Last Sunday, just hours after the horrific shooting at the Pulse club in Orlando where 49 innocent victims died, pastor Roger Jimenez praised the shooter. In a YouTube video Jimenez posted, he asked his congregation why they should mourn a group of people who were “gay pedophiles,” and publicly wished more had died. Since then, the fiery young preacher has come under fire for his remarks, but he is not backing down.
His video has since gone viral and has circulated Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms as proof that homophobia is still alive and well in the United States.
Curious folks have visited the website for Verity Baptist Church, which Jimenez started five years ago in his own home. The comments beneath each photo rip him apart for his hatred. One person accused him of “successfully targeting” his wife and children to violence.
“You’ve succeeded in targeting your wife, your children, and every member of your congregation and their families to the wrath of every psychotic violent extremist out there in the world who you deeply offended with your imbecilic insensitive words in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre.”
Another user threw Jimenez’s words back at him, essentially calling him a hypocrite in not so many words.
“You are so anti-Christian. Jesus loved all. He mingled with the lowest of humanity because He loved. We are called to love all people just as He did… I am ashamed to call myself Christian to any LGBT person because of people like you… The church has failed them, shunned them and shut them out. God must be just grieved, especially after Orlando. This man’s brand of Christianity is no different than radical Islam.”
Perhaps Jimenez has more in common with the Orlando killer than he realizes. According to Jimenez’s church website, he was born in Venezuela and through American missionaries, his family “came to Christ.” His family then moved the United States as a young boy.
In a nutshell, there is not much difference between Jimenez and Omar Mateen, or even Mateen’s father, Seddique. He himself could be viewed as an immigrant ideologue preaching violence: a similarity to the Orlando shooter’s father, who has an Islam-related YouTube channel.
According to CBS News, Seddique Mir Mateen, Omar Mateen’s father, hosts a show on a satellite Afghan TV station for Afghans living in the United States. Mateen claims to not understand or know why his son took nearly 50 lives but also believes homosexuality is wrong.
In his videos, Mateen gives the appearance of having a loving, calm family, but a report by the Daily Beast paints a different story. It is the story of a home rife with violence and paranoia, and one that has had its share of run-ins with the law.
The elder Mateen’s message about homosexuality and the LGBT community are similar to those expressed by Jimenez, who publicly wished the government would execute gay men. The only difference, however, is that Mateen suggested man should leave the punishment to God.
“There’s no tragedy. I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a wall, put a firing squad in front of them and blow their brains out.”
One might argue that home-grown terrorists are often first generation Americans whose parents come from countries with outdated societal beliefs. They instill these antiquated religious and social expectations on their children who are exposed to an outside world that is much different that what they’re being taught at home.
That argument oversimplifies the problem, although culture clashes are certainly an issue with first generation Americans who try to be a part of two very disparate cultures.
Yet Jimenez isn’t alone in his hatred for the Orlando shooting victims. Steve Anderson of Tempe, Arizona, echoed Jimenez’s sentiments regarding the Orlando shooting in a YouTube sermon that Fox40 News reports was removed for violating terms of service.
“The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world. Because these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles.”
Those are nearly the same words Jimenez used in his hour-long diatribe praising a killer who swore allegiance to ISIS. In defending his hate-filled speech, Jimenez twisted biblical passages to suit his own convoluted world view. This is a similar tactic adherents of radical Islam use when justifying the killing of “infidels.” There is no room for this type of rhetoric among any religious leaders, be they Muslim or Christian. Hate speech leads to hate crimes.
The issues isn’t just that Jimenez and other homophobic religious leaders are hateful supporters of violence against gay people. It’s that they use religion as a crutch to justify their hatred. Until more people stand up and declare this type of violent rhetoric unacceptable, more shootings like Orlando will happen.
[Photo by David Goldman/AP Images]