Protesting for inclusivity

A lecture by professor Charles E. Rice at the University of Waterloo (UW)on March 20 for the annual Pascal Lecture on Christianity became the focal point of civil protests for LGBTQ rights.

Protesters had been gathering outside of the Modern Languages Theatre at UW, while Rice, an emeritus professor at Notre Dame law school, was asked to speak to the university community about Christianity.

Rice’s strong opinions and beliefs about homosexuality, same-sex marriages, abortion and birth control from his past lectures acted as the catalysts for the disapproving acts of protest.

Though the protest was civil, a metal barrier kept the protestors back and police officers were standing by to ensure safety.

UW student Asad Mohammad joined in the protest as he holds the belief that the university represents inclusivity. He argued that Rice’s previous speeches do not properly reflect this message of the university.

“We are trying to build a diverse and inclusive environment. Anyone who comes to Waterloo should embody that. We will not tolerate anyone who has anything against the LGBTQ community,” Mohammad rationalized.

Steven Bednarski, a professor at St. Jerome’s Catholic University at UW, explained he believes that it is important to respect everyone’s freedom of speech and that the silent protest was an appropriate way to show Rice that he is allowed to express his views, just as others are as well.

“He is entitled to his views. I think it is important to realize when they are personal views and institutional views,” Bednarski reasoned. “It is important to hold difference to society and to speak out appropriately.”

A follow-up lecture called “An Evening of Christian Tolerance and Inclusivity” will be taking place on March 22, at St. Jerome’s University’s Siegfried Hall.

Former Guelph University dean of arts Jacqueline Murphy will attend the lecture and teaching others about contextualizing and historicizing Christian tolerance.
“We think that it is important that if we have this discussion, we have a historical context for them and our aim is to turn the even into a learning moment,” Bednarski explained when discussing the upcoming lecture.

As the protesters lined up behind the barrier both outside and inside of the Modern Languages Theatre, Rice had arrived through a secluded back entrance to avoid the protesters.

Once audience members had taken their seats, Rice stood at the podium to deliver his lecture.

Before he began his speech, Rice took the time to address the purpose of the protest in regards to his presence.

While maintaining his views on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriages, Rice claimed to have no disparagement about the demonstration.
The topics in which the protesters were fighting for were not going to be addressed in his lecture, but Rice used this as an opportunity to clarify his beliefs as well as his thoughts about the protest.
“I believe, accept and fully agree with all of the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Rice said.

“But I respect the protesters. I respect their protest. I admire their tenacity and their fervor,” he concluded, before he began his lecture on epistemology.

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