on those who attend Praxis, their actions do not constitute hate.
Despite their openly homophobic and transphobic views and his continued validation of Praxis's statement of beliefs, Pastor Josh argued that Praxis does not hate anyone and that they, in fact, love everyone regardless of their beliefs.
While Praxis received positive comments from its supporters, the LGBTQ+ community and allies were not pleased with Pastor Josh's response. One commenter noted, "You say outright you don't accept us, but we are welcome??... This "disagreement" is built on centuries of hate, so it's pretty safe for us to assume this is hate and even if it isn't directly, this is where it starts. Our people have been killed. Killed. And still are."
Tessa Wotherspoon is an undergraduate student at UBCO double majoring in Sociology and Political Science. Her research interests include anti-capitalism, labour, critical animal studies, and feminist/queer theory. They are a local activist in Kelowna, British Columbia.
(Image Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Update: A peaceful protest has been planned for Sunday, August 8, at 9:30 am. For more information, visit the Facebook Event Page.