A group of Christian pastors said they plan to host a prayer vigil outside the Civic Center Music Hall as a peaceful protest against a theatrical production with homosexual themes.
Wednesday, the Rev. Steve Kern, senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, said he has obtained a permit to host the prayer gathering on Dec. 6, the second night of the play called “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.”
The play, a production of the Oklahoma City Theatre Company, is set to open Dec. 5 in CitySpace, a theater in the Civic Center's basement. In the play, Adam and Steve meet in the Garden of Eden. The couple leave the Garden only to encounter lesbians Jane and Mabel, who insist they were Earth's original inhabitants.
Kern said he and several other local pastors obtained a copy of the play and they feel that it is an affront to the Bible because of its gay and lesbian characters and its inclusion of simulated oral and anal sex and bestiality.
“We feel like this play is an open display of intolerance, irreverence and disrespect for the faith of the majority of citizens of this city,” Kern said, referring to Christianity.
“We're just appalled. I mean, this thing is just over the top.”
He said they had been concerned that the play would also include full-frontal nudity but have learned that the Oklahoma City Theatre Company's production will not feature this aspect of Paul Rudnick's play.
Rachel Irick, the theater company's artistic director, said the company has had some email complaints about the play since a story first appeared about it in October in The Oklahoman. However, she said the theatrical company has not heard from Kern or state Rep. Dan Fisher, who shared his concerns about the production in The Oklahoman's Oct. 4 story. Fisher, R-Yukon, is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon.
She said she is not surprised about the planned prayer vigil after having read the preachers' concerns in the October news story. She said the theater company chose not to feature nudity in the production after the company's leaders did not see any artistic reason to include it. Irick said nudity has been a part of previous Oklahoma City Theatre Company productions but they were presented in a heterosexual context.
“So we find this all very interesting. We've never been protested to this extent,” she said.
Irick said people's concerns about the play seem to stem from the fact that it features homosexual characters.
“I have heard in the press that some people think the play is an attack on the Bible. To the contrary, the play is an attack on the anti-LGBT agenda (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) which is that God didn't create homosexuals, that they weren't born this way,” Irick said.
She said the play is essentially a love story and not about sex at all.
“I think we're being targeted because we're showing two men in love with each other on stage and two women in love with each other on stage. The play presents the idea that God created homosexuals and this is offensive to some people who don't believe that,” Irick said.
Irick said a major theme of the play is the search for relationship with God.
Meanwhile, Kern said he expects the planned prayer vigil to be peaceful, with no one “yelling or screaming anything.”
“We're going to be praying,” he said.
“I just feel like we as Christians need to begin speaking out publicly about things like this. We've been silent for far too long.”
He said he is particularly troubled that the play will be performed in the weeks leading up to Dec. 25, when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. The play is expected to run through Dec. 22.
“Obviously, it's leading right up to Christmas and yet this thing is a total and complete sacrilege of what the Bible stands for,” Kern said.
Irick said the theatrical company has never considered canceling the play. She said it will go on as scheduled, despite protesters.
“Have they considered Christ's words in Matthew 6:5? Christ never spoke against homosexuals, but he did condemn praying on street corners for the purpose of being seen,” she said.