A Kelowna Pentecostal church has been in the spotlight after their homophobic and transphobic statement of beliefs was found on their website. The Instagram account of Praxis Church Kelowna received hundreds of views and messages following this disclosure. While a few commenters defended the church, many comments contained heart and rainbow emojis and called the church out for their hate.
Website advocacy-canada.lgbt lists the church with the warning 'not a safe space' for the church's statement, "We do not condone same-sex marriage or homosexual lifestyles. Additionally, we believe that God has created men and women as two distinct sexual beings. Any discrepancy between one[']s biological sex, and gender identity is due to the effects of sin in the world."
One defender of the church posted a comment stating, "...there are many people who were genuinely gay that are not now… and these people are experience[ing] more freedom and love and joy than ever because their identity is now found in Christ. Just making the point that with skin you can't change, but we have tons of examples where the orientation of a person changes…." These statements appear to promote conversion therapy and that a person can change their sexual orientation.
Conversion therapy is a medically and scientifically debunked practice that unsuccessfully attempts to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Public awareness has been increasing since the Liberal government introduced Bill C-6 aimed at criminalizing aspects of conversion therapy.
Motivated by the perceived hate messaging from the Praxis Church, a local person is organizing a protest at the church. "The Praxis Church is a new religious group in town that is actively anti-LGBTQIA2S+. They are not welcome in our beautiful community where all are accepted. Let's organize and present them with messages of love and acceptance for their next service," the event description states.
In response to an Instagram comment, the organizer writes, "Your indoctrinated responses to everyone's responses just make you sound like a wank. My 95-year-old grandmother is Christian and welcomes all my beautiful gay friends with love. That should be the 'Christian way."
The protest is being held at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 8th, at Praxis Church 228 Valley Rd, Kelowna. Organizers are asked to be peaceful and not disrupt or interfere with the church service, which would be against the law.
Wilbur Turner (he/him) is the founder of Advocacy Canada, an organization dedicated to unifying and amplifying 2S-LGBTQIA+ voices on important advocacy issues. He identifies as gay and queer, lives in Kelowna on the unceded traditional land of the Syilx peoples, and contributes on many levels to 2S-LGBTQIA+ rights, both locally and internationally.