Across from Christ the King Catholic Church, sign-waving protesters made their presence known.
On Oct. 30, Spectrum, the University’s LGBTQ+ organization, organized a protest against Rev. Philip Bochanski’s talk, "Welcoming & Accompanying our Brothers & Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction,” hosted by Christ the King.
The peaceful protest, which lasted from 6 to 7 p.m. across the street from Christ the King, was in reaction to Bochanski's views on homosexuality. Bochanski is the executive director for Courage International, an organization that believes gay Christians should never act on same-sex romantic attraction and advocates for chastity in homosexual members of the church.
Spectrum wants to show LGBTQ Christians that they didn’t have to conform to those expectations. Mass communication junior Anna Marie Foster, Spectrum’s communications coordinator, said the goal was to make people going to the talk at least think about changing their minds.
“I think that a lot of people that might be going to the talk are LGBTQ Christians, and I think that they’re in a uniquely vulnerable place because they have a lot of conflicting messages,” Foster said. “The queer community is like, ‘Be who you want to be, express yourself, there’s nothing wrong with you.’ And then the Catholic Church says, ‘Well we love you, but there’s something wrong with you. And you have to be a certain way or else that’s not right with God.’”
About 20 people showed up and stayed, eating satsumas and making signs. One woman brought her dog, Cook, who sported a rainbow bow tie.
Foster emphasized that Spectrum didn’t want any type of altercation, and only wanted to make their presence known. Foster also stressed that the organization had no problems with Christ the King, and are actually reaching out to the church to establish a dialogue with them. Spectrum hopes to work with Christ the King to make the church a safer place for LGBTQ people.
At one point, Bochanski and Rev. Andrew Merrick came over to talk with the protesters, where both sides calmly acknowledged each other.
“We parted on good terms, a very cordial conversation,” Bochanski said.
At Bochanski's talk, which lasted from 7 to 8 p.m., the room was filled with around 160 people, mostly students and families. The meeting began and ended with prayer, part of which called for support and strength for Christians with same-sex attractions.
Bochanski used a powerpoint to help make his points, including the different types of love, and gave out information on how to reach out to nearby chapters of Courage International for support.
He emphasized that Christians with same-sex attraction should be embraced and accepted, saying that while acting on homosexual inclinations were wrong, simply having the inclinations were not a sin. Bochanski wants everyone to feel comfortable reaching out to him for discussion and advice.
Bochanski said he wanted the main takeaway from his talk to be faith in God, that the call to chastity was for everyone and the talk was about embracing that and living for God.
“When God wants us to follow him, it often involves great sacrifices and it feels really hard to let go of things that are so close to who we are, but whenever he asks us to make a great sacrifice, it’s because he knows us and loves us and he wants what’s best for us,” Bochanski said. “So we don’t have to be afraid to sacrifice, even sacrifice some relationships or ways of attraction, if we trust that God is honest in that out of love for us.”
Bochanski and Merrick were happy with the talk and following discussion, saying that it seemed like people were listening and trying to understand the organization’s point of view more. In the discussion, questions about chromosomes and whether God made people gay were brought up and addressed.
Elementary education junior Maggie Hoover said she gained a lot from the talk. Though she has never experienced same-sex attraction, she came to learn how to support friends who struggled with it. While she had seen the protest outside, she didn’t really agree with their stance.
“I think we’re all entitled to our own opinion,” Hoover said. “But I was reading some of their signs and it was like ‘love yourself’ and ‘we love you,’ and I just was sad that that was their signs because that’s what we believe, we love them. We don’t want it to be a shameful thing.”
Directly across from the church, protesters were also talking about love and acceptance. Spectrum faculty adviser Chris Barrett said that Spectrum welcomed all faith communities.
“We just wanted to be out here and signal that we embrace everyone in that community and that we are open and affirming and we love people for who they are,” Barrett said. “We hope that they'll join us and celebrate themselves.”