LGBTI groups and allies have staged a protest this weekend outside a Dumfries Church against an appearance of Pastor Angus Buchan who promotes homophobic and misogynistic views.
Buchan preaches to tens of thousands paying participants in South Africa where he says that homosexuality is a “disease” that can be “cured” by prayer.
The Pastor also runs “Mighty Men” conferences where he teaches men to “remedy” their masculinity, and for women to subject themselves to their husbands and to support corporal punishment of their children.
The South African pastor, who has been invited by the evangelical Hope Church to speak at the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, Scotland last weekend, has caused an outcry among LGBTI and women’s rights advocates.
The pastor was due to speak before a crowd of over 400 people organised by Hope Church, Galashiels, but following a successful campaign by Scottish Borders LGBT Equality, it has been cancelled.
However, in defiance of public outcry and concern, Angus nevertheless managed to rebook and preach to a small crowd of around 100 at the Pentecostal Lighthouse Church of Dumfries.
According to Susan Hart, Chair of the Scottish Borders LGBT Equality Forum, around 60 people turned out for the protest, with the pastor of the Lighthouse Church trying unsuccessfully to ban the protest by calling the police.
“Police were called by the pastor, by the actually turned out to be quite supportive and made no attempts to ban us, just assisted with road safety.
“In fact, a member of the congregation come out with his baby son, and spoke to us who protested, saying that while he and others agreed with some of Buchan’s, they rejected homophobia and misogyny and appreciated why the protest was held. He indicated that the congregation was a split over Buchan’s views.
“Whilst I am disappointed in that we did not manage to prevent Buchan from speaking in Scotland, I was pleased we at least prevented him from doing so at the Borders and with the protest turnout.
“It seems that many of those who attended his event were women and children and I find that very disturbing particularly with his repugnant views on LGBTI people and disciplining children, and women.
“I worry about the impact such views and being able to be open diversity and community.
“Nevertheless, the protest showed strength and unity, it’s about organisations working together demonstrating what can be achieved in combating discrimination and prejudice.”
Jerry Slater, of LGBT Plus Dumfries and Galloway, who also participated in the protest, told KaleidoScot: “The views that Buchan promotes cause a great deal of harm, particularly the idea of ‘cure by prayer’. For five long years in my youth I prayed to be made straight as part of a congregation of an Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church.
“The idea that ‘we love you but we cannot condone your sin,’ is also harmful. When I was a member of the Pentecostal Church, I had pressure put on me to rid myself of what I was led to believe was a sin. This caused me to suffer depression and anxiety for years. It led me to low self-esteem which denied me opportunities in my work, my friendships and my relationships. I do not want anyone to go through what I went through.
“These kind of ideas cause immense harm and lead LGBTI people of faith to terrible choices, either you repress your sexuality or gender identity and retain your links with the community which is very traumatic, or you choose the former and lose your links which causes too immense hurt.
“This is a false choice and it shouldn’t be made. You don’t choose to be born ginger and neither is it a sin, it’s natural just as being gay is.
“Everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs. Things become different when any one person, or belief system, tries to impose its beliefs on others. I think giving Angus a public platform is problematic and wrong, even in a Church, as he, and people who share his views, can cause so much harm.
Kelly Moorhead from Dumfries, also participated in the protest. Moorhead is a grieving mother that had lost her daughter Chloe a few months ago, who was driven to suicide due to being humiliated and bullied in school, after coming out. Moorhead said she also opposed Buchan’s views.
“I don’t think he should be allowed to preach to the public as beliefs can be very harmful,” she told KaleidoScot.
“These kind of messages are so damaging, not only to children and women but anyone. Despite what members say that they love others, this is really a message of intolerance and hate which can drive abuse and even suicide.
“I and others came to protest and say we are here to show love: pride not prejudice. We can stand together and fight for tolerant Scotland and society, united in our belief and also honouring the dead and those who suffer from prejudice. No to discrimination and prejudice, yes to love, unity and pride”
In a statement, the Lighthouse Church said they respect the LGBT community, but also value “freedom of speech”. It said: “We respect the views of the LGBT community and although we believe different things and we hope that both communities can live peacefully and dignifiedly In a great country that allows freedom of speech, lifestyle and worship.”
Watch a clip of the protest by Moorhead here: