Florida Baptist pastor Tom Ascol—who delivered the invocation at Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis' second inauguration—has come under fire after he expressed his belief gay people should be put to death.
Ascol—senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral—made the comment on Twitter while criticizing Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz's condemnation of Uganda's "Anti-Homosexuality Act." Cruz's views have drawn widespread condemnation and highlight the ongoing tensions surrounding LGBTQ+ rights, religious extremism and hate speech.
Ascol took to Twitter to respond to Cruz's criticism of Uganda's law, which imposes the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality."
Ascol cited a King James interpretation of an Old Testament verse from Leviticus 20:13:
"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."
"Was this law God gave to His old covenant people 'horrific and wrong'?"
You can see Ascol's tweet below.
Ascol's statement was met with outrage from both LGBTQ+ advocates and the wider community.
It is important to note the majority of contemporary Christians do not adhere to such extreme interpretations of scripture and reject the notion God condones violence or discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. But a very vocal minority of primarily Evangelical Christians embrace homophobia, transphobia and Christian nationalism.
Many condemned his interpretation of the Bible and accused him of promoting hate speech.
This is not the first time Ascol has expressed extreme views.
He has previously stated that women who have abortions should be imprisoned for murder.
Ascol was also involved in authoring The Dallas Statement, which denounced same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage as against "God's design." The statement rejected the acceptance of LGBTQ+ Christians and dismissed gender fluidity, intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory as inconsistent with biblical teachings.
The condemnation of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act has exposed divisions within religious conservative circles. While some religious conservatives, like Ascol, have praised such laws, others vehemently oppose them.
Critics argue that these laws contribute to the marginalization, discrimination, and persecution of LGBTQ+ individuals, both in Uganda and globally.