In response to June’s Gay Pride celebrations, one Florida pastor is sponsoring a “Make America Straight Again” (MASA) conference this weekend. Pastor Patrick Boyle of Revival Baptist Church near Orlando says homosexuality “isn’t a normal lifestyle” and should be illegal.
“The Bible tells us that it’s wrong,” Boyle says of homosexuality, adding that the “government should arrest [homosexuals], try them, and if found guilty, execute them.”
The pastor insists he isn’t “trying to pick a fight” and says the event isn’t tied to the three-year anniversary of the tragedy in Orlando at Pulse, a gay nightclub. Instead, he says, “It’s their Gay Pride month in Orlando, and they’re out there advocating their cause. We have every right to advocate ours.”
Make America Straight Again to Feature Anti-LGBT Speakers
In a promotion video, Boyle says the three-day conference “exposing the reprobates” will feature speakers who “take a stand against the sodomites and the filth that they have been spreading.” One, Steven Anderson, has been banned from several countries for hate speech and has praised the Pulse gunman. Another, Roger Jimenez, equates homosexuals with pedophiles and says he’s not sad when they die.
To discourage protesters, Boyle hasn’t revealed MASA’s location. He’s hiring private security for the June 14-16 conference because the Lake County Sheriff’s Office declined his request to hire off-duty deputies.
“It looks like a hate group, and we decided we didn’t want to be involved,” says a spokesman. The sheriff’s office also calls MASA’s timing in “poor taste.” Because of the “potential for protests,” however, they’re stepping up patrols.
Revival, part of the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, has about 60 members. Facebook posts advertising MASA have sparked angry comments and “love wins” memes. “What a cult,” one person writes. “Please don’t associate or think every baptist church is like this. This is clearly not a bible believing church but rather a church filled with hate.”
Backlash Includes Hate Mail, Counterprotest
Pastor Boyle says he receives supportive correspondence as well as hateful messages directed at him and his family. “We’re asking for a normal lifestyle of a husband and wife and kids, sitting around a dinner table, but somehow we’re the ones who are weird,” he says.
Boyle expects about 300 MASA attendees. A counterprotest is also in the works, with organizer C.K. Blackwood saying, “We need to put a message out that love is greater and love is better.” A Facebook post indicates the counterprotest’s goal is “to stand outside the church in firm (yet loving) opposition to blatant discrimination and intolerance.”
Tennessee Detective-Pastor Calls for Execution of Gays
In related news, a Tennessee pastor who’s also a Knoxville County Sheriff’s detective is under scrutiny for a June 2 sermon calling for governments to “speedily” execute homosexuals. In his hour-long message, titled “Sodomite Reprobates,” Grayon Fritts of Knoxville’s All Scripture Baptist Church (another New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement Church) used anti-gay slurs and denounced Christians who support gay rights.
The local district attorney is now reviewing the veteran detective’s work history. Fritts, who supports Boyle’s MASA conference, has taken a buyout from his job. He insists he isn’t calling for violence and urges other pastors to “grow a spine.”
“If all the facts are confirmed, [Fritts] should not be in law enforcement,” says Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project.