Calgary’s First Baptist Church, located on Fourth Street S.W., congregated this month and voted on the decision to reject those of the LGBTQ2S+ community membership. The decision was based on the notion that this particular way of life doesn’t align with their interpretation of scripture.
Anna Murphy is a local voice and advocate for LGBTQ2S+ issues, and currently serves on the city of Calgary’s Gender Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion subcommittee. She describes being taken aback by the news.
“It made me feel unwelcome and unsafe,” she said. “If I, as someone who has some privilege in this community, felt unwelcome, I can only imagine what those who experience more intersectionality and marginalization than myself could be looking out upon.”
Murphy refers to herself as being “community-minded,” in correspondence to her fight for unity within the city. She expresses that Calgary, and specifically it’s downtown Beltline area, is a progressive place.
“I know that this is not who we are; I know that we are better than that, as Calgarians, as neighbours, as a community. Not only is this immensely out of touch, but also it’s being an immensely bad neighbour to the community that you serve,” she said.
“This is a place of worship that serves an inner city community, one of the most diverse communities within Calgary, and to see it take such a stand has been an attack. This is a blatant outright attack.”
Murphy points out the irony in the sign adorning the lawn beside the front doorway of the church, which says ‘Everyone Welcome’. Then shares her final thoughts on the matter.
“This is a time where we need to be coming together as a community, and not so much division, adversity, ignorance, and intolerance. It’s incredibly unfortunate, to say the absolute least. It’s an absolute blatant attack on a marginalized group that is a part of the community, and helps to make Calgary the rich, diverse, wonderful city that it is, and these individuals have sent a message that that is not the case.”
Haylee McGregor had previously attended the church up until recently, until the notice of the new measures released.
“I feel like there’s a lot of interpretations of the Bible. But this one in particular, if we’re looking at Jesus, his whole philosophy was the whole love thy neighbor principle. That means that we should be actively caring for individuals,” she said. “Whether they’re different from us, whether they have a different skin tone, a different religion, or a different sexual orientation.”
McGregor shares that her interest in religion comes from not only being a religious person, but also something of a more scholastic nature.
It made me feel unwelcome and unsafe.
“Lots of scholars have actually interpreted the passage where it says, man shall not live with another man as an anti-pedophilia clause. So, a lot of it is just interpretation. I think this is based on traditional values. They’re uncomfortable with it, and they’re blaming the reason why they feel this way on religion. Even though that’s not what the good book actually says, it tells you to treat people fairly and equally,” she said.
The staff at the local First Baptist Church, as well as the national organization, have all denied the request for interview.