Nfld. & Labrador

Anti-LGBT, abortion views at Bonavista church persist in certain groups, says former minister

A former Pentecostal church minister is shedding light on how controversial religious views persist in some communities following a recent open-air church service in Bonavista criticizing abortion and the LGBT community.

Preachers often share 'false sense of love,' said Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts, a former Pentecostal minister, says religious views criticizing LGBT and abortion rights can persist in some communities due to a lack of openness to progressive ideas. (Submitted by Katherine Roberts)

A former evangelical minister is shedding light on how controversial religious views can persist in certain religious communities following a recent open-air church service in Bonavista, N.L., criticizing abortion and the LGBT community.

Katherine Roberts, who now works as a marriage commissioner in central Newfoundland, spent years in the Pentecostal Church and preaching with Victory Churches International. She left the group to tend to her business in the region, but said her departure also gave her time to change and assess her own beliefs.

"I have two kids who are gay … and I raised them in the fundamentalist environment, so my two kids were not free to be who they were. When I faced that moral dilemma that the God that I served and worshipped … did not love my kids … that is what led me to a careful examination of my beliefs," Roberts told The St. John's Morning Show this week.

Roberts's comments come after video surfaced online in August of an open-air service at Grace Pentecostal Church in Bonavista that shows the church's minister criticizing abortion, the LGBT community and the use of alcohol.

Roberts said she wasn't surprised to hear comments of that nature come out of the Pentecostal church, adding they likely come from a strong devotion to the words of the Bible.

"Pentecostalism, fundamentalism, the church that I belonged to, are biblical literalists. They believe the Bible is 100 per cent correct, and everything else is wrong," she said.

"I would bet my bottom dollar that that man believes that he was preaching out of love. But it's a very false sense of love, it's a love if you align with what we believe."

A video of a Grace Pentecostal Church service in August gained attention online as a minister in an open-air setting criticized abortion, the LGBT community and the use of alcohol. (Google Maps)

When the words of the Bible are taken as pure truth, Roberts said, it can often isolate people and prevent them from exploring differing ideas such as LGBT relationships and abortion.

"Obviously there's a lot of great things in [the Bible]. Great ideas, great concepts, great things to live by … but the Bible also says that homosexuality is an abomination and gay people should be stoned," she said.

"[People are told] there's Christians, and then there's the world. And the world is to be distrusted.… The devil is out there to get you. So the closer you stick to the Bible, the better," Roberts added. "[But] it denies science, it denies fact, it denies logic and reasoning and keeps the believer in a bubble of that doctrine."

LISTEN | Hear Katherine Roberts's full conversation with the CBC's Adam Walsh:

An outdoor church service in Bonavista last month publicly broadcast anti-LGBTQ+ views… We’ll get insight from a former evangelical minister.

Because the system of belief within a religion can often be deep and complex, Roberts said, it can be a challenge to get people to be open to new ways of thinking.

She says it's something that can change, but reformation comes only with time and introspection.

"There's a lot of hurdles if you're trying to reach people who are afraid of you, who mistrust you.… Shouting back and forth at each other is not going to work. Even presenting each other's side, I don't think that's going to work," she said.

"It's going to take everybody examining their beliefs.… Is it beneficial, is it logical?… Personally, I think that's really the only way to open a dialogue."

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With files from The St. John's Morning Show