The Natomas office park that houses Verity Baptist Church, whose pastor praised the recent massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., has asked the church to move out.
“We communicated our views to Verity Baptist Church, and while their lease does not expire until March 31, 2017, we have asked them to consider moving out of our business park, and we would immediately cancel their lease without any penalty to them,” read a statement issued by Harsch Investment Properties.
Nearly a thousand people from across California flooded the Northgate Business Park owned by Harsch on Sunday, wielding rainbow flags and megaphones to protest the sermon delivered by Rev. Roger Jimenez the day of the mass shooting, the worst in modern U.S. history. Forty-nine people were killed.
In his sermon, Jimenez told his congregants that he wished the shooter had killed more people in the gay nightclub. He said God had put a death sentence on gay people.
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“There’s no tragedy,” Jimenez said. “I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out.”
The sermon, which a congregant posted on YouTube, grabbed national headlines and has been condemned by Sacramento area faith leaders.
The statement from landlord Harsch Investment said the company respects the right of free speech, even when it disagrees with the views.
“This is certainly the case with our tenant Verity Baptist Church and its Pastor Roger Jimenez,” the company’s statement said. “We have many places of worship and other religious organizations in the properties we manage. Like all our tenants, their occupancy rights are protected in their leases, but we will not tolerate tenants who advocate hatred and the taking of innocent lives.”
The company also noted that it respects the right of people offended by Jimenez to protest. However, the company asked that any protest be peaceful and respect the rights of other tenants in the business park.
“Please do not take this as any less of a commitment on the part of our company to continue to work with Verity Baptist Church to move out of our park,” the company said in its statement. “For decades, the owners and staff at Harsch Investment Properties have supported the LGBTQ community and many other organizations whose missions are to further respect, dignity and the ability for all individuals to live their lives as they wish.”
Jimenez could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The church’s voice mailbox was full.