KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee sheriff's detective and pastor on Wednesday defended statements he made during a sermon calling for the executions of LGBTQ people.
Knox County Sheriff's Detective Grayson Fritts, who is also a pastor at All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville, told his congregation on June 2 that he believes the government should arrest, try, convict and execute LGBTQ people, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel.
“I’m sick of sodomy getting crammed down our throats,” Fritts shouted during his sermon.
Fritts continued, saying that "the federal government, the police or what-have-you, should enforce Leviticus 20:13."
"Send the police in 2019 out to these LGBT freaks and arrest them," Fritts told the congregation. "Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death. Do you understand that? It’s a capital crime to be carried out by our government.”
Watch the sermon below. [WARNING: Disturbing language]
🚨NEW VIDEO: @knoxsheriff's Detective Grayson Fritts - also a pastor - calls for the government to arrest and EXECUTE LGBTQ People.
He's on paid sick leave until July 19, and no longer on active duty. As reported by @knoxnews.pic.twitter.com/lBYLhG1ynx — The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 12, 2019
WVLT reporter Robert Grant sat in on a service Wednesday in which Fritts defended his statements. Fritts reportedly told his congregation that he simply believed in upholding the principles of the Bible, saying, "Just as much as God loves, God hates."
Before the service began Wednesday night, someone left a note attached to a Pride flag outside the church that read: "Dear Pastor Fritts, I don't know what happened to you, but I am so sorry. Love, Thy Neighbor."
Fritts has worked for Knox County since 1999 and was named detective of the month in 2017, reports the News Sentinel.
Fritts is not currently on duty, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Office. Just days before his sermon, Fritts reportedly asked for early retirement from the department. He remains on paid sick leave until his retirement takes effect on July 19.
Sheriff Tom Spangler said in a statement: "I want to be very clear that it is my responsibility to ensure equal protection to ALL citizens of Knox County, Tennessee under the law, my oath and the United States Constitution without discrimination or hesitation. Rest assured that I have and will continue to do so."
As a result of Fritts's sermon, the Knox County District Attorney's Office is encouraging anyone with a complaint about a closed case involving the detective to contact their office. District Attorney General Charme Allen announced she would review all pending cases involving Fritts as a witness:
“I find this speech personally offensive and reprehensible. As District Attorney, my constitutional obligation is to protect the integrity of the justice system. When any potential witness in a criminal proceeding expresses an opinion of hatred and/or bias towards a class of citizens, I am ethically bound to explore that witness’ credibility. Accordingly, I am reviewing all pending cases involving Mr. Fritts to scrutinize them for any potential bias. Although my office has never received a complaint regarding Mr. Fritts prior to this incident, I have assigned an Assistant District Attorney to receive complaints regarding closed cases, and I will act on those complaints as justice dictates.”
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