Thursday, February 22, 2024

Controversy Arises as Schuylkill County Drag Show Fundraiser Faces Opposition from the Diocese of Allentown

The Actors Guild of Schuylkill County finds itself embroiled in controversy over its planned fundraising event, "A Night at Disney", an all-ages drag show after they were forced to cancel their event due to deed stipulation on their property. 

Scheduled to take place at the Kelsey Theater in St. Clair, the former St. Peter's and St. Paul's church, the event aimed to raise funds for renovations, particularly a new roof. However, according to the Guild, recent threats of legal action from the Catholic Diocese have forced them to cancel the show, sparking a contentious debate over freedom of expression and religious principles.

The roots of the conflict lie in the terms of the property purchase agreement between the Guild and the Diocese of Allentown in 2019. The Guild acquired the former church building with certain restrictions attached, limiting its usage to events that align with Catholic values. While the Guild contends that the drag show would not have violated these restrictions, citing a need for clarification, the Diocese asserts that such performances, especially those involving minors, contradict fundamental Church teachings and principles of human dignity.

In a statement obtained by Skook News, the Actors Guild expressed disappointment at the cancellation of the show and emphasized their intention to seek a more detailed interpretation of the deed restrictions. 

Conversely, the Diocese of Allentown reiterated its disappointment with the Guild's intended violation of the deed restrictions and emphasized the importance of upholding Catholic values. While acknowledging the Guild's efforts to support the arts and cultural enrichment in Schuylkill County, the Diocese emphasized the need for adherence to the terms of the agreement.

Amidst the standoff, the Diocese extended an olive branch, expressing willingness to engage in dialogue and collaboration to ensure that the terms of the agreement are met while respecting the values and teachings of the Church. Additionally, a neighboring parish reportedly offered support by providing their parking lot for the event.

The Actor' Guild says they are exploring alternative venues to host the performance at a later date, in collaboration with the show's producer.


Official statements provided to Skook News below.

From the Actors Guild of Schuylkill County. 

The Actors Guild was very upset to have to cancel the show. We have reached out to the Diocese of Allentown regarding the restrictive covenants attached to our deed to request a more detailed interpretation as we do not feel the canceled performance would have violated the restrictions. We are working with the show's producer to secure an alternate venue for their performance at a later date.

From the Diocese of Allentown.

We were disappointed to learn that the Actors Guild of Schuylkill County intended to violate the deed restrictions supporting Catholic values to which they agreed when purchasing the former church building of St. Peter and St. Paul from the parish in 2019. Drag shows, particularly those including minors, contradict the teachings of the Church and our understanding of the dignity the human person.

The Diocese of Allentown relied on the good will of the Actors Guild of Schuylkill County and the promises they undertook when taking ownership of the church property. We are saddened and would have preferred a dialogue to discuss this understanding.

We agreed to the sale of the former church to the Actors Guild with the intention of supporting the arts and enhancing cultural enrichment in Schuylkill County. A nearby parish also offered the use of their own parking lot to support their events.

We remain open to dialogue with the Actors Guild and hope they accept this offer of collaboration to ensure that the terms of the agreement are met, and our values are respected.