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Protests expected for sermon from controversial pastor

Last Updated Sep 26, 2019 at 10:13 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – A controversial pastor will be delivering a sermon at City Hall in two weeks, and it’s stirring up outrage with many expected to protest.

Art Pawlowski who runs the Calgary Street Church is expected to hold a sermon in the Atrium at City Hall on Oct. 5.

Members of Queers on Campus are already planning protests and have asked Mayor Nenshi and the City of Calgary to revoke Pawlowski’s permit to hold the service.

On its Facebook page, the society said Pawlowski has been present at Calgary Pride protesting it as “anti-Christian.”

“His vitriol against the LGBTQ2S+ community has long, verifiable roots. From blaming the 2013 floods on queer people, to hosting Bill Whatcott for a homophobic rally that resulted in a brawl, hurting multiple queer protesters, Pawlowski is one of our city’s most notable, and shameful, bigots.”

Jay Cameron, with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, says the space inside City Hall is open to anyone.

“City Hall belongs to everybody. It doesn’t just belong to people who believe the same way as Art Pawlowski does.”

Cameron notes while Pawlowski’s freedom of expression and opinion are protected under the constitution, the government does have a duty to stay neutral.

“I did take a look at the event advertisement on Facebook, and I saw statements there like, ‘This is Our City Hall, let’s take it.’ If the event is taking place inside of City Hall then I can understand why certain members of the community would be concerned.”

According to the City of Calgary, permits for religious events in the atrium can be granted after-hours, and because the sermon will be held after 6 p.m. on a Saturday, it is considered after hours.