About 25 demonstrators stormed into a religious revival meeting in Castlegar on Sunday to protest the gathering’s main speaker.
The protesters, LGBTQ+ persons, their supporters and others, were protesting the presence of Angus Buchan, a South African evangelist notorious for what has been described as homophobic, misogynist and abusive rhetoric.
“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, where the event was taking place.
However, they swept past security soon after, and stood in front of the stage waving placards — some laced with obscenities — and shouting slogans.
Security at the event called the police, who moved the protesters off to the side of the gathering. While they let the protesters stay, police warned them not to interfere with other attendees’ 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.”
“Let the wife see that she respects, submits to her husband,” he added. “That’s what the word of God says. It’s not what Angus Buchan says . the more I love my wife, the more my wife submits to me.”
While the protesters scoffed at the philosophy of the preacher, the mostly white, middle class audience cheered and applauded. The participants also ignored the protests for the most part, though some engaged the demonstrators in debate, shook their hands or even offered hugs.
Buchan spoke for about half an hour, then left the stage. Some of the crowd began to trickle out soon afterward.
Jeff Zak, who helped organize the event, said he welcomed the protesters to the meeting.
“They’re still loved, like every human being, God loves everybody and it’s fine,” he said.
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 … the purpose of this meeting was all about love, and about family, and loving your neighbour.
“I’m not going to get drawn into things … that wasn’t any part of those meetings. There’s a lot of misinformation and I disagree with you about that,” he said, when asked about Buchan’s past comments.
Zak said he was happy with the event.
“I saw a lot of people encouraged to love other people, and that’s what it’s all about. And to be proud of their families and take care of them. And I don’t think most people would have an issue with that.”
Organizers had 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 to the Sunday event.
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 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.”
One protester said she thought the demonstration went well, and held out hope that Buchan’s message wouldn’t spread.
“I know a lot of people in the crowd,” she said. “They’re good people. They don’t really buy into what he says.
“They’re here for other reasons.”