By now you may have heard of the Knox County (Tenn.) sheriff’s detective who recently called on government to execute LGBTQ individuals.
Pastor/Deputy/Homophobe Grayson Fritts wasn’t speaking as a law enforcement official at the time but rather as leader of an ultraconservative Baptist congregation that follows scripture to the letter.
Fritts preached a pulpit-slapping, karate-chopping, Bible-pounding sermon on Leviticus 20:13 at the All Scripture Baptist Church, in which he called for the death of gay men.
I watched nearly six minutes of the Hitler-esque rant in which Fritts beats the lectern 26 times before I stopped counting. Seriously, the only thing missing was the little toothbrush mustache.
“Because the Bible says the powers that be are ordained of God,” Herr Fritz shouts wishfully. “And God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police … ”
There’s more, but it gets crazy fast. If you listen closely, you’ll be able to hear Woody Woodpecker music in the background.
The Old Testament says a lot of things should be punishable by death, including forms of extramarital sex, gathering sticks on the Sabbath, putting cheese on a hamburger, being a nonvirginal woman on her wedding night, wearing certain types of fabrics, sassing your parents, being a smarta-- newspaper columnist, etc.
Given that Fritts was a serving member of law enforcement at the time of his trash talk for God, I’m betting he sometimes worked on the Sabbath. There’s a good chance that he’s guilty of breaking lots of biblical laws himself.
Leviticus, a veritable fountain of obscenity, was written thousands of years ago by someone who didn’t know the Earth was round, that germs caused illnesses, and biology rather than demons or witchcraft brought seizures.
Fritts and I have something in common. We’re both former police officers (now that he has voluntarily retired) and current churchgoers. Where we differ is what constitutes God’s law.
While it’s clear that he’s itching for the chance to put a bullet in someone’s well-groomed head, I wouldn’t shoot gay people no matter who told me to. If an angel of the Lord appeared and commanded me to do it, I wouldn’t.
Angel • “Verily thou must.”
Me • “Look, what’s-your-face, I’m not…”
Angel • “It’s Bashemhonri.”
Me • “Doesn’t matter. Tell Heavenly Father that if he wants gay people dead, he can kill them himself. He’s omnipotent. I’m just a guy with two hours left on night watch.”
It might seem that because I’m a Latter-day Saint (of a sort) and not Baptist (at all), that it’s easy for me to call out Fritts. But as a great prophet once said (I forget his name), “Stupid is as stupid does.”
That’s why I am just as happy to point out that 156 years ago, people were still confusing their own biases with God’s law.
Brigham Young: “If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.” (Deseret News, March 1863.)
The fact that I’m a free man is a good indication that Latter-day Saints figured out that this was more human wishful thinking than God’s actual law. Hell, I fathered children with a Canadian. According to the Old Testament, I’m probably lucky not to be in jail right now.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.