MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. - In his latest televised sermon, McMinnville minister Ben Bailey may have gotten more than he bargained for.
“God does not approve of homosexuality or gay marriage… that is vile, unnatural, deserving of a penalty… it’s an abomination that under the Old Testament deserved stoning,” he said on The Gospel of Christ TV show Sunday.
The Central Church of Christ has now been getting national backlash after bloggers got their hands on the video and circulated it around the internet. The reference to stoning seemed to be what incensed them the most.
“I think you're seeing a number of people across the country reacting to this vicious form of theology that distorts what's best about religion,” said Tennessee Equality Project’s Chris Sanders.
Bailey spoke with NewsChannel 5 Thursday and said he doesn’t advocate violence against gay people today.
“It was a penalty, it was a serious sin. Of course we never said Christians ought to do that today,” he said.
But Sanders said his rhetoric was harmful.
“In his theology, which I think is a kind of science fiction theology, God told one group of people at one point you can kill this group of people. To us that's still unacceptable,” Sanders said.
Bailey argued he preaches love to the LGBT community.
“We want to love them, we want to help them, we want to do good to them, we want to teach them,” he said.
He called Sanders Wednesday to set the record straight.
“I really appreciate the fact that he called and wanted to clarify what his views were. We still didn't come to an agreement,” Sanders said.
Sanders said leaders like Bailey have a responsibility after hate crimes against LGBT members went up 14 percent last year in Tennessee. He pointed specifically to the murder of Gizzy Fowler, a transgender woman in North Nashville.
“They [violent acts] have an origin in hateful rhetoric,” said Sanders.
Bailey did not disagree. However he said it’s out of his hands.
“I cannot control what people do,” he said.