A Lake County church — whose preacher calls homosexuality “not a normal lifestyle” and advocates for the arrest and execution of lesbians and gays — is planning to hold a three-day “Make America Straight Again” event beginning Friday.
Pastor Patrick Boyle of the Revival Baptist Church of Orlando, which is housed in a small shopping center on U.S. Highway 27 in Four Corners, wouldn’t reveal the location of the gathering because he said he doesn’t want to invite protesters.
A Facebook notice of a protest planned for Saturday against the event lists 38 people as saying they’re going and 155 interested as of Thursday afternoon.
An organizer posted about hoping for “at least a small band of us to stand outside the church in firm (yet loving) opposition to blatant discrimination and intolerance.”
“It looks like a hate group, and we decided we didn’t want to be involved,” Lt. John Herrell said. “We reserve the right to turn down a request [to hire off-duty deputies] for any reason or no reason.”
The church, which is less than a mile north of U.S. Highway 192, is affiliated with the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, “a title to identify churches and believers from around the world who take the word of God seriously,” according to the group’s website.
Boyle said he was “discouraged” by the agency’s refusal and now plans to hire private security guards for the event. Sheriff’s officials, however, plan to increase patrols in the area while it is underway.
“This isn’t a normal lifestyle and we are adamantly opposed to that,” Boyle said. “The Bible tells us that it’s wrong.”
He said he decided to hold the event during Gay Pride Month but that it wasn’t tied to the three-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman opened fire and killed 49 people and injured dozens of others.
Boyle said his church, made up of about 60 members, has received emails and calls in support of the rally. But he said has also received hateful emails encouraging violence against him and his family.
“We’re asking for a normal lifestyle of a husband and wife and kids, sitting around a dinner table,” he said. “But somehow, we’re the ones who are weird.”
*story by the Orlando Sentinel