The pastor of West Virginia's Shenandoah Bible Baptist Church is under fire for a 1995 sermon he gave that called for the burning and killing of gay people.
Audio of the sermon leaked online this weekend, and it features Owens in a Hitler-like tirade: "In America, we need to stop burning flags and start burning fags ... We need hunt-a-homo week,... That would put them back in the closet,... We need to take them all out and shoot 'em with a scatter shotgun." His congregation can be heard cheering in the background.
Owens responded to the video in a statement: "Nearly 15 years ago I preached a sermon that promoted physically hurting
gay people. I was young, stupid and immature. I didn’t even hold to the
belief of hurting people when I wrongly made those comments. I regret
those words and have asked God to forgive me for them. I am not a
believer in the gay life-style but I was profoundly wrong in making any
comments about hurting people. If I could retract those words I
The Stranger's Dan Savage dug up more information on Owens, including the news that his son pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault in 2008. Jeremiah Owens was convicted of having sexual relations with two girls, age 13 and 15 — he met the 13-year-old at his father's church.
Read more about Owens here and hear the sermon below.