The appearance of a Christian minister accused of transphobia drew a small audience inside and outside a Sidney theatre.
An estimated 70 people were waiting for Art Lucier to speak Saturday inside the Mary Winspear Centre while another half dozen protested his appearance outside. Lucier was speaking inside the Charlie White Theatre with 300-plus seats.
Lucier spoke in Sidney to promote the so-called Battle for Canada, a continuous series of multi-day long revival meetings staged by the Revival Reformation Alliance, with the latest edition scheduled for Feb. 18-20, 2020 in Kelowna, where Lucier is a minister with Harvest Ministries International. Lucier has described the Battle for Canada as a “unity movement of all nations, including First Nations, all denominations to pray for the nation of Canada.”
This language echoes certain circles of Christian fundamentalists in the United States, and the Battle for Canada movement has received criticism LGBTQ+ community, when it stopped in Edmonton and North Battleford, where a local lawyer called the group an “anti-LGBTQ+, anti-reproductive rights, pro-Trump extremist right-wing political-church” in a lengthy social media post.
John Elving, a street minister who works with the homeless in Victoria and volunteers with the Mustard Seed Society, said he was protesting Lucier’s appearance in support of his late brother, who was transgender, and who died of a drug overdose. Elving said Lucier’s views strike him as dangerous. “He is on the fringes of society for maybe our community [in Greater Victoria], but in the Christian community is well-established. He is a big fish. He is well-known across Canada in certain circles. That is what brought me out.”
Also attending were Doug and Cathy Pamenter, who had come from Nanaimo. “We don’t know his message, but I know of his church,” said Cathy Pamenter, a pastor herself. “I know people [who] attended his church and he really helped them.” She added later that it “shocked” her to hear about the criticism levelled at Lucier. “I’m going to go in and hear what he has to say,” she said. “A lot of pastors draw protesters, and I don’t always put a lot of store in that. I want to hear from the horse’s mouth. You can’t believe the media.”
Speaking with the Peninsula News Review before his appearance, Lucier said the protesters were misguided. “That is unfortunate,” he said. “But everyone should have a chance to protest. Everyone should have a voice even when they are wrong.” When asked about the turnout for the event, Lucier described it as “fair” and “just O.K.” When asked whether he believed audiences had stayed away, because they might consider him too controversial, he said “100 per cent.”
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