by James Hartley
The pastor of a North Texas church evicted in February from its building for trying to incite violence against the LGBT community is facing protests again after calling for gay people to be executed.
“What does God say is the answer, is the solution for the homosexual in 2022, here in the New Testament, here in the book of Romans? That they are worthy of death,” preacher Dillon Awes of Stedfast Baptist Church in Watauga said in a Sunday sermon.
“These people should be put to death,” Awes continued. “Every single homosexual in our country should be charged with a crime, the abomination of homosexuality that they have, they should be convicted in a lawful trial, they should be sentenced to death, they should be lined up against a wall and shot in the back of the head.”
Brandy Sotillo, the mother of an LGBT child and a woman who herself identifies as LGBT, has been protesting outside the church at every sermon for nine months. She was protesting when the church was based out of Hurst, the location from which they were evicted for breaching their lease and advocating violence against LGBT people, and showed up to the first sermon at the new location in Watauga.
She said she wasn’t surprised by the words she heard in that sermon, but that she has been surprised by how much more support she’s had in her protests outside the church. On Wednesday night, she estimated 40 to 50 people had shown up to join her protest and another 200 had requested to join a Facebook group she runs, No Hate in Hurst.
She said the latest sermon, a video of which has gone viral on social media, was “absolutely horrific to hear.”
The protests came after Jonathan Shelley, another leader of Stedfast Baptist Church, two weeks ago went to an Arlington City Council meeting and said similarly that gays deserved to be killed. He advocated for enforcing an old Texas law outlawing “sodomy” that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003 in the Lawrence V. Texas case and did not carry a death penalty.
“What these people do is filthy,” Shelley said at the council meeting during its public comment section.
He also called gay people pedophiles and used part of the time addressing the council to plug a homophobic political movie he directed and released in 2021.
Shelley told the Star-Telegram he and his congregation were the victims of hatred from the LGBT community because of the protests Sotillo leads and, at the council meeting, said the LGBT community is “bullying people” with Pride Month.
“These protesters have been publicly doxing me on social media by sharing all of my personal information, and trying to harass me as much as possible,” Shelley said in an email to the Star-Telegram when protests picked up after his comments to the city council. “The LGBTQ community is extremely hateful, rebellious, and violent as the Bible describes in Romans 1.”
Shelley also said he does not promote “vigilante justice” against the LGBT community and insinuated that protesters outside his church were potentially dangerous for the church, its property and the property of its neighbors. He compared gay people to murderers, rapists and people who practice bestiality.
In 2016, the church’s then pastor, Donnie Romero, prayed for the victims of the shooting targeting gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, to die. Romero resigned from the church in 2019 after protests at the church.
With the sermon on Sunday calling for the execution of gay people, Sotillo said the protests outside the church will only grow. She doesn’t see herself staying home from protests or stopping organizing them anytime in the near future, as long as Stedfast Baptist Church is there.
Watch the former pastor tell his congregation he is stepping down based upon his prostitution, drinking, gambling and illegal drug use.