WATAUGA, Texas — A North Texas pastor is under fire for saying gay people should be executed.
The pastors at Stedfast Baptist Church, now based in Watauga, have a history of anti-gay rhetoric.
That continued on Sunday when Pastor Dillion Awes gave a sermon calling for the execution of gay people.
He stated, “They should be convicted in a lawful trial. They should be sentenced with death. They should be lined up against the wall and shot in back of the head. That is what God teaches."
Protesters showed up outside the church including a mom who told our partners at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the message is dangerous.
"I am a mom of a kid in the LGBTQ community, and I am not going to stand for wishing death upon my kid because of who he is," one protester said.
Awes quoted scripture in his sermon but Pastor Rachel Bachman of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church says his message contradicts the teachings of Christianity.
"The gospel message is of love, not hate, and the real atrocity in what is happening in this pastor’s sermon and what is being now propagated to the rest of the community is that it’s a message of hate and there is nothing that stands for hate in our in our Christian gospel," said Bachman.
Watauga police say they’ve received multiple complaints from citizens but say they can’t do much about it.
Police say, “The language used by the Pastor of the Stedfast Baptist Church is likely to be offensive to many people. However at this time, the reported language of the sermon appears to be constitutionally protected free speech.”
Attorney Eric Cedillo says while the pastors words are disturbing, that type of speech is protected under the First Amendment because it’s not an immediate specific threat.
"It’s not specific. It’s not something that is immediate. So, it’s a situation where it may be protected and I think their interpretation is a relatively reasonable one," said Cedillo.
The church issued a statement saying they’ve been vandalized and received multiple death threats for their beliefs.
The Southern Poverty Law Center that monitors extremists groups has labeled the church an anti-LGBTQ hate group and says their rhetoric could incite harm against the gay community.