Tennessee sheriff's deputy Grayson Fritts is in hot water for allegedly giving a sermon at his church calling for the government to arrest and execute members of the LGBT community.
The Knox County Attorney General's Office announced that it is investigating the sermon from the detective, delivered to All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville, where he is a pastor. As Knox News reported, Fritts told the congregation that police at all levels of government should arrest, try, convict, and "speedily" execute people from the LGBT community for any reason, including having a picture on their cell phone from a Pride Month event.
Fritts also spoke out against pop singer Taylor Swift, who has written in support of measures that would outlaw discrimination against LGBT people.
"It's infecting our nation, people," he said, adding that he purportedly believes it is the government's job to enforce biblical rules against homosexuality. "The federal government, the police, should enforce Leviticus 20:13."
The report noted that Fritts had already asked to join a county buyout to leave the position. The detective has not been on the job, taking sick leave until the buyout takes effect on July 19, the report noted.
It was not clear if Fritts could face any charges for the sermon or if he could be disciplined from the county, including whether his job buyout could be withdrawn.
The anti-LGBT sermon from Fritts has attracted some national attention, with many putting pressure on local officials to take action against him.June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York, a seminal moment in LGBT rights history. This month has kicked off celebrations across the world, including Pride parades. Knoxville has a Pride parade and PrideFest scheduled for later in the month. Some members of the community are now worried that Fritts' words could incite violence during these events.
Some local activists noted that Tennessee has already seen violent attacks against the LGBT community, including a 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. As Knox News noted, the gunman said he targeted that church for its acceptance of the LGBT community.But others in the local community are preaching acceptance and even trying to reach out to Grayson Fritts in an effort to help him understand the impact of his words. As a local reporter noted, someone left a small rainbow Pride flag outside his church with a message attached.
"I don't know what happened to you, but I am so sorry. Love, Thy Neighbor."