- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Roger Jimenez, the baptist pastor who praised Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, doubled down on his comments Tuesday amid a firestorm ignited by his recent anti-gay remarks.

Despite being disavowed by local leaders for delivering a scathing sermon in the wake of Sunday’s terror attack at a gay nightclub, the pastor of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento stood by his comments when interviewed Tuesday by a local NBC affiliate.

“I don’t regret anything that I said, and I don’t take back anything that I said,” Mr. Jimenez told KCRA News.

“This is not something that we as Christians need to be mourning,” he said of Sunday’s massacre.

Hours after a gunman entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando and slaughtered dozens of patrons, the preacher declared during Sunday evening service that Christians “shouldn’t be mourning the death of 50 sodomites,” and said Orlando was “a little safer” as a result of the terror attack.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said in response that the pastor’s comments “do not reflect Christian values,” and protests are slated to occur outside Verity Baptist Church when Mr. Jimenez is expected to deliver his next sermon Wednesday evening.

Amid the backlash brought by his remarks, however, the pastor stood his ground when interviewed Tuesday by KCRA and accused the media of misinterpreting the message behind Sunday’s sermon.

“The point that I was making is the Bible teaches us that these people deserve to die,” he said of homosexuals.

“I was just calling for normal people to stand up and say, ‘You know what, enough is enough. We’re sick and tired of it. We think it’s disgusting, and we’re not going to mourn it. It’s not a tragedy because they deserved to die.’”

On Verity’s website, the church says it considers sodomy to be “a sin and an abomination” punishable by death, and that homosexuals are prohibited from attending its services. Verity describes itself as an “independent, fundamental, soul winning, separated, King James Bible believing Baptist church,” that attracts upwards of 200 attendees each Sundays, according to the pastor.

Sunday evening’s blistering 45-minute sermon was uploaded to the church’s YouTube channel but subsequently removed for being in violation of the video-sharing website’s policy against hate speech.

Responding to the uproar caused by his remarks, Mr. Jimenez indicated to KCRA that the backlash epitomizes an apparent infringement of his constitutionally protected rights.

“The government and the media is going to be using this event to push their agenda, which is to take away gun rights, which is to limit freedom of speech,” Mr. Jimenez said.

“Because in America, you’re no longer allowed to have an opinion. In America, you’re no longer allowed to say anything that doesn’t follow what mainstream media tells you what you’re allowed to say, or else, you know, they’re going to try to take your sermon off YouTube, or they’re going to try to take down your website.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told the Sacramento Bee this week that Mr. Jimenez’s remarks were “theologically erroneous,” adding: “I condemn his entire presentation.”

A protest scheduled to occur outside of Verity on Wednesday evening was expected to draw dozens, and a second demonstration is currently slated for Sunday morning.

“I don’t want (Jimenez’s) bigotry and hatred to be representative of how Sacramento is mourning this tragedy,” Sacramento resident and likely protester Natasha Fernandez told the newspaper. “I think there’s too many of us in the community right now who are with Orlando and who stand with Orlando, and we will not let this intolerance represent our city.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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