Leigh Fondakowski and Greg Pierotti, who both identify as gay, go to speak with Father Roger Schmit, Laramie’s Catholic priest. Father Roger tells Leigh and Greg that Matthew Shepard has done an enormous amount for the community. Father Roger then goes on to say that, when Matthew was attacked, Father Roger was afraid. He considered asking the Bishop permission to hold a vigil for Matthew, but then he decided that, regardless of what the Bishop said, holding the vigil was the right thing to do.
Father Roger Schmit expresses an understanding of Catholicism that emphasizes the importance of compassion and consideration above condemning homosexuality. In this, Father Roger’s views seem to deviate from the official views of the Church, showing how the same baseline religion can be interpreted and acted upon in radically different ways.
Father Roger Schmit tells Leigh Fondakowski and Greg Pierotti that, if they do intend to write a play about the murder, they have a “responsibility” to do it correctly. Father Roger informs them that using homophobic slurs is a kind of violence in itself, and he would be highly resentful if, in trying to show Laramie’s bigotry and the violent acts committed against Matthew, the play ended up accidentally providing a model for and inciting hate. Father Roger encourages them to be truthful in their account.
Father Roger’s understanding of violence not only as physical, but also as emotional and cultural, comes through as he emphasizes how important it is that the playwrights do not accidentally provoke hate speech. This expansive view of what constitutes violence (which actually reflects Jesus’s teachings) provides a framework for understanding the genealogy of physical displays of violence.