Cracker Barrel has prohibited a Tennessee pastor who doubles as a local county police detective, and his church, from hosting an event at one of its restaurants after he said members of the LGBT community are “worthy of death” in a June 2 sermon.
The company, which is based in Lebanon, Tenn., responded after chairwoman Mary Mancini of the Tennessee Democratic Party shared an open letter that she sent to Cracker Barrel CEO Sandra Cochran asking her not to host Grayson Fritts’ event.
“I am writing to inform you that on June 29, 2019, a Cracker Barrel restaurant located in Cleveland, TN, is hosting an event called ‘Small Town Soul Winning,’ for the All Scripture Baptist Church,” Mancini wrote.
“Since you have taken over as CEO of Cracker Barrel, there has been a noticeable improvement in the culture. The restaurants have become a more hospitable place for all Tennesseans, regardless of who we are,” she wrote. “Hosting this type of event is in direct conflict with the culture you are working so hard to build.”
The restaurant chain responded on Twitter by saying that it is “not affiliated” and disagrees strongly with his “statements of hate and divisiveness.”
“We are not hosting any event on June 29, and Mr. Fritts and his group will not be permitted on site,” Cracker Barrel wrote. “At Cracker Barrel, we work hard to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive.”
The restaurant noted that its corporate policy strictly prohibits any type of protest or public demonstration on its properties.
“We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same,” Cracker Barrel wrote.
CBS News reported that All Scripture Baptist Church called the restaurant chain hypocrites for not allowing the event.
“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 to CBS News. “But hey, it’s their business. They can have a double standard if they want to.”
Tom Spangler, the sheriff of Knox County, said in a statement to the Knox County Commission that he does not agree with or condone Fritts’ comments.
“I certainly DO NOT condone anyone calling for the execution of a group of people for any reason,” he wrote. “That is nothing more than vile and hate filled speech.”
Spangler wrote that Fritts, who also serves as a detective with the law enforcement organization, was stripped of his duties.
“I also want to REASSURE OUR CITIZENS that they have NOTHING to fear from our Officers,” he wrote.
Fritts has asked to take a county buyout offer, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported, and he remains on paid sick leave until it takes effect July 19.
Charme Allen, the Knox County District Attorney General, said in a statement to The Washington Post that a prosecutor will also be assigned to receive complaints about his past cases.
“I find this speech personally offensive and reprehensible,” Allen said to the Post. “As District Attorney, my constitutional obligation is to protect the integrity of the justice system.”
🚨NEW VIDEO: @knoxsheriff's Detective Grayson Fritts – also a pastor – calls for the government to arrest and EXECUTE LGBTQ People.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 12, 2019