GRAPHIC: Tenn. deputy, pastor calls for LGBTQ executions in sermon

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) — An embattled Tennessee sheriff's deputy, who also is a Knox County pastor, on Wednesday defended a sermon he gave filled with anti-gay, derogatory language during a church service, WVLT reported.

Grayson Fritts outside of All Scripture Baptist Church / Source: WVLT News

WARNING: The following story contains offensive language.

Grayson Fritts, pastor of All Scripture Baptist Church, told his congregation he was upholding principles of the Bible and called other Baptist preachers "weak and spineless" for not doing the same.

"Just as much as God loves, God hates," he said.

Fritts said he never called on civilians to commit violence against members of the LGBTQ community. He told his congregation Wednesday that responsibility lies with the government.

He finished his commentary by saying "put homos to death."

Someone left a note outside the church before service started. It was quickly picked up by a congregant and taken inside the church building. It said, "Dear Pastor Fritts, I don't know what happened to you, but I am so sorry. Love, Thy Neighbor."

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen announced she would review all pending cases involving Deputy Fritts as a witness.

"I find this speech personally offensive and reprehensible," Allen said. "As district attorney, 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.

"Although my office has never received a complaint regarding Mr. Fritts prior to this incident, I have assigned an assistant district attorney to receive complaints regarding closed cases, and I will act on those complaints as justice dictates."

Fritts' sermon defensive Wednesday followed his June 2 statements, when he called on police to enforce a Bible passage from Leviticus that prescribes death as punishment for being a member of the LGBTQ community. Other passages in Leviticus call for harsh punishment for actions like wearing garments made of mixed fabrics, eating seafood without fins or scales, eating insects without jointed legs, and trimming beards.

Fritts' sermon prompted an investigation by the Knox County District Attorney's Office.

That sermon also contained violent and belittling statements. He has been a pastor at the church for two years.

The church clearly outlined its beliefs on its website, using anti-gay speech and saying members of the LGBTQ community were not allowed to join or attend. The website also condemned Calvinism and expresses its belief in the end times.

The sheriff's office said that days before delivering the sermon, Fritts asked for early retirement from the department. Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler said Fritts made the request two weeks prior to June 12.

"Detective Fritts turned in his request for The Knox County Voluntary Workforce Reduction Buy Out approximately two weeks ago," Spangler said. "I accepted his request. Detective Fritts is no longer on active duty with the Knox County Sheriff's Office, he is currently on paid sick leave until the effective date of the workforce reduction which will be July 19, 2019.

"I want to be very clear that it is my responsibility to ensure equal protection to all citizens of Knox County, Tennessee under the law, my oath and the United States Constitution without discrimination or hesitation. Rest assured that I have and will continue to do so."

Fritts was named detective of the month by Knox County Sheriff's Office in 2017 after taking a suspect in a violent home break-in into custody within 24 hours.

Read the full story on WVLT's website. WARNING: story contains additional offensive language.

Copyright 2019 WVLT and Gray Television Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Anoymous person drops off pride flag outside of church where a KCSO deputy made inflammatory comments about the LGBT community / Source: WVLT News
All Scripture Baptist Church / Source: WVLT News
Grayson Fritts preaches at All Scripture Baptist Church / Source: WVLT News
Grayson Fritts leads Wednesday night service, defending a previous sermon where he preached that homosexuality should be punishable by death.