Cracker Barrel denies pastor's church event at restaurant after he says LGBT people should be killed
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Cracker Barrel denied a planned church event at one of its restaurants of a Tennessee pastor, who is also a former detective, after he preached that the government should execute LGBT people, the restaurant chain said Tuesday on Twitter.
Former Knox County sheriff's Detective Grayson Fritts is pastor of All Scripture Baptist Church in Knoxville. He was supposed to have an event at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Cleveland, Tennessee on June 29.
But the restaurant chain said in a tweeted statement that it is not affiliated with the church or its pastor, and that it will not be hosting the event.
"Cracker Barrel is not affiliated in any way with Mr. Fritts or All Scripture Baptist and we disagree strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness," the Tennessee-based company said. "We are not hosting any event on June 29, and Mr. Fritts and his group will not be permitted on site."
In sermons posted on the church's Facebook page, Fritts preaches that gay people should be arrested and executed.
"Our corporate policy strictly prohibits any type of protest or public demonstration on our property or in our stores, and we have advised All Scripture Baptist that their event will not be allowed at Cracker Barrel," the company said. "We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same."
Cracker Barrel's response follows a letter Tuesday from Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini to the chain's CEO about the church's planned event at its restaurant.
"At Cracker Barrel, we work hard to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive -- we have a zero-tolerance policy for discriminator treatment or harassment of any sort," the restaurant chain said. "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 to everyone."
Fritts has said his beliefs didn't affect his work in the sheriff's office. He took a buyout and no longer works there. District Attorney Charme Allen is reviewing pending cases investigated by Fritts.
In response to Cracker Barrel's statement, All Scripture Baptist Church said they were only going to Cracker Barrel for "meeting and eating" and called the restaurant chain hypocrites.
"If the 'LGBT' community hosted an event there and Christians complained they wouldn't ban the 'LGBT' group, they would tell us they don't 'discriminate' against anyone," the church said in an emailed statement. "But hey, it's their business. They can have a double standard if they want to."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.