Activists protested a troupe of drag queens known for dressing up as Catholic nuns at an LGBTQ-friendly church in Dallas on Sunday.
Cathedral of Hope hosted a “Drag Sunday” service to “bless” the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who some have described as an “anti-Catholic hate group,” as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The church is said to be the largest LGBTQ-friendly church in the world. The 10 a.m. service was held in response to SB 12, a new state law that aims to prohibit “sexually oriented performances” from being held in the presence of minors. The law was set to take effect on September 1, but it faced a legal challenge by the ACLU and was temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
Roughly 40 protesters gathered at Cathedral of Hope on Sunday morning to voice their opposition to the service honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
“Put down your sex toys and pick up your Bible, folks!” one protester could be heard saying through a megaphone.
Cesar Franco of the nonprofit America Needs Fatima said, “Catholic nuns are something that’s very sacred, very beautiful.”
“For them to mock the purity of nuns, to mock this beautiful institution of the Catholic faith, it’s abominable,” he told The Dallas Morning News.
“We’re protesting against this abomination that’s occurring here,” said Jim Muller of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, per the DMN.
Church leaders at Cathedral of Hope stood by their decision to host the controversial drag group. They said the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have a positive message for those in the LGBTQ community “who have been excluded from churches.”
“[The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence] have been a force to help us understand that there is something still very deeply spiritual about us,” Reverand Neil G. Thomas told The Dallas Express. “Whilst we understand that their art form and expression may not be everybody’s taste, the truth is that they have also followed in the footsteps of many orders who have been benevolent and who have continued to be the most compassionate [and] understanding … working specifically [with] gay men during the AIDS pandemic.”
“They’re modeled after the Roman Catholic nuns who were some of the first people to be in hospitals and working with gay men specifically as they were dying of AIDS,” he said, adding that people who believe the group is “anti-Catholic” should “actually get to know” the Sisters.
“We all hear all sorts of things about all sorts of people. Part of the problem we have in our world right now is that we are polarized, and we’re not talking to one another,” Thomas said. “To get to know [the Sisters] is to appreciate the work that they do.”
During the sermon, Thomas said, “Drag queens are often targets of hate and violence. But we know that they are often powerful and resilient people who show us what it means to be truly authentic and expressive.”
After the sermon, the drag performers came onto the stage, and a blessing was read over them by church leaders.
A member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence told The Dallas Express that it was important for him and his colleagues to come to Sunday’s service to “promulgate omniversal [sic] joy and expiate guilt” and show support for the LGBTQ and drag communities.
Sister Sasha Cochteze countered claims that the Sisters are “anti-Catholic,” claiming their mission is to “go where the nuns can no longer go.” He said the Sisters would go to places like bars and clubs, and if they found someone needing spiritual help, they would direct them to Cathedral of Hope.
When asked about SB 12 and whether children should be allowed to attend drag shows, Cochteze said that “parents have the right to choose what their kids can and cannot see,” even when it comes to drag shows.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, an all-ages Pride event featuring drag shows was held on Saturday, which brought out protesters who were vocal in their opposition to children attending drag shows.
“We are very concerned because exposing drag culture to children is something that is totally unacceptable. … The law should safeguard the innocence of children,” said Franco, who also turned out to protest Saturday’s event, speaking with The Dallas Express.
While the Sisters maintain they are not an anti-Catholic group, locally based Catholic apologist and speaker Trent Horn said they “mock what is sacred to over a billion people through their cartoonish depictions of nuns and by hosting events like ‘Hunky Jesus’ contests” in a previous statement to The Dallas Express.
“Respectful people would never celebrate a group that hosted ‘Hunky Muhammad’ contests or mocked the appearance of Hasidic Jews,” said Horn. “Those who claim to be inclusive and respectful towards all faiths likewise shouldn’t celebrate the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
The Sisters were also honored by the City of Dallas during LGBTQ Pride Month this year. The City said the group is “dedicated to community service, fundraising, outreach, advocacy, education for safer sex awareness, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.”