Watch: Texas Preacher Calls for Pride's Abolition, Death for Gays

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday June 5, 2022
Originally published on May 31, 2022

Watch: Texas Preacher Calls for Pride's Abolition, Death for Gays
  (Source:Screencap/City of Arlington)

Preacher Jonathan Shelley spoke at a city council meeting in Arlington, Texas recently where he called for the abolition of Pride and the killing of LGBTQ+ people, Newsweek reports.

Shelley spoke for about three minutes, finding time in that short span to regurgitate a hit parade of slurs, smears, and falsehoods about the LGTBQ+ community. His comments were recorded on video and "shared on Twitter by blogger and activist Hemant Mehta," Newsweek detailed.

Amid the jumble of biblical quotes and baseless accusations that constituted Shelley's screed, a main theme emerged: A call for the city to reject a proclamation of June as Pride month, which the city has celebrated since 2020.

Shelley told the council that he was "horrified and ashamed" that Arlington might "solicit Pride," and cited biblical passages in an argument that, "according to God, we should hate pride — not celebrate it."

As if in illustration, the preacher's rhetoric grew more hate-filled as he continued speaking.

"I don't understand why we celebrate what used to be a crime not long ago," declared the preacher, who was brought in to Stedfast Baptist Church after the church's last pastor, Donnie Romero, resigned in 2019 amid allegations that he had cheated on his wife with a prostitute.

Shelley noted that a law against sexual activity between people the same gender is still on the books in Texas, despite the Supreme Court having struck down such laws in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas.

"God has already ruled that murder, adultery, witchcraft, rape, bestiality and homosexuality are crimes worthy of capital punishment," the pastor asserted.

Shelley read out quotes from the Old Testament's Book of Leviticus and the New Testament's Romans I that called for gay men to be killed. He followed up with a quote from 2 Peter that made reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which some evangelicals hold were punished for the "sin" of homosexuality. (Theologians who disagree argue that the sin being punished was, in fact, inhospitable treatment by the city's residents of a pair of angels dispatched by God. The Book of Ezekiel states as much, pointing out that the people of Sodom "did not give any help to the poor and needy.")

Segueing from a reference in 2 Peter to "the filthy conversations of the wicked," Shelley pivoted to a string of more modern anti-gay slurs.

Citing the CDC, Shelley noted that men who have sex with men (MSM) have a higher incidence of HIV, while ignoring the CDC's observation that "Social and structural issues — such as HIV stigma, homophobia, discrimination, poverty, and limited access to high-quality health care — influence health outcomes and continue to drive inequities."

But his firehose of smears and falsehoods allowed for no such nuances as Shelley went on to insinuate that acknowledging Pride month would "promote disease and AIDS in our community" before holding up a sheaf of papers he called "self-reported crime" and asserting that the average gay person has "twenty to a hundred and fifty children victims."

The preacher doubled down on that baseless claim, saying, "They commit an average of 54 acts on their victims.

"Now, here's the thing," Shelley added. "They say that they 'love' so much, but they hate children. They hate Baptists. they hate Christianity, they hate God."

Shelley himself recently vowed not forsake his own expressions of hatred, declaring in a sermon earlier this month that he would refuse to refrain from hurling the anti-gay slur "fag" and adding he would not "negotiate with terrorists" when it came to the issue.

"And what man has a problem with me using the word fag?" Shelley asked his congregation. "You must be a fag then. There's only two kinds of people, people that hate fags and people that hate the word fag. I know which one I am."

To watch a video of Shelley's diatribe to the Arlington city council, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.