By Jerika L.H.
People from all across California will again rally today in protest of Pastor Roger Jimenez – the Verity Baptist Church minister who has been dubbed “the Homophobic Preacher” by many in the public at large. Pastor Jimenez’s anti-gay rant which recently went viral documented him exclaiming his regret that the Orlando shooter did not “finish the job.” Jimenez preached that Orlando was actually safer after 50 members of the LGBTQI community were massacred. He specifically stated, “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? … Um no, I think that’s great! I think that helps society.” He continued on to say that “these people are predators. They are abusers…I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put the firing squad in front of them and blow their brains out.”
Although many have been picketing in front of the Verity Baptist Church throughout the week to protest Jimenez’s hateful message, today’s gathering expects several thousand people. Jimenez will give another Sunday sermon and has requested the presence of others to support him during the counter protest. His Facebook event states, “Pastor Roger Jimenez is in the midst of persecution for preaching the truth from God’s word, and crowds of wicked people will be protesting Verity Baptist Church this Sunday. Show your support for Pastor Roger Jimenez by attending services this Sunday morning, June 19, 2016. Let’s break the Sunday morning attendance record and show the world that there are still 7,000 who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal!” He currently has only 37 attendees.
The rally was initiated by John Hayden and Beverly Kearney – two local friends who were outraged to hear such hate speech generating from their own backyard. The event has been shared countless times and has seen overwhelming support. Hayden states, “When I created this event last weekend my intention was to gather some friends and peacefully to protest Pastor Jimenez. I had no idea that this event would grow to this size this quickly. However, I am glad it has. We now have a force strong enough to make the statement that the LGBTQI community will not sit idly by while hatred and ignorance are preached. We must remain vigilant in keeping the rights and freedoms we’ve attained and do so by protesting and rallying in a loving and peaceful way. I’m very thankful for all of the assurance and volunteers that have helped me orchestrate this demonstration. I’ve received phone calls, emails, and messages of support and which helps keep the momentum going.” Founders and volunteers have prearranged for police and security to be on site throughout the rally to assure that no one is harmed. Although emotions are high, Hayden and Kearney have stressed the point that today’s demonstration will be nonviolent.
While many in the community were shocked to hear that a local church was making headlines in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, co-creator Beverly Kearney finds Pastor Jimenez’s statements to be representative of homophobic sentiments found throughout the country. “We face this type of hate and discrimination every day. LGBTQ people are murdered every day for being who they are. We all need to take a stand and let people know that this type of hate will not be tolerated and there is no place for it in 2016. We must spread love in the face of hatred and bigotry. Those who were murdered in Orlando, and before then, deserve honor and love.” Kearney is also a founder of the Love Is Love Movement which preaches acceptance for all forms of love.
Although grossly outnumbered, the Verity Baptist Church is standing firm in their support for Jimenez’s views. Many in his small congregation have requested that followers and supporters call local law enforcement to complain about Jimenez being harassed. Pastor Steven L. Anderson posted a video of himself to express solidarity with the North Highlands church. He urged others to join Verity Baptist to oppose “sodomites” and stand against the LGBTQI lifestyle. While many criticized Anderson for recording the video while driving and distracted, most others are shocked by the content.
The Vanguard will be on site to see how things play out.