An independent Baptist church preacher in Texas has sparked a social media controversy for his advocacy of the death penalty for LGBT individuals.
Dillon Awes, a preacher at Stedfast Baptist Church in Watauga, Texas, delivered the sermon on June 5 while discussing why he opposes Pride Month. The congregation describes itself as an "independent fundamental King James Only Baptist church" and is not affiliated with any denomination.
"I'm angry this morning, because our entire country is celebrating the worst sin in the Bible," Awes said. "You know, a lot of pastors have this stupid idea where it's just like, 'Oh, you know, God loves everyone.'"
Awes' sermon was partially based on Romans 1.
"Here's why homosexuals are so dangerous to society: They're not like other sinners in the sense that every single day that they are alive, they're being filled with more and more and more unrighteousness," he said.
"All homosexuals," he claimed, "are pedophiles." Additionally, he claimed that all pedophiles are homosexuals.
"I'm not saying that every single homosexual that's alive right now has committed that act with a child already," he said. "Because it could be that they haven't had the opportunity yet, and they will at some point later in their life. This is why we need to put these people to death through the proper channels of the government because the Bible says that they are being filled [with unrighteousness]. … These people are not normal. They're not your average everyday sinners and [are] what the Bible calls reprobate. They're rejected by God. They have no hope of salvation."
Awes emphasized he does not believe people "should take the law into your own hands."
"We believe that they should be put to death by the government," he said.
Awes' sermon included doctrine similar to Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas-based independent church that was founded by the late Fred Phelps. Westboro often made national headlines by picketing funerals and carrying signs claiming "God hates" LGBT people.
Several denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, have distanced themselves from the beliefs of churches like Westboro.
"The tendency today is for people to focus very heavily on the love of God in the New Testament or the wrath of God in the Old Testament," Gary Smith, former professor of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, previously told Baptist Press. "But I see them equally balanced in both Testaments. There are literally hundreds of verses in the New Testament about God's wrath. Try reading the first few chapters of Romans. There are all kinds of verses about God's love, grace and compassion, mercy and forgiveness [also] in the Old Testament."
It's "just ridiculous," Smith said, "to say that God doesn't love" everyone.
Critics of doctrine promoted by Westboro Baptist and Stedfast Baptist point to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, where Paul lists several categories of people, including homosexuals, who will "not inherit the kingdom of God." Paul, though, says they can repent and change.
"And that is what some of you were," Paul writes, indicating that some members of the Corinth church formerly were homosexual. "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Said Smith, "It's obvious that this is not some unpardonable sin that makes it impossible for people to come back to Christ."
Photo courtesy: Brielle French/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.