A Roseburg religious group will not be allowed in this year’s Boatnik parade in Grants Pass because of a poster that wasn’t deemed to be family-friendly.
Mason Goodknight, the director of Community OutReach Evangelism, or CORE, received a letter that said the group’s application was denied because of a poster Goodknight carried last year that was “very negative” toward the LGBTQ members of the Grants Pass community.
“I’ve never complained about alternative groups in parades,” Goodknight said. “I know they have the right. It’s a private group having this parade and they have full rights to deny anybody entry into this parade they want. I’m saddened that they misrepresented us because we don’t hate anybody, but they have the full right as a private group to have whatever message they want in their parade.”
Grants Pass Active Club Parade Chair Gregory Day said the organization received multiple complaints about the sign and chose to deny the application.
“I think it was some specific messaging that attacked, essentially, LGBTQ members of our community,” Day said. “Everybody has their own individual message that they want to give out, but it all has to fit within the overall parade theme and that one certainly did not.”
The poster read: “OUR LIES, HATE, THEFT, GREED, LUST, PORN, FORNICATION, LGBTQ, ABORTION AND ALL OTHER SIN EARN DEATH AND HELL. TRUST JESUS! BE SAVED!”
“The whole banner lists a whole bunch of sins — LGBTQ is just one of the sin categories listed,” Goodknight said. “In fact, one of the sins listed is hate, so for people to say we’re being hateful when we call hate a sin is really hypocritical because we don’t hate anybody.”
Goodknight said the group has been taking part in the parade for about seven years as a way to share their faith.
“We just go to everything we can with a big crowd,” Goodknight said. “We go to communities to reach out with the gospel. Boatnik is the beginning of our three busiest weeks of the year.”
The Boatnik Festival, which started in 1959, raises money for local youth programs and is the second-largest festival in Oregon, according to the festival’s website.
After the Boatnik Festival, CORE goes to the Starlight Parade and the pre-parade for the Grand Floral Parade as part of the Rose Festival in Portland.
The group ran into controversy at the Pear Blossom Parade in Medford last year when the same poster caught the attention of local media. Goodknight said group members agreed to not bring that specific sign to that parade this year beforehand.
“That sign’s been a seed to have great conversations with people,” Goodknight said. “I’m willing to talk with them, chat with them and work with them over that. They should have contacted us and said, ‘If you want to be part of this event, come talk with us.’”
Goodknight said he was surprised he was banned over the LGBTQ part of the poster since it also has abortion listed as a sin.
“We love God, we love people, that’s why we’re there,” Goodknight said. “We fail, we’re not perfect, that’s why we need Jesus. Yes we talk of hell, yes we talk of judgment, but it’s always in that vein of, ‘Yes, but we don’t want you to go there, come to Christ and be saved.’”