Conservative pastors in Florida are organizing a “Make America Straight Again Conference” to collide with the third anniversary of the mass shooting where 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The conference is scheduled to take place this weekend, from Friday through Sunday, and is organized by the Revival Baptist Church Orlando. Organizers announced that they chose this weekend specifically to align with events commemorating the shooting victims.
It was announced in a video with dramatic clips of other pastors denouncing and demonizing homosexuality, with the Rev. Patrick Boyle from Revival Baptist Church calling it a “conference exposing the reprobates” and “against the sodomites and the filth that they’ve been spreading in.”
“We’ve chosen this place and time because this is their gay Pride week in Orlando and they’re gonna be out proud of who they are, and daring someone to say something and we’re gonna go ahead and take ‘em up on it,” Boyle said.
Orlando’s Pride Week is celebrated in October, according to Out magazine, but this week, there were events organized in remembrance of victims who were killed at the gay night club in June 2016 when a man who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State carried out the massacre.
The church event has been widely publicized on the church’s YouTube channel, with Boyle making the earliest announcement in May. YouTube did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comments.
“There’s been attempts to shut our YouTube down,” Boyle says in one video, thanking those who have been “re-posting” their announcements. “They may shut our Facebook down but they’re not shutting the conference down.”
There are currently two events posted on the church’s Facebook page, and it’s unclear whether other event pages were taken down by the platform. While the event titles don’t mention the conference, it’s the first thing on the event pages’ descriptions.
The church’s Facebook page is also active, although it has had some negative reviews since the news broke earlier this week about the conference.
“These hate filled folks think it’s OK to use the day that over 100 were killed or injured to judge others for the way they were born,” one user wrote on the page on Tuesday. “These are truly sick people who are involved in a cult and no one should support this kind of bigotry and intolerance.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comments about why the event pages remain posted.
In one of the event pages, one user commented, “The only thing you are reviving is the ignorance and hate of the past centuries and using the bible as an excuse for it. To have the audacity to hold this event around the anniversary of Pulse, causing the innocent grieving families more harm just shows your hypocrisy….false prophets abound in religion nowadays and you are more of the same.”
But there continues to be hateful and homophobic rhetoric spewed on the platform.
“I hate f*gg*ts and they shouldn’t be allowed around children,” commented one user.
The YouTube channel has also received similar comments. While some resisted the idea of the event, they were widely outnumbered by those supporting it.
“Let’s hope some monsoon rains come and wash all the sodomite protesters down the storm drains,” one person commented.
Their commentary easily slips from hateful to violent, and it’s no surprise. The speakers featured at the conference, such as the Revs. Steven Anderson and Roger Jimenez, have a history of violent homophobic commentary. Anderson had celebrated the Pulse massacre, as Raw Story reports. As seen in the event’s promo video, Jimenez has also said he wasn’t sad when they were killed because he is “not sad when pedophiles and rapists die.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to the Revival Baptist Church for comments and will update the story if they respond.