Saskatchewan

Community leaders blast Regina pastor's sermon as homophobic

Community leaders are speaking out against a sermon delivered Sunday to the congregation of Regina Victory Church that was critical of LGBT youth.

Pastor Terry Murphy stands by sermon and says his opinion can not be cancelled

Terry Murphy has been a pastor for 25 years, 13 of which have been spent in Regina. He is currently the pastor at Regina Victory Church. (Matthew Howard/CBC)

Community leaders are speaking out against a sermon delivered Sunday to the congregation of Regina Victory Church that was critical of LGBT youth.

In the sermon, pastor Terry Murphy pointed to a recent Gallop survey that found one-in-six Gen Z adults are LGBT.

"If you promote a choice, any choice is acceptable, and people will start to begin to make it more," Murphy said in his sermon, which was broadcast live on Facebook.

Murphy then drew a connection to a person choosing pedophilia or choosing to be "a tramp." He encouraged his congregation to denounce gender-fluidity within their own children.

Faith leader denounces anti-LGBT rhetoric

While the anti-LGBT rhetoric was not surprising to several Regina leaders, they said it's concerning that the homophobia came from a person in power.

"Many of us think things have changed and this kind of distorted information that breeds homophobia and transphobia, we don't hear much anymore," said Minister Russell Mitchell-Walker, a gay clergyman at Regina's Eastside United Church.

"But it's still very prevalent out there, and it continues to create and feed into that homophobia, which can lead to hate and which develops people's lack of self-esteem who are dealing with sexual identity and gender identity, and also increases the risk of suicide."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the congregation at Regina Victory Church has moved online on Sundays. On March 6, Pastor Terry Murphy delivered an online sermon that drew ire. (Matthew Howard/CBC)

LGBT activist Jacq Brasseur called Murphy's sermon dangerous and said such rhetoric leads to people having internal battles with religion.

"LGBT people of faith exist," Brasseur said.

"I also have a relationship with God just as much as this pastor does. And my relationship with God tells me that God loves me, and that God made me who I am as an LGBT person and gave me the gift of being able to love in the way that I love."

Brasseur said they don't make judgments about other people's relationships with God, but they trust that "God will find a way to communicate effectively to this pastor and to his congregant that LGBT people are worthy of love."

Sermon also perpetuates sexism, says critic

Lisa Miller, executive director of Regina Sexual Assault Centre, said the sermon made her sad and could lead people in the community to feel their worth is diminished.

She also took offence to the word "tramp" being used, as it continues a sexist narrative.

"It's about those belief systems, those value systems that say either you're a good girl or you're not. You deserve protection or you don't. You're someone that you take home to mom or you don't," Miller said.

"It really devalues people. And it's very specific to women. There's not an equivalent for men in that way. So that's very much put on women."

Lisa Miller, Regina Sexual Assault Centre executive director, said Murphy's sermon was sexist, homophobic and harmful to the community. (CBC)

Murphy stands by his sermon

Murphy said he didn't mean to shame anyone with the word "tramp" and that his sermon did not come from a place of hate.

"I'm a child of the 50s and my language is a little bit different. I'm not really going to apologize. You can call someone that's promiscuous whatever you want. This is a free country," the pastor said.

Murphy said that since the sermon went live, the church has received both backlash and messages of support. Despite people trolling him from halfway around the world, Murphy said he will not apologize and that his opinion can not be silenced or cancelled.

Pastor Terry Murphy of Regina Victory Church. (Matthew Howard/CBC)

Murphy said his church accepts all people, including LGBT people.

"It's behaviours that we're trying to modify so that our lives can live in harmony with God," Murphy said.

He said he has a strong personality.

"I'm strong in my delivery, and I don't apologize for that," Murphy said.

"Sometimes I wish I could be a little softer, but that's not my character. It's to confront the problem."

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With a file from CBC's Morning Edition

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