A local church is hosting a service to “bless” the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a group of drag queens some have described as an “anti-Catholic hate group.”
Cathedral of Hope, said to be the largest LGBTQ-friendly church in the world, is hosting “Drag Sunday” on September 17 as a deliberate response to SB 12, a new state law that aims to protect children from “sexually oriented performances.” The legislation was scheduled to take effect on September 1 but faced a legal challenge by the ACLU and was temporarily blocked by a federal district judge, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
During Cathedral of Hope’s 10 a.m. worship service on Sunday, the church said it will “celebrate and bless the drag performers and drag community from around North Texas and beyond.”
“As we respond to the efforts to enact the new law, SB12, which would have the effect of criminalizing drag and other forms of performance art, we aim to come together … to celebrate and embrace the drag performers who enrich our community,” the event description reads. “We wholeheartedly affirm that drag is an incredible art form that has played a significant role in shaping the LGBT movement.”
The Cathedral of Hope is also collecting donations for the Drag Defense Fund, which finances the ACLU’s legal challenges against “anti-LGBTQ legislation.” More information about the event can be found here.
As part of the drag celebration, the church will be hosting the controversial Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. As covered by The Dallas Express, the group made national headlines in May when they were hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, igniting backlash from members of the Catholic community.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are drag queens who perform dressed in the religious habits of Catholic nuns. The DFW branch of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was recognized by the City of Dallas during Pride Month earlier this year, receiving an award for Outstanding Leadership in Arts and Culture.
Several Catholic bishops and other prominent figures in the Catholic community have spoken out against the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, describing their performances as offensive to the Catholic faith.
In a statement to The Dallas Express, locally based Catholic apologist and speaker Trent Horn said, “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence mock what is sacred to over a billion people through their cartoonish depictions of nuns and by hosting events like ‘Hunky Jesus’ contests.”
“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.”
“As a Catholic, I pray the ‘Sisters’ repent of their blasphemy and I hope people committed to tolerance and respect will shun this hateful organization,” Horn added.
Catholic Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler led a procession in Los Angeles in protest of the Sisters being hosted by the Dodgers. Another prominent Catholic leader, Bishop Robert Barren, said in May that the Sisters “can only be described as an anti-Catholic hate group.”
The Dallas Express contacted the DFW chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and asked them if they had a response to such criticisms but received no response by press time. Sister Rosie, president of the San Francisco chapter, said in May that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence “are not anti-Catholic, but an organization based on love, acceptance and celebrating human diversity.”
Reverend Neil G. Thomas told The Dallas Express the Cathedral of Hope stands by its decision to host the Sisters. He said many Catholics support the Sisters, as the group raises funds for charities supporting the homeless and people living with HIV.
“The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence, is a charitable, protest, and street performance movement nearly 45 years old that uses drag and religious imagery to satirize issues of sexuality and gender and fundraise for charity,” Thomas said in a statement.
“On June 16, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were honored with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ community hero award on the team’s Pride Night. The Cathedral of Hope is honored to similarly recognize the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for their years of charity work and raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ community.”
When the Sisters were honored by the City of Dallas during LGBTQ Pride Month this year, the City also said the group is “dedicated to community service, fund raising, outreach, advocacy, education for safer sex awareness, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.”
As previously covered by The Dallas Express, drag performances, “all-ages” drag shows in particular, have stirred controversy across the nation and in Dallas-Fort Worth, along with related issues such as the alleged inclusion of “sexualized” content in public school libraries.