A Cracker Barrel in eastern Tennessee rejected an effort by a Knox County Sheriff's detective and his church group to hold a meeting at the restaurant, citing a "zero-tolerance" policy for "discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort,” the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Grayson Fritts and members of his independent, All Scripture Baptist church -- where he serves as a pastor -- had scheduled a June 29 meeting at a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, the newspaper reported.
According to Newsweek, Fritts reportedly called for the arrest, conviction and "speedy" execution of people who are members of or who favor the LGBTQ+ community.
However, the restaurant chain was alerted to the meeting by Blake Kitterman, a Cleveland resident who tweeted his displeasure to Cracker Barrel's Twitter account.
"A terroristic group that endorses arresting and executing LGBTQ+ persons (is) hosting an event at your restaurant in my hometown," Kitterman tweeted. "Care to stop this? I’m gay and you have the power to ensure me and my boyfriend are safe from these extremists.”
Cracker Barrel, based in Lebanon, Tennessee, responded with a tweet and statement that said it was not affiliated with Fritts or his church.
"We disagree strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness," restaurant officials said. "We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same."
Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler said a fear of First Amendment lawsuits has prevented him from firing Fritts for his comments, which were delivered in a June 2 sermon, the News Sentinel reported. Fritts agreed to take a voluntary buyout May 15, before he delivered his sermon, the newspaper reported.
Spangler said Fritts was on paid sick leave until the buyout goes into effect July 19, according to the News Sentinel.
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