Eoghan Dalton Reports
A talk by a controversial US preacher has been moved to Co Waterford after organisers confirmed it wouldn’t be going ahead in the city. A talk was planned for the Tower Hotel, however it was moved after concerns were raised about the preacher’s views on homosexuality and contraception.Jason Evert is founder of the Chastity Project, which promotes chastity for young people.
In his book ‘Pure Manhood’ Mr Evert wrote that “the homosexual act is disordered, much like contraceptive sex between heterosexuals. Both acts are directed against God’s natural purpose for sex – babies and bonding.”The event, which was publicised on the Waterford & Lismore Diocese website, was scheduled for this Thursday and was directed at school students.
It quickly drew criticism from LGBT campaigners and parents.Local LGBT group Déise Pride said the talk planned for the Tower Hotel would have been an example of ‘abstinence only’ sex education which “frames virginity as a fragile prize without which women can never be whole”.
When contacted by the Munster Express last Friday, a spokesman for the Diocese confirmed the event was no longer planned for the Tower Hotel and would instead take place at another unconfirmed location. The notice for the talk has also been removed from the Diocese’s website.
It is now understood that Mr Evert’s planned talk will go ahead in Glencomeragh near Kilsheelan. It is part of the Holy Family Mission which was formed by the Waterford and Lismore Diocese in 2016 and is aimed at young Catholics between 18 and 35.
The Diocese spokesman did not respond to questions asking if the content of the talk would have been appropriate for young people and what schools were attending the talk.
Mr Evert was due to speak to two Dublin schools ahead of his Waterford appearance this Thursday but those talks have also been cancelled. A further talk for University College Dublin has also been cancelled. The pressure from campaigners to cancel the talk planned for the Tower Hotel was praised by Una Dunphy, People Before Profit candidate for the General Election.
“It was a timely reminder of the need for a new approach to sex education in our schools, as well as the Separation of Church and State.”She said matters such as contraception, non-marital sex and acts of homosexuality are now “Irish norms” which Mr Evert would have preached against in the city. “The values of this strain of Catholicism thankfully no longer reflect the values of our communities or society,” she added. “This attempt to embrace all in the church’s skewed definition of inclusivity must be debunked, before it does more harm to our children attending indoctrination framed as education.
“Highlighting the difference of genders is of huge importance to a church who rank one gender over another, deny expressions of gay love or marriage, and completely disregard our transgender community.”Ms Dunphy said that the talk would have been creating division when teenagers are at a stage where they are developing their individual identities. “According to him, gender is a gift from God not open to interpretation. Within this fundamentalism women are most definitely not on an equal footing to their male counterparts. Teaching this to our teenage girls is beyond offensive and regressive.
“There is the freedom of speech argument but the dynamics of this ‘talk’ needed to be checked. Firstly, this was scheduled at 10 am and aimed at schools. The Bishop is patron of most secondary schools in the city and county. Those who say this type of indoctrination did them no harm should look to the struggles we have had to fight in our society over the past decade and beyond, not just for ourselves personally but for acceptance of others in our community, for women and LGBT rights.”
According to the Irish Times, Mr Evert’s talks will go ahead at a Dublin church which is the only Catholic parish in the capital run by priests of the conservative Opus Dei congregation, of which Waterford and Lismore Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan is also a member.