KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - An embattled Knox County sheriff’s deputy, who also is a pastor, on Wednesday defended a sermon he gave filled with anti-gay, derogatory language during a church service, WVLT reported.
WARNING: The story and video contain 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 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. The 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.