It’s Wednesday evening, and Mulhall has come to the Hub in Kilkenny to hear controversial South African pastor, Angus Buchan. Prior to the event, some 40 people marched to the gates of the venue to protest the fact that Buchan has preached in the past that homosexuality can be cured through prayer.
Rosemary Parle from Kildare and her friend Hilary Anderson from Lisburn describe themselves as Disciples of Christ. They have arranged their holiday together especially to coincide with Buchan’s appearance in Kilkenny. Why?
“It shows how much God loves Ireland. That’s why Angus is here, because God wants us to hear good news, among all the bad news,” Parle explains.
“Unfortunately, Ireland has become so liberal in its thinking that we have strayed from the teachings of the Lord and taken on a humanistic view instead. A homosexual lifestyle goes against the covenant of marriage.”
Even though marriage between same-sex couples in Ireland is now legal?
“That’s not marriage,” Parle says. “Marriage is one man and one woman. Their bodies fit together. I’m sorry to sound crude, but it’s true.”
A group of friends have come from Carlow. Before Buchan ever takes the stage, Maria Doyle says she has already got everything she came for.
“We’re meeting our family,” is how she puts it. “Say someone went away to Australia, and then they came home. The whole family would come together to celebrate. That’s what it’s like here.”
What do they think of Buchan’s views on homosexuality? “Homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes,” her friend Julie Power explains. “Not the fact that two men love each other. The act. Sex together.”
By the time the event begins, the Hub, which has seating for 1,400 is full, including several children. Buchan jumps on stage and bellows, “I love the Irish, I really do! You are the most passionate people I have ever met.”
The crowd go mad. Camera phones flash.
“The Bible tells me to love my wife,” Buchan says. “I love my wife. If I love my wife, she will gladly submit to me.” He says this twice. The crowd roar.
These are some of the other things Buchan says:
“Abortion is legalised murder.” (This gets the loudest cheer of the evening.)
“You must discipline your children, and children, you must respect your parents.”
“Believers go to Heaven, not good people.”
“I will pray tonight that God will give a baby to all those people who can’t have babies, I have done this all over the world.”
Every sentence ends in a shout. In between cheering, the audience are totally silent.