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Radical Baptist church preaches LGBTQ hate just miles from California's Capitol

Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Religious News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Pastor Roger Jimenez implored his congregation at Verity Baptist Church to separate themselves from the ways of a modern, wicked world.

Burn your Harry Potter books. Trash your rock 'n' roll CDs. Don't vaccinate your babies. Stay away from gay people.

"The United States of America is on a rainbow-colored boat, and we've gotta shake that boat up," Jimenez said.

Speaking to some 400 people in an overflow crowd that included dozens of young children staring intently at Bibles and giggling when pastors yelled, Jimenez was met with shouts of "Amen!" and "Let 'er rip!"

Here in the capital of the state that is the vanguard for the so-called liberal resistance, parishioners gathered last month for the Red Hot Preaching Conference, featuring some of the most virulently anti-gay pastors in the country. Jimenez started the conference in 2016 after gaining national notoriety for praising the mass shooting of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The conference's seven preachers are part of a network of about 30 churches called the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, which, experts on hate and extremism say, is growing and spreading violent rhetoric over the internet in an era when hate crimes against LGBTQ people are increasing.

 

The conference took place in Jimenez's storefront church six miles from the state Capitol. Several pastors, including Jimenez, had called for the U.S. government to start executing LGBTQ people.

"It's certainly not the case that they're in some out-of-the-way place like small-town Alabama," said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled several New Independent Fundamental Baptist churches hate groups. "They're in major cities like Houston, Sacramento, Los Angeles. They have found inroads in places where you might not expect this kind of extremism."

A New IFB church recently opened in El Monte. Another will open in Fresno in August.

The New IFB Movement was started by Steven L. Anderson, a Sacramento native and the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., who garnered headlines in 2009 for telling congregants he prayed for the death of President Barack Obama. A day later, a congregant went to an Obama appearance in Phoenix carrying an AR-15 assault rifle.

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