Sacramento pastor, amid backlash, defends sermon praising Orlando killings

A YouTube video in which a Sacramento Baptist church pastor praised the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida and called the victims pedophiles and predators was removed Tuesday for violating the website’s policy on hate speech.

The pastor, however, defended his comments Tuesday in response to the expressions of outrage. 

The videotaped sermon by Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church  touched off a firestorm of controversy shortly after it was posted on Sunday. In it, Jimenez said that when he learned the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history had occurred at a gay club, he wasn’t sad. In fact, he felt quite the contrary.

“I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight,” he told his congregation, equating members of the LGBT community to sexual predators. “The tragedy is more of them didn’t die…. I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job!”

Jimenez also said if it were up to him, gays and lesbians would be lined up against a wall so a firing squad could “blow their brains out.”

The reaction to the sermon has been swift and fierce.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson condemned Jimenez’s words.

“The hateful comments made by a preacher in Sacramento do not reflect Christian values and have no place in our society. #standwithorlando,” he tweeted.

But in an interview outside his home Tuesday, Jimenez told a Sacramento Bee reporter that his sermon was not meant to incite violence against LGBT people.

“All I’m saying is that when people die who deserve to die, it’s not a tragedy,” he told the Bee.

A group of 700 area pastors known as the Sacramento City Pastors Fellowship issued a statement responding to Jimenez’s sermon, the Bee reported. The statement said:

"These comments, applauding the death of innocent people, are completely contrary to the Bible's teaching and God's heart…. His statements do not represent Jesus nor hundreds of Sacramento pastors whose hearts have been broken and are praying for the loved ones so tragically affected by this cowardly act."

Meanwhile, a change.org petition was started to have Jimenez removed as the head of his own church. And by Tuesday morning, YouTube had removed the sermon altogether, calling it hate speech. The church regularly posts sermons by Jimenez on its YouTube page.

YouTube users have responded angrily to many of the church’s videos in the last 24 hours, calling Jimenez a racist and a bigot.

A new video that features an excerpt from the banned sermon was posted Tuesday morning.

His church did not immediately return a request for comment.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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UPDATES:

2:21 p.m.: This post was updated with comments by the pastor on Tuesday.

This post was originally published at 10:12 a.m.

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