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If you want to be a member of the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, you must believe Jesus died for your sins, that gay people have no business getting married, and that transgender people don’t exist. And, honestly, that first one may be optional based on their new contract.

Senior Pastor Heath Lambert says the church will now force the whole congregation to sign a document confirming their opposition to LGBTQ rights if they want to remain members. They have until mid-March to turn in their hate-group application.

The relevant part of the document reads:

The relevant portion of the First Baptist Church Jacksonville contract

As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.

To be fair, just about all Southern Baptist, Catholic, and evangelical churches believe all of those things as a matter of faith. But almost none of them would kick you out of the congregation if you had doubts about those beliefs or (gasp) happened to be LGBTQ.

At First Baptist Church, however, rejecting LGBTQ rights is now a mandatory belief all members must hold, and they have until March 19 to turn in their paperwork acknowledging that.

Lambert doubled down on this in an interview with a local news station, comparing people who support LGBTQ people to toddlers near an unguarded pool:

If you put a swimming pool in your backyard and you say to the toddlers, have at it, and you don’t ever put a fence up … If you only talk about the good things and you don’t talk about the dangers, people are gonna die,” Lambert explained to Action News Jax. “The reality is, our city is dying or drowning in sexual sin.”

He’s confusing sexual sin with the flooding he’s experiencing due to the climate change he also denies.

He’s also completely wrong. In the decades since marriage equality became legal, the sky hasn’t fallen. Opposite-sex marriages haven’t changed. No one’s died. The fears conservative Christians pretended to have before the Obergefell ruling never came to pass. The bigotry held by people like Lambert have helped steer young people away from organized religion at an astonishing pace.

While it’s hardly news to see a conservative church go all in on hate, what’s unusual is Lambert’s complete obsession with gay people. He’s spent several months talking about this First Baptist Church contract, even making a video about it months ago after the church’s leaders approved the statement:

YouTube video

He apparently filmed that video at a location owned by progressive people because, after they publicly expressed how they felt about his bigoted views, Lambert lashed out against the “hateful hypocrisy.”

He should get used to that kind of reaction, though. Lambert has decided his church should be known purely for its opposition to civil rights, basic human decency, and acceptance of people his members know virtually nothing about. (The First Baptist Church contract includes the phrase “individual choice,” suggesting that some people are simply deciding their gender on a whim, which is not at all accurate.)

Some pastors tell their congregations to follow Jesus.

Heath Lambert wants them to ground their faith in anti-LGBTQ hate.

They’re putting their bigotry front and center for the entire world to see. Forget Jesus. Forget helping the poor. Sunday services just involve burning rainbow flags and making sure marginalized people continue to suffer at the hands of Christians.

That’s hardly an exaggeration:

First Baptist Church has a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights, including strenuous opposition of the city’s Human Rights Ordinance. The HRO, which prohibited people from being fired or evicted simply because of their sexual identity, did eventually pass after several years. But after an early failed vote in August 2012, councilmembers who voted against it were honored at a First Baptist Church church service.

The church also sent shuttlebuses full of church members to speak against the HRO at meetings.

It’s just an entire church full of horrible human beings whose main joy in life comes from making other people suffer.

I’ll give them credit for this, though: At least they’re not hiding their hate. Some churches hold the same beliefs about LGBTQ people but refuse to admit it to the public. They pretend to welcome everyone in the hopes that once LGBTQ people accept Jesus, they’ll either remain gay and celibate, or just magically turn straight on their own, or decide that whatever gender was on their birth certificate must be the right one.

Not First Baptist Church Jacksonville. It’s where prejudice has a home. It’s a reminder that there’s no hate quite like Christian “love.”

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.