The Texas Baptist Church – dubbed the “LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – sparked outrage after one pastor said gay men should be “lined up against a wall and shot in the back of the head.”
Pastor Dillon Awes of Stedfast Baptist Church in Watauga, on the outskirts of Fort Worth, made commentary and other controversial remarks during the Sunday morning sermon on “Why We Don’t Shut Down”.
“I am angry this morning because our whole country is celebrating the worst sin in the Bible,” Awes said in a sermon referring to Duma Month, which commemorates the LGBTQ + community every June.
“You know, a lot of pastors have this stupid idea where it goes like this:“ oh, you know God loves everyone. And God hates sin, but loves the sinner. ” But people have gone so far as to say that they are celebrating sin, not just tolerating it, celebrating it, ”he continued. “Let me show you what the Bible says about these people.”
Awes read several passages of the Bible and condemned homosexuality as a sin. At one point he told the congregation that gays “are dangerous to society” and said that “all homosexuals are pedophiles.”
“I’m not saying that every homosexual alive now has committed this act with a child, because maybe they haven’t had the opportunity yet and will be at some point later in their lives,” he said. “That’s why we have to kill these people through the proper government channels… These people are not normal. They are not ordinary sinners on a daily basis … They have no hope of salvation. “
At certain moments, sermons from the crowd could be heard cheering in agreement. Awes told the auditorium that he believed the death penalty was “the solution for homosexuals in 2022”.
“These people should be sentenced to death. Every homosexual in our country should be accused of a crime. The abomination of homosexuality they are supposed to be sentenced in a legal trial. They should be sentenced to death. against the wall and shot in the back of the head, he said.
Many people on social media criticized the pastor and some described his remarks as a brutal threat to the community.
“Encouraging the execution of homosexuals is not a protected speech. Dillon Awes should be considered a domestic terrorist and accused, “wrote one Twitter user.
Another said Awes’s comment “makes the LGBTQ + community a huge target” and the pastor “must be on the FBI watch list.”
Other people complained to the Watauga Police Department, prompting it to issue a statement on Wednesday. While condemning “any news that promotes hatred,” the department said Awes’ comments were protected by freedom of speech.
“First, the Watauga Police Department would like to reaffirm our commitment to making Watauga a great place to live for all people. The Watauga Police Department values diversity and will continue to protect people’s right to express their identity, ”the statement read.
“Any message that promotes hatred of any class or group of people is absolutely against the culture of the Watauga Police Department. The language spoken by the pastor of the Stedfast Baptist Church can be offensive to many people. However, at this time, the reported language of the sermon appeared to be constitutionally protected by freedom of speech. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation. “
Awes could not be reached at the phone numbers provided for him. The church’s chief pastor, Jonathan Shelley, defended Awes, saying in a lengthy statement that America had undermined “the penalties for homosexuality.”
“The Bible teaches that God’s laws have not changed on this point,” Shelley said. “We will not allow the influence of the devil in our culture to stop us from believing in the Bible. Our main goal is not to preach controversial things, but rather to save people. But we will preach everything the Bible says. “
CORRECTION (Jun 9, 2022, 3:24 PM ET) The previous version of this article contained an incorrect spelling of the church name. This is Stedfast Baptist Church, not Stedfast Baptist Church.
Minyvonne Burke is a senior reporter for NBC News.