cracker barrel homophobic pastor

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Homophobic pastor blocked from hosting event at Cracker Barrel

The chain has turned away from its ant-LGBTQ past.


Samira Sadeque


Posted on Jun 20, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 10:13 am CDT

A church affiliated with a homophobic pastor will not be allowed to host an event at Cracker Barrel, a restaurant franchise with a history of anti-LGBTQ policies.

Pastor Grayson Fritts of All Scripture Baptist Church, who is also a detective at a sheriff’s office in Knoxville, Tennessee, is under investigation after a video surfaced showing him calling for the death of gay people earlier this month.

“I’m sick of sodomy getting crammed down our throats,” he said in an explosive speech, his voice sporadically rising to a scream. “It’s infecting our nation people.”

“He said they should surely be put to death,” he continued later. “Just kinda driving home the death penalty for someone being a homosexuality.”

After the speech surfaced online, Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said the county was looking into Fritts.

On Tuesday, Twitter user @blake_kitterman called out Cracker Barrel for an event the church had scheduled at a franchise location in Cleveland, Tennessee. According to screenshots shared by Kitterman, the event was scheduled for June 29.

The event, titled “Small town soul winning, Cleveland,” did not show up in the Daily Dot’s Facebook search on Thursday morning. 

Knoxville residents had planned to protest the scheduled event, Knox News reported.

Cracker Barrel promptly responded to Kitterman on Twitter, denying any affiliation with Fritts and saying the restaurant “disagree[s] strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness.”   

“At Cracker Barrel, we work hard to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive—we have a zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort,” the chain’s statement said, adding that the church was told its event could not be held at the Cracker Barrel location.

But Cracker Barrel was once known for denying employment based on sexual orientation. A policy the chain implemented in 1991 led to backlash and boycotts, according to the Advocate. Now, the restaurant has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and offers resources for its LGBTQ employees. But the revised policies didn’t seem to undo its negative reputation as much as the latest move has.

Cracker Barrel’s progressive attitude is likely influenced by new CEO Sandy Cochran, who the Tennessee Democratic Party has lauded for overseeing improvements at the chain. On Tuesday, the party shared a letter asking Cochran to look into the Fritts’ event. 

It’s not clear where the All Scripture Baptist Church will hold its event now. The church did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.


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*First Published: Jun 20, 2019, 12:01 pm CDT