INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Outrage is growing in LGBTQ rights groups about a Catholic church event they say is like conversion therapy.
St. Luke Catholic Church post about it has been taken down and, in a statement to News 8, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said the event has now been postponed.
St Luke’s Catholic Church is at the center of the conversation. An event had been posted welcoming a speaker who’d be sharing her story of overcoming same-sex attraction through spirituality. An area high school took on some of that backlash after sharing a post about the event. LGBTQ advocates say events such as this one cause further harm to LGBTQ youth.
When St. Luke Catholic Church shared an upcoming event targeting youth attracted to the same-sex, Eli Aldrich, executive director of Shelly’s Voice, said it immediately got to work calling for its cancellation.
“Our strongest message to religions like this is it is not acceptable for you to use your God to justify your hate,” Aldrich said.
The post — now removed — and shared by Bishop Chatard High School read: ‘St. Luke Catholic Church welcomes Kim Zember. A dynamic speaker giving her witness on struggling with same-sex attraction as a teenager and finding true joy, freedom and restoration in Jesus Christ.’
Aldrich said, “That is kind of just like that is kind of like lightly wording conversion therapy.”
Searching online, people can find the links but when you click them, the link is broken, this coming shortly after the event started spreading across social media platforms.
Claire Curran, youth advocacy director of Shelly’s Voice, said, “A lot of his language reinforces to kids who may only be exposed to that that you’re going to grow up and be an LGBTQ adult and not be able to find community.”
Bishop Chatard later responded in a tweet, saying the high school posted an unvetted promotional request that hadn’t been submitted for approval to the parish or the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
“Do we want to shame the schools? No. And, that’s ultimately what we decided not to do,” Curran said. “We wanted to more so make sure everyone’s posting in a tone of education.”
Shelly’s Voice is just one of many LGBTQ youth groups to push back against the event, highlighting what it says is a harmful practice because suicide rates of LGBTQ youths is more than double that of their heterosexual peers.
“Knowing that you’re in a space where they do not want you to belong, it really messes with your mind,” Aldrich said.
LGBTQ advocates say the push back isn’t about determining who has the highest moral ground, but protecting LGBTQ youth.
Advocacy groups say if the event does ultimately move forward, they will hold a counter event.
“Out of respect for concerns that have been raised about a speaker for an upcoming event to be hosted at St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis by a group of youth ministers, the event has been postponed. The non-obligatory event was intended to focus on the Christian virtue of chastity. The Catholic Church respects the God-given dignity of all people and teaches that we are all called to live a chaste life. The event has been postponed to allow for discernment regarding how best to proceed with an event that takes the various concerns into consideration.”
Archdiocese of Indianapolis (sent shortly after after News 8 first aired the story during News 8 at 5 p.m. Sept. 19, 2022)