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Property owner asks Verity Baptist Church to leave after pastor praises Orlando massacre

Property owner asks Verity Baptist Church to leave after pastor praises Orlando massacre
Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church delivers a sermon. (YouTube)

The property owner of a business park in Sacramento has asked a church to relocate after its pastor posted a video on YouTube praising the Orlando, Fla., mass shooting at a gay nightclub that left 49 victims dead.

Though Verity Baptist Church's lease with Harsch Investment Properties doesn't end until March 31, 2017, the company has asked the church to move immediately without any penalty for breaking the lease agreement, the company said in a statement.

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"We have many places of worship and other religious organizations in the properties we manage. Like all our tenants, their occupancy rights are protected in their leases, but we will not tolerate tenants who advocate hatred and the taking of innocent lives," the company said. "For decades, the owners and staff at Harsch Investment Properties have supported the LGBTQ community and many other organizations whose missions are to further respect, dignity and the ability for all individuals to live their lives as they wish."

Last week, a YouTube video was published online showing Pastor Roger Jimenez praising the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida and calling the victims pedophiles and predators. The post was eventually removed by YouTube for violating the website's policy on hate speech.

"I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight," he told his congregation the Sunday after the June 12 attack. "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 was 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.

Hundreds organized a protest outside his church through Facebook.

"It disgusts me that this immoral sacrilegious individual is spewing hatred and ignorance, and is condoning murder to his churchgoers who may not be old enough to see what true religion is instead of the brainwashing he is doing," the statement read on the Facebook event page.

A group of 700 area pastors known as the Sacramento City Pastors Fellowship issued a statement responding to Jimenez's sermon, the Sacramento 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."

But the pastor defended his comments, telling the Bee 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.

His church did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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