An Epiphany, With Pride
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.




An Epiphany, With Pride

Michael Coren's faith has taken him many places. This summer, for the first time, it will take him to Pride. Here's why.

Photo by D G from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by D G from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Yesterday I tweeted something I thought fairly bland and innocuous: I plan to attend this year’s Pride parade in Toronto. Anybody who has followed my writing and broadcasting over the past two years shouldn’t have been particularly surprised. But my goodness, the reaction certainly surprised me. There were thousands of re-tweets, likes, follows and comments. There were, of course, the usual attacks and insults too, but 90 per cent of what I saw moved me profoundly.

A Newstalk 1010 colleague tweeted that she was crying with joy. I had no idea.

For many years I was known as a high-profile opponent of same-sex marriage and some of the aspirations of the LGBTQ community; I even won a major broadcasting award for taking the “no” side in a debate on the subject. I like to think that my arguments were never hateful, and I certainly maintained warm relationships with several gay people. But looking back, I almost certainly enabled hatred by giving an intellectual veneer to the arguments against equality. There’s no way of sugarcoating this. I was wrong, did wrong, wrote wrong, spoke wrong. I’ve apologized numerous times and although contrition can become laborious after a while, actions and consequences are as important as words.

I’m not going to play the martyr here, but after “coming out” in favour of equal marriage, particularly as a fairly prominent Christian journalist and author, I lost four regular newspaper columns, a television spot and all of my speeches; the bulk of my income. I was threatened, my children’s Facebook pages were trolled and they were insulted, I was accused of being an adulterer, a thief, a liar and of being blackmailed by my gay lover–I wish he’d tell me who he is! I’m not looking for any sympathy, but I have paid a price. That said, the discrimination and hate that I have encountered is only a fraction of what thousands of LGBTQ-identified individuals face, and the experience has given me more perspective.

The reasons why I changed my views are many, diverse, and complex. At root it was because and certainly not in spite of my Christian faith. Love triumphed over legalism, and the inclusion preached by Christ became far more important to me than the doctrines of a church. In fact I left Roman Catholicism and became a happy and content liberal Anglican. Beyond faith, however, was experience and maturity. I simply could not reconcile the joy and tolerance I saw in the gay community with the views I was supposed to hold. The more progressive I became, the more gratitude I received from gay men and women and the more visceral hatred from their opponents. It radicalized me of course; it could not do otherwise.

I now not only believe that equal marriage is a fundamental right but also a manifestation of Christian love and of the face of the living God. Of the 200,000 words in The New Testament a mere 40 refer to same-sex attraction and many leading theologians question the genuine meaning of those references. When it comes to the Old Testament it simply won’t do in the light of modern scholarship to accept the story of Sodom as referring to homosexuality; it’s a condemnation of rape, violence and rejection of strangers. There are around 20 further mentions of Sodom in Scripture itself and not one of them speaks of homosexuals. The handful of so-called anti-gay “clobber verses” in The Bible are deeply ambiguous. I could go on.

Actually I have, and have written a book on the subject. And all of the nastiness and the firings became irrelevant when the actor and author Stephen Fry, someone I have revered for years, wrote me one of the kindest and most supportive endorsements I have ever received.

So yes, I will be at Pride this year and will be, well, proud to be there. I’ll be speaking as well. Twitter is merely a social media device but genuine transformation is something much more significant. This isn’t about me but about how change, revision, and admitting to being wrong can solve not all but certainly many of the world’s problems. I can’t pretend the last two years have always been easy but I wouldn’t change them for the world. Oh, and as for cheating on my wife–I’m way too ugly.

Michael Coren’s newest book Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart & Mind over Same-Sex Marriage will be released on April 26.


24 Responses

  1. OgtheDim says:

    Welcome back to the path Mr. Coren. There’s a lot more of us evangelical types along with you then the traditional evangelical leaders would care to admit. Prayers and best wishes.

  2. OttFatherofTwo says:

    Coren publicly stated years ago that his wife is more spiritual and more intellingent than him. She remains a faithful Catholic and doesn’t agree with his new “ideas” in his new book. He has failed to even convince his saintly wife – but he is popular on mainstream media now!

  3. vampchick21 says:

    Enjoy Pride! I’ve never gone (have a hate of large crowds, even fun ones, personal space issues) but it always looks like an amazing time!

    Seeing someone’s development from one stance to a completely different one, and hearing from them, even as brief as this article, as to why they changed how they viewed something is quite interesting.

    Hopefully those who are lashing out at you and your family for the change in your point of view sooner or later realize how they themselves are ruled by hate and make the necessary changes.

    Frankly, I’ve never once understood that negative point of view of the LGTBQ community, never understood the hate against them, the bashing, the fear, the attacks both verbal and physical. I was raised up Roman Catholic as well, educated by nuns, and none of that was part of my upbringing in any way at all. Maybe I should just thank my family for not raising me to hate.

  4. Jason says:

    We will happily welcome you, Michael. Thank you for your humility and humanity. Now you’re sounding like a true Christian.

  5. rich1299 says:

    I honestly thought I’d never see the day. I used to regularly watch Michael Coren’s TV show, I forget the station it was on but it wasn’t Sun News, this was before Sun News was a thing. I’d watch because while I disagreed with most everything he had to say I respected that he seemed fair and honest. That opinion changed after one of his broadcasts on Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill.

    Coren had called it draconian but argued it was Uganda’s right to make such laws and westerners shouldn’t interfere. But he had misrepresented the extent of the death penalty provisons, it wasn’t going to be just for gay rapists as he said but for consensual repeat offenders and cases where one of the couple was HIV+ (the death penalty was also proposed if someone had gay sex with a disabled person though I can’t recall if that made it into the bill or not). The entire bill was a dystopian horror show directed as much against liberals, political rivals, or anyone in the gov’t’s disfavour as it was against LGBT Ugandans. I assumed Coren had just been misinformed, I certainly didn’t expect him to have studied the bill and political situation. So I emailed him pointing out the mistake and provided a copy of the bill as submitted in the Ugandan parliament, quoting the section on the death penalty. I assumed it was an honest mistake. I know he got my email, he replied to it, but he kept downplaying the fact that the death penalty was for ordinary, consensual gay men and lesbians in later shows.

    That’s what made me lose respect for him, and stop watching his show. I started wondering if I should trust in his honesty and fairness after I realized he knowingly lied to his audience to promote a fairly far right ideology.

    What made Coren’s refusal to acknowledge the truth of how extensive the death penalty proposal was even more galling to me is that around that time I was in frequent contact with the bravest man I’ve ever known, Andrew. He was a gay Ugandan refugee who gave up the pleasures and comforts of Toronto to return to Uganda to fight this bill and protect as many LGBT people as he could. Here’s the first part of his story

    This was originally a much longer post, but to cut it shorter as I talked to Andrew and heard about the horrors he and those he was protecting were living through I kept thinking about Michael Coren and that dismissive attitude towards what was happening in Uganda. The gov’t may not have officially killed anyone under that law but the intense wave of hatred whipped up by it, and the vicious propaganda spread by those evangelicals from the USA, left a significant death toll in its wake. I don’t think anyone will ever know how many died, their families had rejected them, there was no one capable of doing so who cared to count murdered LGBT Ugandans. Andrew and GEHO buried those they could but that was a tiny fraction of the dead at most. Those who lived though it on the ground in Uganda called it a gay genocide, considering some of their neighbours and strangers both were trying to kill them it’s not that big of a stretch. I’m still haunted by Andrew’s updates on life in Uganda, and the images and videos I’ve seen of mobs killing suspected gay men in Uganda and Nigeria. I knew I had no reason to be angry with Michael Coren, there were far worse offenders, at least he denounced the bill even if he thought it was Uganda’s right to kill people for being LGBT, he compared it to our abortion laws. I couldn’t help it, I was just angry and to me Michael Coren was the face of everything wrong with this world.

    A while back I read a column by Michael Coren, it was so unlike the Michael Coren I had seen on TV I assumed it was someone else with the same name. There is someone named Michael Harris who has written for the Toronto Star but I’m pretty sure he was never leader of the Ontario PCs. I was very happy to find out that it was in fact the very same Coren I had been so angry at years earlier. It also reminds me of my parents, when I was a teenager they were very vocally anti-gay, I later learned that was because they suspected I was gay and they thought they could change me by saying awful things about gay men. I waited until I had finished college and had a full time job before I came out to them since I fully expected to be rejected and never see them again, I only told them because I wanted it over with now. It was very hard for them but they didn’t reject me, it took them years but I knew they were trying. Today we’re closer than we’ve ever been, our relationship stronger than I ever thought possible. People can and do change all the time.

    • Jerome Gorden says:

      Coren is a Narcissist. The only thing he cares about is getting attention. Coren will gladly change (or even reverse) his ideology if he feels he is no longer receiving attention from his current followers.

      Coren started to panic the moment he discovered that Sun News was going off the air in one year. He desperately needed an excuse to abandon his hardcore Catholicism and hardcore Conservatism, The Ugandan controversy provided him with the perfect opportunity. The laughable thing is that Coren didn’t just reverse his opinion on homosexuality. He also reversed his opinions on climate change, abortion, euthanasia, and practically every other issue.

      Enjoy the fame Michael. I hope it was worth it…

      • datapicnik says:

        I would suggest that your lack of belief in the possibility of a person to experience a significant change of heart to be more reflective of where you are at this point in your life than Mr.Coren’s. As to the charge of Narcissism, I would proffer that we are all guilty of that, to some extent, in one form or another. The fact that he is someone who elicits media attention simply means that his thoughts, ideas, and beliefs are amplified tremendously and could, understandably, lead one to make the mistaken accusation, but it does not hold up to serious scrutiny. Considering the enormous personal cost to Michael of what he has been through, I would have thought a more accurate, if not cynical, diagnosis would be that he is a masochist. That of course, is itself, nonsensical as he clearly is not. This, I’m afraid to say, must be taken at face value.
        No, I am sorry but you are going to have to confront and deal with the fact that people can change. Change is growth, even if on the surface at one particular point in time it might not appear to some as such, but it always is.
        I am not a Christian so, in a sense, ‘I don’t have a dog in this fight’, but I am a serious student of human nature and know enough keynote indicators of real transformation, and Michael has passed the ‘acid test’. Love over legalism. If only everyone of every faith would embrace that thought we’d be on a much better course.

      • B.HusseinNoBama says:

        Exactly right!

  6. IprayIam says:

    [I lost… all of my speeches]

    Mr. Coren lost not a few speeches because he left the Catholic Church. Yet for over a year he continued to take speaking engagements under the tacit reputation of a Catholic, knowing he was being booked specifically for that reason. He did so without ever correcting the discrepancy he was aware of. He accepted money from speaking engagements for the better part of a year in bad faith, yet he continues to complain about it.

    If Coren wanted to leave the Church, fine. If he wanted to do it privately, again fine. But to do it while still collecting income and giving speeches as a Catholic public figure was dishonest, a fact that Coren has simply never acknowledged.

    Coren continues to speak about how much more loving the other side is, but endlessly attacks his detractors with scorn, derision, and mocking.

    I am not defending hate directed toward him, nor accusing Coren of the same level of vileness as his worst attackers. However, Coren’s perspective of his own martyrdom is a bit myopic, to say the least.

    • Thunderbuck says:

      Even in the Catholic Church, there is room for discussion of LGBT issues, and Pope Francis himself has strongly implied that one can support this community and still be a “good” Catholic. Shame that you are unable to as well.

      • IprayIam says:

        Understood. That’s completely beside the point of my comment. Mine has nothing to do with the LGBT issue. The fact is that Michael Coren left the Catholic faith and joined an Anglican Church. Fair enough.

        The sham is that Coren spent over a year collecting paychecks specifically for his public persona as a Catholic, when he had ALREADY left the church. He presented himself as an active Catholic and accepted money for it, when he wasn’t. This was dishonest.

        That’s my whole point. Michael lost a lot of his speaking gigs because of that, but blames it all on the LGBT issue. He ignores the fact that he left the Catholic Church and many people who used to book him were specifically looking to hire Catholic speakers for Catholic audiences.

        Again, my comment has nothing to do with the LGBT thing. If Coren had left the Catholic Church over his personal taste in music, mine would be the same complaint.

        Understand, I’m NOT saying exCatholics have nothing of value to say to Catholic audiences. Just that when you are hired based on a false criterion, you are lying. And when that exCatholic first admits to leaving the faith in an article that calls Catholicism “The Church of Nasty”, ( ) can you really blame Catholic groups for hesitating to book him?

        It is disingenuous to blame the sudden change in bookings completely on his changed views on LGBT. Coren hid his conversion, falsely present himself in public for money, and then fiercely attacked his former church.

        Yet he continues to tell half the story and paint himself a victim for losing his regular gigs, blaming it all on hate instead.

  7. Continues to play the martyr. Didn’t “lose” all those jobs because of your stance on gay marriage so much as your shift from Roman Catholic to Anglican, and from conservative to liberal, which you kept secret for a year while continuing to present yourself in public a$ both. If Sun News was still on the air perhaps you’d still be a check-cashing “conservative”? Or was the timing merely coincidental?

    Father de Souza’s clarification remains the definitive one.

    • BillyHW says:

      Never heard a grown man whine so much in entire my life.

    • Aporia27 says:

      Changing your mind from conservative to liberal is not like an on-off switch. It’s also something that can take time to fully realize and accept. Coren probably kept accepting speaking engagements because at the beginning he still agreed with several conservative Catholic positions. This was his life, and as he changed his mind, it was probably also hard to admit that that was happening. You’re assuming that he had duplicitous intentions here when that’s probably not the case.

  8. SMC_BC says:

    I read half way through his column before rolling my eyes. I stopped when I read the part where he claimed all what he lost because of his ‘new’ belief (if he means to say he lost his SunTV spot because of his “new” beliefs then he is a liar). Coren has become a boor. I’m fed up with Coren’s constant poor me attitude. He betrayed many with his dishonesty that’s why he lost his column. And, in my opinion, based on his past, most of what he claims is happening to him is invented.

  9. J M says:

    Lol! There goes MC with another copy and paste of his tedious victimology rant that he’s been repeating ad nauseam for several months. Lemmings and sycophants call it an ‘epiphany’, but those capable of critical thinking understand that it is a ‘seduction’. Nonetheless, kudos to the Rainbow Brigade for finally conquering one of their most stubborn and long standing detractors.

  10. Ian Lecocq says:

    “There were thousands of re-tweets, likes, follows and comments.” Did I miss something? Was it poor proofing? The screen grab shows 9 re-tweets, 27 likes, a dozen or so comments. Um… there in lies (no pun intended) the problem. Michael is right, a handful of homosexual “clobber verses” are deeply ambiguous (not all, but a handful). But what is not ambiguous, in the Bible, is what constitues lying, misrepresentation, false witness, et all, and of course how Jesus views such and how God responds; oh and the fate of such practitioners, now and eternally. Michael is also right, he has been called a liar (I suppose the more generous marvel and “overlook” his hyperbole). Sure he seems to have had an epiphany from held ideas but I don’t see the epiphany of ideals. Coren still communicates the same, “attacks” the same, responds the same, basks in the light of praise the same and “misleads?/misrepresents?” the same. It’s only that issues and players have switched teams. There has been no real “awakening”, Michael Coren only marches for pride.

  11. Michael MacLeod says:

    Good, that he and his family were threatened. Good, that he lost his job(s)

    Now he knows how it feels when that happens to a gay person, and it happens all. the. time.

    He helped make it happen.

    SO (not) sad contrition is difficult. It’s SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFICULT.

    And anyone who says “I don’t want to play the martyr, but…” is ABSOLUTELY playing the martyr.

  12. T AR says:

    Well, Coren has always been a mouthy bigot and even bigger asshole over the years. Don’t hold your breath on this turd!

  13. Thunderbuck says:

    Thank you, Mr. Coren. I had not followed your “conversion”, so this came as a pleasant surprise to me, too. While not a member of the LGBT community myself, I’ve never been able to understand how homosexuality was ever an intrinsically moral issue.

  14. Kevin John McDonald says:

    Nicely done. Welcome to Pride! I spend a lot of time explaining how I can be Gay and still identify as Christian – often from Sisters of PerpetualIndulgence in other cities who should be inclusive but can be quite anti-Christian (not understanding the difference you stated between the inclusion preached by Christ and the doctrines of a church).

  15. B.HusseinNoBama says:

    Michael Coren will do, or say anything to self-promote, or get a job. It is rather convenient that he now will not shut up about gay marriage — seeing that he was against it (very vocally) when it was legalized — and he just happens to have a book about it that he wants to share with you all. Gay marriage is no longer an issue in Canada, so why do people care what he thinks, or would even bother reading his book on the subject?

    Do you really think that if he was still employed by CTS or Sun News, that this ‘epiphany’ would have taken place? His career was based on bashing the CBC and the Toronto Star. Now, they are his go-to places when he wants to tell the world about how accepting he is to the marriage unions that he was against for the previous 25 years — and have been law for more than a decade. He was way behind the curve on that one, no matter. Did I mention he has a book about it?

    He is a fraud. The fact that there are now so many progressives willing to take him in as one of their own, is sad. He has duped you fools, to sell a book, and you bought his deception.