A pastor who presided over the Oklahoma Senate’s morning prayer last week gave his thoughts on why things such as natural disasters and school shootings happen. His message? Blame the gays.
“[Nikolas Cruz] went into a school and killed 17 of our people. Our kids. What is going on?” Pastor Bill Ledbetter of the Fairview Baptist Church asked senators, according to NewsOn6.com. “Do we really believe we can create immorality in our laws, do we really believe that we can redefine marriage from the word of God to something in our own mind and there not be a response?”
Upon hearing his remarks, at least one senator walked out in protest. Other local news outlets reported that both Democrats and Republicans walked out.
Responding to the pastor on Thursday, Senate Democrats released a statement saying Ledbetter’s words were “hateful” and promoted “his personal political agenda.”
“This morning, Pastor Bill Ledbetter of Fairview Baptist Church in Durant, who has served as guest chaplain for the week at the invitation of Senator Josh Brecheen, delivered a sermon which was hateful and promoted his personal political agenda,” Senate Minority Leader John Sparks (D) said. “There is no place for intolerance and hate in the Senate Chamber or anywhere else in Oklahoma. As senators we were elected to serve all people in Oklahoma and we should not condone or encourage divisive rhetoric which targets any Oklahoman.”
After calling for Ledbetter to apologize, Democrats demanded Senate leadership to “ensure future guest chaplains are respectful when addressing” the Senate chamber.
But when addressing the matter, LGBT civil rights advocates didn’t mince words.
“This was about bigotry and vitriol and hatred and further division in our society,” said Troy Stevenson, the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma. “It’s not just awful because it insults marriage equality, it’s awful because he is invoking the name of dead teenagers and victims of horrible crimes around the country, and using that to further a political agenda. It’s disgusting.”
The controversy comes after the Oklahoma House of Representatives came under fire for trying to block non-Christians from delivering invocations.
Watch a report on the story below, via KFOR:
Featured image via screen grab