Steven Anderson, of the Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe, Ariz., right, confronts protesters in front of the Revival Baptist Church of Orlando in Clermont on Saturday. The church held a "Make America Straight Again" event.ed the event. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
Steven Anderson, of the Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe, Ariz., right, confronts protesters in front of the Revival Baptist Church of Orlando in Clermont on Saturday. The church held a "Make America Straight Again" event.ed the event. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel) (Stephen M. Dowell / AP)

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is one of those institutions that serves as a mirror for society.

Sometimes, it feels like all 350,000 of us who live in Lake are jammed into the funhouse at the county fair, where mirrors distort everyone into something ridiculous.


However, the sheriff’s office did Lake County proud when Sheriff Peyton Grinnell ignored pressure and declined to get involved with a hate group masquerading as “Christians” to protest homosexuality.

First a savvy lieutenant, then the sheriff, turned down a request for deputies to provide security for the Revival Baptist Church of Orlando’s “Make America Straight Again” conference. June 14-16. The church, which is in Four Corners off U.S. Highway 27, not Orlando, favors arresting and executing gay people.

This is kind of a mystery. After all, why bother with the “arresting” portion of the program? Is it to lend the distinctly un-Christian strategy a scrap of legitimacy? It is.

Revival Baptist is one of those supposed churches that focuses on one supposed sin and as a result becomes tangled in layers of hypocrisy.

Typically, such churches cling to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion. So far, so good. Then, they want the nation to start imposing laws based on their Bible and beliefs. But what about freedom for Muslims? How fast would heads at Revival Baptist explode if the followers of the prophet demanded that all American women cover their hair with scarves?

So, what they really want is a Christian nation. That’s OK, provided they do it elsewhere. This nation is not Christian and never has been. America’s outlook, clearly delineated in the Constitution, is that your religion is your own business. Worship in peace. Don’t expect the government to force your beliefs onto anyone else, regardless of how strongly you think you are right.

Yet, this crew was mightily annoyed when Grinnell backed his lieutenant and said no to having deputies be paid by a group who hosted an Arizona preacher caught screaming words like “perverts” and “fags” and predicting hell for about 100 gay protesters at their rally recently.

And the timing of the get-together to renew hatred against gays didn’t go unnoticed in the sheriff’s office. It was the third anniversary of the massacre of 49 victims at Pulse, the Orlando nightclub that catered to gays.

In the end, Revival Baptist’s leader Patrick Boyle hired private security to protect them during their event.

That’s as it should be.

Lt. John Herrell, the agency’s spokesman, said one thing should be made clear to Lake residents: “We never, ever, deny police protection to anyone.”

The agency had undercover and uniformed deputies on the scene — “way more,” Herrell said, than Boyle requested, but “without the appearance that we were beholden to this guy or that deputies were working for him.”

The sheriff’s office took only seven phone calls and received two emails from people angry that deputies wouldn’t be working for a hate group and whining that members of Revival Baptist had a First Amendment right to say what they want.

Of course they do.


And so does Grinnell, who took the path that should be favored by real Christians when he declined to be part of a specious persecution of people because of their choice of sexual partner. After all, can anyone name a group of people that Jesus continually hounded and hated? How about a group of people he told his followers to despise and murder?

Jesus was a lover, not a hater, and he surrounded himself with sinners, including tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, one political zealot and a tentmaker — those were the people he chose to help and to carry his message.

After Jesus’ death, Christian believers through the centuries were persecuted for practicing the religion they chose, so it’s no surprise that the U.S. Constitution settled that matter as this country was being formed.

But here we are in 2019, and it’s those claiming to be Christian who are doing the persecuting. My, oh my. How things do change over time. Fake Christians.

Perhaps this bunch of haters could focus on a different sin for a change, one that doesn’t get nearly so much press: adultery. An estimated 50 percent of married couples have violated their vow sometime during their marriage, according to divorcestatistics.info.

Adultery is mentioned clearly and often in the Bible, while homosexuality is rarely mentioned and in passages that scholars find confusing because of the original wording in Greek.

Leviticus, the book of the Bible gay-haters often quote, had something to say about adultery, too. Chapter 20, verse 10: “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife — with the wife of his neighbor — both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.”

Where is Revival Baptist and its sanctimonious cries to follow the exact word of the Bible now?