A peaceful protest will be held in front of Praxis Church on 228 Valley Road in West Kelowna on Sunday, Aug. 8.
Kelowna LGBTQ2S+ community members are pushing back against Praxis Church for homophobic and transphobic statements and beliefs. “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,” reads the Facebook event page for the protest.
The church openly touts homophobic and transphobic beliefs on its website. According to the church’s “Our Beliefs” page, homosexuality violates God’s intention for marriage and sexuality in the Bible. The church also believes that any discrepancy between one’s biological sex and gender identity is due to the effects of sin in the world.
“We do not condone same-sex marriage or homosexual lifestyles,” reads Praxis Church’s website.
LGBTQ2S+ community members bombarded the church’s social media pages in response by commenting pride flag emojis and rainbows in the comments. Some quoted Bible passages and said Praxis Church’s statement of beliefs are contradictory.
“Our people have been oppressed by the church for thousands of years you speak of. God Forbid we try to shut down passive like saying our lifestyle is a violation,” said a respondent underneath one of Praxis Church’s Instagram posts.
In response, the church’s Pastor Josh Dool posted a video on Instagram denouncing these accusations.
“We’re not posting our statement of faith on anyone’s (social media) page… The statement of faith that is being passed around the internet is an internal document. It was posted for the benefit of anyone checking Praxis out,” said Dool in the video.
“As a church we do unapologetically believe that the Bible is the word of God,” added Dool. “We commit to being a church that stands firm and keep a strong grip on the clear teachings and clear historical positions of the church.”
But LGBTQ2S+ community members have continued to express hurt and anger towards the church’s statement of faith. Advocacy Canada founder Wilbur Turner said that he wants to raise awareness to the public about homophobia and transphobia in faith-based organizations across the Okanagan. Advocacy Canada is currently compiling a list of homophobic and transphobic faith-based organizations across the Okanagan. However, the organization is not directly involved with hosting the protest.
“A lot of people are not aware of doctrines and beliefs of evangelical style churches and how they cause harm to the (LGBTQ2S+) community. It’s not about changing their doctrine, it’s a matter of bringing public awareness,” said Turner.
Black Press Media reached out to Praxis Church multiple times for comment but did not get a response in time for publication.