Last weekend at Vancouver Pride, guests who thought they were chatting with a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster were gravely disappointed.
Vancouver resident Bill Whatcott is a conservative Christian who feels so strongly about gays in society, he makes it a point to regularly attend Pride celebrations. Not as a protester in the fenced-off “free speech” section, though; he goes undercover to interact with people one-on-one and pretends to be on their side.
Months in advance, Whatcott registered for the Pride parade under a fake name. He claimed to be Matthew Davidson, a member of the Calgary Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (a fictional branch of a real Humanist organization) and set up a fake phone number and website for the application. Pride officials say they didn’t catch the fake registration because folks from FSM had participated in Pride before.
According to Ray Lam, general manager of Vancouver Pride Society:
“They pulled a very well-orchestrated con, and that’s how I look at it in my books… They were very friendly people and hugged parade marshals and volunteers and seemed very excited to be there posing for pictures with people along the way. On the surface, if you didn’t see the package or associate the package with this entry, you wouldn’t be able to identify which organization did it just by how they were acting in the parade.” …
“When the application came in, a lot of our team members were excited because we were familiar with the organization,” Lam says. “They have a reputation for being fun and animated, and we were very excited to have them — and then this happened.”
Once he got into Pride, Whatcott and four of his conservative Christian supporters actually marched in the parade with a FSM flag. They danced and waved and took pictures with other Pridegoers as if they belonged.
Then, they handed out hateful anti-LGBT leaflets disgusted as condoms.
“I want homosexuals to turn to Jesus and I believe that people can leave that lifestyle behind,” Whatcott says. “I made this Pride parade way more diverse. It’s not all leather men and naked dudes. Now it includes Christian people with diverse messages on homosexuality. True diversity.”
In the “gospel condom” that he distributed to parade-goers, Whatcott claims that everyone is “anatomically heterosexual” and that gay people “suffer grievously because of their sin.”
This isn’t the first time Whatcott has pulled a stunt like this. Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously found him guilty of distributing anti-LGBT hate speech. He’s attended Pride celebrations in Alberta and Saskatchewan without hiding his identity, and not surprisingly, those went poorly for him.
Whatcott says that his participation in the parade was part of a larger battle and that deception was necessary to get his message across. “The Supreme Court found me guilty of hate speech and I have been breaking that ruling ever since, and this is part of it,” he explains. “I’m still out there. I’m loud and not ashamed of my moral and theological protest. This is spiritual warfare. This is a war against the Supreme Court of Canada and the homosexual agenda. Using deception to get there is okay as long as it’s not malicious.”
Weirdly enough, it seems Whatcott had the time of his life at Vancouver Pride. He says people were warm and kind — albeit, they had no idea he was a bigot who had invented a false identity in order to spread hate speech.
“Vancouver Pride loved me 100 percent, and it was positive from beginning to end,” he says. “I really liked all the hugs and the hands reaching out to get my gospel condoms. I really liked getting thumbs-up from traffic cops, and I liked the transvestites and lesbians reading my ditty about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They had no idea that it was written by Bill Whatcott!”
This is so much worse — and way creepier — than the token handful of protesters with “REPENT” signs who somehow show up at Pride every year. To know that someone would pretend to be a part of a reputable, kindhearted organization in order to spread its exact opposite message is cringeworthy.
There’s not much VPS could have done to keep this guy out, but lest he inspire copycats at other parades, I hope we’re all a little more careful in the years to come.
***Update***: Church of the FSM Prophet Bobby Henderson is aware of the issue and issued this brief statement:
I find it all very sad, and while I hope no one actually believed this douche represents the Church of the FSM, I wonder if there’s anything that can be done to keep him from using our name and symbols in the future.
***Update 2***: Jakob Liljenwall, the Executive Director of the BC Humanist Association issued his own statement to Whatcott’s followers:
All of the smiles and outstretched hands that you saw as you marched were genuine, and offered in good faith. If you choose to abandon the path of bigotry, that welcoming spirit still waits for you. You will find yourself in the company of people who have conquered homophobia many times over. Amazing as it may seem, you will actually find yourself spending less time talking about homosexuality. And I’m not suggesting you abandon your faith either; there are thousands of LGBT+ people of faith in this country who can help you relate to your savior in a way that doesn’t involve defaming people for victimless “crimes.”
I suspect that you can see the contrast between Mr. Whatcott’s lies of commission (some might say bearing of false witness) and the enthusiasm and joy with which parade-goers responded. I suggest you leave the man to his own financial and theological ruin, and join the rest of us in the post-Levitical world. Your lives can still be salvaged. As for Bill? Verily I say to you: He already has his reward.