About 25 demonstrators stormed into a religious revival meeting in Castlegar on Sunday to protest its main speaker.
The protesters, LGBTQ+ persons, their supporters and others, were protesting Angus Buchan, a South African evangelist notorious for what has been described as homophobic, misogynist and abusive rhetoric, at the first Mighty Men Conference to be held in Canada.
“It’s time, Canada, equality for all,” said Shannon McCready. “It’s not time for women to be submitting to men. You can’t pray the gay away. Corporal punishment is not for children. These are all things I’ve seen video of this man professing. And if that’s the kind of thing this guy is saying in Canada, it’s not okay in my backyard.”
The protesters first gathered at the entrance to the Pass Creek Exhibition Grounds, then swept past security and stood in front of the stage waving placards — some laced with obscenities — and shouting slogans. Security called the police, who moved the protesters off to the side and warned them not to interfere with others’ enjoyment of the event.
Buchan ignored the protesters, who occasionally heckled his message of a traditional biblical family structure. While he avoided talking about homosexuality, he did reiterate his view that women should submit to their men to bring peace to a household.
“My wife is probably the most feminine woman you can find. My house smells sweet. The food tastes delicious. My bed is clean. She’s got new sheets on my bed. I go to the bathroom. There’s fresh soap there. She is a woman!” said Buchan.
“I am a man. I don’t want a dirty bathroom. I don’t want cold food. I don’t want dirt … I love my wife more today then when I laid eyes on her 50 years ago.
“Let me tell you, you have a specific role in the home. Never, ever forget that, and boys, give them a clap … they have a role no man can fulfill.”
While the demonstrators scoffed, the mostly white, middle-class audience cheered and applauded, and ignored the protests for the most part, though some engaged them in debate, shook their hands or offered hugs.
Jeff Zak, who helped organize the event, said he welcomed the protesters. “They’re still loved, like every human being, God loves everybody and it’s fine.”
He wouldn’t say whether he supported Buchan’s views, which includes calling homosexuality a “disease” that can be cured through prayer.
“Most of those things didn’t even come up and he didn’t address those,” he said. “The purpose of this meeting was all about love, and about family, and loving your neighbour.”
Organizers hoped to attract up to 1,000 men to the three-day event. A rough count estimated about 800 attended Sunday, though much of that crowd included wives and children, who were allowed to go that day.
The protest was organized after word of Buchan’s views spread on local social media. The outrage prompted the managers of the Pass Creek Exhibition Grounds to apologize on Facebook.
“Our society would never support a negative or hurtful event being held at the exhibition grounds and our society apologizes to our community,” said Donna Smith, president of the Pass Creek Regional Exhibition Society.
“We also want to express that we had no knowledge of who this evangelical preacher is.”