Tom Ascol Source: Wikimedia Commons:

Ron DeSantis-Linked Pastor Preaches Death for LGBTQ+ People

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

It might come as no surprise that the same Florida governor who's made his state so toxic that LGBTQ+ people are abandoning it has ties to a man of the cloth whose pastoral message is "kill the gays."

LGBTQ Nation reported that Tom Ascol, the "senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida," is the preacher who "delivered the invocation" when DeSantis was inaugurated for his second term as Florida's governor. Ascol showed his anti-gay leanings after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, responding to Uganda's new law that imposes the death penalty for some types of same-sex intimacy, posted to Twitter that the Ugandan "Kill the Gays" law was "horrific & wrong."

"Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" is grotesque & an abomination," Cruz added.

But Ascol begged to differ, upbraiding Cruz for the senator's show of concern for human rights and human life.

"Tell it to God, Ted," Ascol responded, before falling back to a different use of the word "abomination" – the one that appears in mistranslated versions of the Book of Leviticus, the go-to section of the Old Testament that was written centuries before Jesus, Christians believe, brought a new message (and an "11th commandment" of love) to the world.

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman," the passage in Leviticus reads, "both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

Ascol cited the passage, LGBTQ Nation reported, and then demanded of Cruz: "Was this law God gave to His old covenant people 'horrific and wrong'?"

"Leviticus' ancient Biblical laws also require the death penalty for anyone who practices fortune telling, curses their mother or father, accidentally kills someone else's animal, or commits blasphemy," LGBTQ Nation noted. "Other Old Testament laws demand death for anyone who charges interest on loans or works on Saturdays."

Ascol followed up his initial tweet with another in which he questioned the Christian credentials of those who did not share his views. "Amazing how many professing Christians, even self-designated 'conservative' ones, are embarrassed by God's Word," he posted, before going on to add: "Many so-called Christians react the same way that unashamed unbelievers do. It's a commentary."

Modern biblical scholars have pointed out that the passage is likely misconstrued and had a different meaning at the time (and in the language) it was originally written. One argument advances the idea that Leviticus 18:22 does not address consensual sexual relations between men, but rather condemns male rape. Another points out that the word translated as "abomination," toevah, actually meant "taboo" – as in, forbidden to ancient Israelites, but not to others.

It's also possible that Christians who disagree with murdering people over dictates found in the Old Testament do so because they have read the New Testament – and the words of Christ. Religious tradition has it that Jesus both fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and superseded its dictates with a new commandment: "Love one another."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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