A Tennessee detective has refused to apologize after he called for the execution of gay people during a church sermon.
Footage of Grayson Fritts, who is also a leader at the ultra-conservative All Scripture Baptist Church in Knox County, was uploaded on the church’s Facebook page – and then quickly taken down.
In the sermon, he says that police and the government should enforce Leviticus 20:13 from the Bible, which says: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Detective Fritts is heard repeatedly calling for the death penalty for gay people in the clip, as well as calling gay people “freaks” and “sodomites”.
“They are worthy of death,” he reportedly added.
He is also heard saying police should take riot vans to pride parades to arrest attendees.
Speaking to reporters, Detective Fritts said he did not believe that his beliefs interfered with his work as a police officer, and refused to apologize for his comments.
He said: “It’s totally separate, because if I’m employed by the sheriff’s office, then if they came into the sheriff’s office, obviously they’re allowed there.
“You understand what I’m saying?” he added. “I am the head of this church. I say who comes and goes. Those people are not permitted to join, those people are not permitted to attend.”
Prosecutors in the state said they will look into Detective Fritts’ work to see if there is any evidence of bias.
In a statement, Charme Allen, a lawyer in Knox County, called the comments “personally offensive and reprehensible”.
The statement added: “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.”
Detective Fritts resigned earlier in the month as part of a buyout deal and is on paid sick leave until his resignation takes effect.
Tom Spangler, a Knox County sheriff, told local media that he was reluctant to fire him over fears that the US first amendment, protecting the freedom of speech, would trigger a backlash.
Mr. Spangler said he was upset over his colleague’s comments.
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