A transgender Christian publicly confronted a Catholic pastor in Cleveland, Ohio, after the pastor denounced an LGBTQ+ nonprofit in a sermon at St. Raphael Parish on Sunday.
The LGBTQ+ community has been at the center of a culture war, with conservative political figures working to create anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, such as Tennessee banning public drag shows and Florida banning gender identity education in the classroom.
Recently, conservative voices have called for boycotts of organizations entering into the nation’s social issues, specifically in the LGBTQ+ realm, such as Kohl’s, PetSmart, Bud Light, The North Face and others.
The faith community has entered into the debate as well, with some churches pledging support to the LGBTQ+ community and others condemning it.
In Sunday’s sermon, St. Raphael Parish Pastor Timothy W. Gareau apparently spoke out against the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a pro-LGBTQ+ nonprofit in California comprised of an “order of queer and trans nuns.”
The group recently received a community hero award from the Los Angeles Dodgers and was invited to the team’s LGBTQ+ Pride Night in June.
“Look at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Look what’s happening. Defaming the name of Jesus Christ. Defaming the name of every Christian here on Earth.
It just burns a hole in my heart, angers me and embitters me. And it should you,” Gareau said during the sermon, according to a report from the online news outlet cleveland.com.
Gareau didn’t specifically mention the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence but gave enough information that one parishioner approached the altar and spoke out against Gareau’s criticism.
“Queer and trans people also carry the Holy Spirit, and that was really painful to hear. That was really hurtful,” the person said, who Cleveland.com identified as a transgender former parishioner named Avery.
“You baptized me. I carry the Holy Spirit within me. I know you’re talking about the Sisters of Indulgence, and I understand that from the outside it looks like they are defaming the Catholic faith … There are queer children here. The spirit of God moves through all people.”
The quarrel comes amid political groups restricting the freedoms of transgender people.
According to the report, three men attending the sermon approached the altar and removed the former parishioner from the pulpit.
After facing backlash for inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Dodgers rescinded the invitation but later changed the decision and reinvited the group to the field upon facing further backlash from the LGBTQ+ community.
Companies and organizations have differed in their responses to the boycotts, with some struggling amid the backlash like Bud Light and the Dodgers and others digging deeper in their support of the LGBTQ+ community like The North Face and the television series The Chosen.