Grayson Fritts, the pastor of All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., as well as a Knox County sheriff's office detective, was turned away by a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, Tenn., for delivering a sermon earlier this month in which he called for the execution of LGBTQ people.
Fritts and his independent Baptist church had planned to hold a meeting at the Cracker Barrel on June 29, but they have since been barred from meeting at the chain restaurant due to Fritts’ “statements of hate and divisiveness.”
The controversial pastor made headlines when he delivered a sermon at his church, calling for the government to execute members of the LGBTQ community. "They are worthy of death," he said in a June 2 sermon, according to WVLT.
"God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police in 2019 out to the LGBT freaks and arrest them and have a trial for them, and if they are convicted, then they are to be put to death," he said in a recording of the sermon. "We have a bunch of them we're going to get convicted because they have all their pride junk on, and they're professing what they are, that they're a filthy animal."
Following requests from the Tennessee Democratic Party and LGBTQ activists, Cracker Barrel issued a statement on Tuesday saying they would not host the event, and that Fritts and his group "will not be permitted on site."
Cracker Barrel provided the following statement to Yahoo Lifestyle:
“Cracker Barrel is not affiliated in any way with Mr. Fritts or All Scripture Baptist and we disagree strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness. We are not hosting any event on June 29, and Mr. Fritts and his group will not be permitted on site.”
The statement continued: “At Cracker Barrel, we work hard to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive — we have a zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort. We take pride in serving as a home away from home for all guests and in showing our communities and our country that the hospitality we practice is open to everyone.
“Our corporate policy strictly prohibits any type of protest or public demonstration on our property or in our stores, and we have advised All Scripture Baptist that their event will not be allowed at Cracker Barrel. We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same.”
Knox County sheriff, Tom Spangler, while denouncing Fritts' views, stated he would not be fired for his comments due to a fear of First Amendment-related lawsuits. Instead, Fritts will remain on paid sick leave from the county sheriff's office until he collects his buyout in July.
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