News (USA)

Hate pastor says church must relocate after latest landlord refuses to renew lease

Pastor Jonathan Shelley
Pastor Jonathan ShelleyPhoto: Screenshot/Twitter

After years of calling for the deaths of LGBTQ+ people, Pastor Jonathan Shelly said that his Steadfast Baptist Church will have to find a new location since “nobody really wants to lease to us.”

“We’re actually, unfortunately, gonna have to move again for next year,” Shelly said in a recent video posted to one of his YouTube channels.

With the sound of LGBTQ+ protestors in the background, Shelly told his video’s viewers, “So obviously we’ve been protested, you know, like, every single week for, really, years at this point, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon.”

“The reality is, you know, nobody really wants to lease to us, so it makes it very difficult,” he continued. “I am still working on a few options. We’ve been hit with a lot of legal fees and all kinds of different issues.”

He then told people who want to be a part of his hateful church, “It’s never been a better time. Our church is growing. We have a lot of people that love the Lord.”

Steadfast’s version of “loving the Lord” involves calling for gay people to be shot in the back of the head, accusing them of raping kids, and blaming “sodomites” for school shootings.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the church as a hate group. Locals say the church’s speech increases the likelihood of violence against LGBTQ+ people and their families.

In February, a judge in Hurst, Texas ruled that the church had violated its lease agreement in the town by making threats and creating a dangerous nuisance. The church relocated to the town of Watauga in May, and the town’s queer residents and allies have been protesting ever since to show that their town won’t tolerate the church’s hate.

“It’s not clear where Shelley would find a new home or who would be foolish enough to rent him space,” journalist Heman Mehta wrote of the church’s situation. “No amount of rent money is worth the negative publicity that would come from allowing his church to spread hate on your property.”

In a recent sermon, Shelley said Jewish people, who he called “the synagogue of Satan,” use gay people as pawns “for their own little game” but actually hate them.

Imitating a Jewish religious leader speaking to a gay person, Shelley said, “Hey, you can come to church and tithe if you sit in that back section, and we can’t look at you, and don’t talk to us or hang out, but just give us your money. And we’ll brag about the fact that y’all are here.”

His comments come amid a rising wave of antisemitism in the U.S. as anti-LGBTQ right-wingers increasingly align with anti-Semites. This year, neo-Nazi protesters threatened drag show attendees, activists used images of swastikas to harass LGBTQ allies, and celebrities like author J.K. Rowling and rapper Ye embraced anti-Semitic figures.

 

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