Restaurant chain Cracker Barrel has canceled a church event hosted by a pastor who called for the execution of gay people.
The US company said it stood for ‘hospitality, not hate’, and condemned ‘statements of hate and divisiveness’.
Pastor Grayson Fritts had organized the event for his congregation at a Tennessee Cracker Barrel in late June.
Fritts, who is also a Knox County police detective, made headlines after holding a sermon where he angrily called for the executions of gay people.
A video of Fritts angrily saying he ‘hates’ homosexuals has been circulation. He told his congregation they should hate gay people as well.
The detective is currently on paid sick from the leave Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
‘The hospitality we practice is open for everyone’
Fritts had organized an event at a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, Tenessee, for his congregation of the All Scripture Baptist Church on 29 June.
After being informed of the event, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini wrote an open letter to Cracker Barrel asking them to reconsider hosting the church group.
In response, Cracker Barrel posted a tweet which read ‘We work hard every day to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive’, along with a statement confirming the event had been canceled and that Fritts and his church group ‘would not be permitted on site’.
‘We take pride in serving as a home away from home for all guests and in showing our communities and our country that the hospitality we practice is open for everyone,’ the company’s statement said.
We work hard every day to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive. Please see our full statement below. pic.twitter.com/1bpsJ0YmCn
— Cracker Barrel (@CrackerBarrel) June 18, 2019
‘We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same,’ the company added.
The company highlighted its zero-tolerance policy on discrimination. They also noted their corporate policy which prohibits any form of protest on Cracker Barrel property.
Cracker Barrel, which is headquartered in Lebanon, Tennessee, is a widely popular breakfast chain in the US. The chain reportedly served over 200 million people each year.
Fritts’ homophobic comments have made international headlines.
The detective said the government should execute LGBTI people who he said were ‘worthy of death’.
His comments were caught on a video which was uploaded to the church’s website, though was later deleted.
Digital media outlet the Tennessee Holler posted a video with excerpts of one of Fritts sermons. In the video, he repeatedly expresses his hatred for homosexuality.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office has said it is reviewing all pending cases and complaints of cases that Fritts worked on.
He is currently on paid sick leave until 29 July. After this, Fritts is due to leave the department on a voluntary workforce-reduction buyout program, CNN reports.