“Son, what is the punishment for a faggot? A faggot that lives in sin gets put to death.”
But this story is much bigger than that. It’s about a network of radicalizing Christian churches preaching “death to faggots,” a network that is much larger than you probably think and much more extreme than you probably imagine.
Did you hear about Stedfast Baptist Pastor Dillon Awes in Watauga, Texas who made headlines last month preaching that gay people should be lined up against a wall and shot?
My column today is about Stedfast and the New Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (New IFB) movement it belongs to, but the story begins with 27-year-old Tyler Dinsmoor, a member of an IFB church 2,000 miles away from Texas.
Let’s dive in.
On June 17, just before LGBTQ townspeople in rural Anacortes, Washington were putting the finishing touches on prep for their first-ever Pride parade, 7 law enforcement agencies and one helicopter swooped into the nearby village of Oak Harbor to arrest Tyler Dinsmoor, the man in the photo above.
Dinsmoor came to the attention of local, state, and federal agencies after posting multiple statements to different Gab social media accounts about wishing he could kill LGBTQ people. Those statements led the agencies to conclude Dinsmoor might be planning a mass shooting at Anacortes Pride.
Law enforcement worries were not idle, and that helicopter was not overkill.
Dinsmoor had made specific threats, and the police knew he was heavily armed, possessing several (reports are conflicting, but some say 13) high-powered military-style assault rifles.
One Dinsmoor post included a photo of an Anacosta Pride flyer with the comment, “Talk me out of it.” He wrote in another post that he had come “9mm away from fedposting two faggots at home Depot.” He asked his Gab followers to pray for him, saying he doubted he could “make it through this fag month.” The implication, reflected in replies from his followers, was that he would not be able to get through Pride month without killing LGBTQ people.
He posted that “all homosexuals are child-rapists in wait, and all (every single one) should be put to death immediately.”
He also posted an apparently photoshopped picture of a man pointing a gun at people marching in a Pride parade.
Prior to the June 17 raid, local police received a complaint that Dinsmoor shouted, “It used to be legal to kill gay people!” at a lesbian neighbor, who says she worried because she frequently saw him carrying a pistol near her property. Another neighbor complained Dinsmoor pointed a gun at his young Black nephew.
After the raid, police took Dinsmoor to jail and charged him with a hate crime over the incident with the lesbian neighbor. He sat in a cell while the Anacortes parade unrolled without incident. On June 24, a judge ordered him released on a $150,000.00 bond, reduced from an initial one million dollars. The judge ordered Dinsmoor’s firearms confiscated and ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation. He is at home now, awaiting trial.
Before Dinsmoor was arrested, he made a shocking video with his three-year-old son
I’ve transcribed most of it for you, but written words cannot do it justice. Please, if you can, stop reading now and click the above link to watch Tyler Dinsmoor teach his child that God hates gay people and wants gay people put to death.
Dinsmoor uploaded the video publicly on Gab, but out of respect for his son’s privacy, I downloaded it and had the boy’s face obscured. I did not edit anything else.
This is Dinsmoor raw and uncut.
“Hello!” he starts out, facing the camera with a big grin on his face. His smiling 3-year-old echoes his greeting as he continues, “My name is Tyler Dinsmoor, and I wanna say, you know, happy Pride month.”
He sounds like a kindly Sunday School teacher as he starts a Bible lesson:
God is a loving God. God IS love. And with his love, part of that is you have to hate evil. And you see, God in the Book of Leviticus 20:13 says, For if a man lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both have committed abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
See, God understands that homosexuals, sodomites, faggots are all predators. They’re always predators.
Dinsmoor then mis-tells the Old Testament story of Sodom, claiming the people of Sodom were grooming children: “You see, fags reproduce by touching kids. That’s what they do.”
He adds, “God is a very loving God and he understands that societies cannot coexist with sodomites,” explaining that God ‘nuked’ Sodom because it was filled with ‘faggots,’ saying he believes God did the same thing to the city of Pompeii, apparently referring to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.
He says, “Homosexuals, all faggots, because they are harmful, because God hates them because they hate God, remember? God says they’re worthy of death.” Then he quotes more of the Bible and says “fag enablers are also worthy of death.”
“Well, I hope you enjoyed that lesson today,” he chirps , sounding like Fred Rogers or a kindergarten teacher. He bounces his little boy on his knee and asks, “Son, what is the punishment for a faggot?”
The child’s words are hard to make out, but he says something very close to “punishment for a faggot that lives in sin gets put to death.” The “gets put to death part” is crystal clear.
“That is right!” smiles Dinsmore as he waves cheerfully and says, “Okay, bye!” which his son echoes with a big smile on his face.
I wish I hadn’t needed to blur the boy’s face for privacy, because his expressions add exponentially to the video’s creepy, tragic nature. It’s not the three-year-old’s fault, of course, but he’s clearly soaking up the lesson and enjoying spending time with his dad, even as he’s being taught to value hatred and violence.
Dinsmoor is not an isolated crazy person
At this point you might be asking yourself why I wrote this column. Wouldn’t everyone be better off if this matter were kept to mental health and law enforcement circles? When I first learned about the video, that’s what I thought too.
Then I realized I’d written about Dinsmoor already, though not directly, in a column last February. He’s associated with the Sure Foundation Baptist Church of Spokane, and reportedly goes “soul winning” with them, meaning knocking on doors to share faith and invite people to church.
Christian hate-preacher Aaron Thompson insists he’s not calling for the execution of gay people.
He just wants gay people to be executed. pic.twitter.com/gj9ZBjgsJK
— Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) May 24, 2022
David Gamble on Medium first tipped me to the connection with his article, “Baptist Church deeply upset about being accurately quoted.” That led me to Hemant Mehta’s tweet about Sure Foundation preacher Aaron Thompson calling for the execution of gay people, which reminded me I had previously linked to Mehta’s tweets about Sure Foundation preacher Daniel Kutsar calling for all gay people to commit suicide.
Thompson and Kutsar join Awes in Texas claiming God wants gay people executed, but without advocating for any specific person to act as God’s executioner. Sometimes they say “the government” should execute gay people.
But as we can see with Dinsmoor, who parrots Sure Foundation sermons and teachings, that message is radicalizing. When you call for lining LGBTQ people up and and shooting them in the back of the head, some people will listen, and some might even plan to take action.
I don’t know if Dinsmoor would have eventually killed anyone. Nobody can know that. But police were so worried that they took strong action to stop him.
Here’s what I worry about: Quiet people. People without Gab accounts. People listening to messages from radicalizing hate preachers like Thompson, Kutsar, and Awes — then acting on them before anyone knows what’s going on.
Am I worrying for good reason? I think so. Here’s why.
As I wrote in February, the Sure Foundation Baptist Church network is large, spread out across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
Calling for the death of LGBTQ people isn’t all they preach, but it’s a central part of who they are. Their message is radicalizing. Leaders and members routinely refer to gay people as faggots as they preach a violent version of Christianity featuring God’s wrath and literalist interpretations of the Old King James version of the Bible.
Sure Foundation churches are loosely associated, part of the larger New Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (New IFB) affiliation that Stedfast Baptist churches belong to. Steven L Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona started the New IFB in 2005. He received media attention in 2009 when he preached that he was praying for the death of President Barack Obama.
In 2019, Ruth Graham called the New IFB the “New Hate Pastors” in a Slate article about Stedfast Pastor Adam Fannin preaching that he hopes Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman will die a violent death because she’s a “Whore of Zionism.”
This is Adam Fannin of the Stedfast Baptist Church in Florida and he is going to get me killed. pic.twitter.com/I6Us59o59v
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 8, 2019
Graham noted that the affiliation has 6,000 congregations, though I’m not sure how accurate that is or how radical congregations are outside the Stedfast and Sure Foundation sub-networks.
I know that also in 2019, The Southern Poverty Law Center observed, “The leaders of these congregations regularly depict people who are LGBTQ as dangers to society, and this summer half a dozen pastors from the New IFB network held a conference where they encouraged the execution of LGBTQ people. More than 30 countries have banned Anderson because of his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.”
What’s the answer to this radicalizing religious hatred?
Do we have to wait for the next Tyler Dinsmoor to come along and actually shoot up a Pride event? Or can we acknowledge that calling for LGBTQ people to be lined up against a wall and shot cannot be justified with religious freedom claims?
Whether the number of violently radicalizing congregations is 6,000, 600, or more like 60 (which I suspect is closer to accurate), action must be taken. Scroll up and watch that video if you haven’t yet. Please understand that Dinsmoor sounds EXACTLY like many New IFB pastors in their pulpits every Sunday — as they preach to families and small children with words nearly identical to his.
Dinsmoor didn’t make the words up in his own head. He learned them in a church that belongs to a growing network of churches. This is a recipe for disaster. People are going to end up dead.
As a society, we should be able to distinguish between legitimate churches and hate groups that radicalize people and advocate violence against members of minorities.
The New IFB are not churches. They’re a radicalizing hate group like the KKK. We need to treat them as such.
James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]
The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.