Robert Foster, a former Mississippi lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate whose Christian faith has always been a large part of his identity, says that anyone who supports transgender rights should be executed via firing squad.
The Republican—though, admit it, you already knew that before I said it—made the remark on Twitter Thursday night:
Some of y’all still want to try and find political compromise with those that want to groom our school aged children and pretend men are women, etc.
I think they need to be lined up against wall before a firing squad to be sent to an early judgment.
When reached for comment by Ashton Pittman of the Mississippi Free Press, Foster doubled down on his faith-based murder fantasies.
“I said what I said,” he wrote, adding to what he had tweeted. “The law should be changed so that anyone trying to sexually groom children and/or advocating to put men pretending to be women in locker rooms and bathrooms with young women should receive the death penalty by firing squad.”
To be clear, supporters of trans people aren’t in favor of grooming children or allowing men in women’s locker rooms and bathrooms. It’s a typical right-wing tactic to equate trans people (and gay people) with pedophiles while turning a blind eye to actual corruption within their ranks. It’s yet another lie conservative Christians tell themselves because they believe tolerance and acceptance are four-letter words. They would rather deny the existence of trans people than come to terms with their own ignorance about who trans people are.
Maybe this kind of rhetoric could simply be ignored if Foster was a random online troll, but he’s not. He served two terms in the Mississippi State House (from 2017 to 2020) and ran for governor in 2019. Even though he placed third in the Republican primary that year, he was able to snag up over 67,000 votes. He may well run again for higher office in the future.
There’s no way to talk about Foster without bringing up his faith. His old campaign page boasted about how he attended Hernando Baptist Church and he’s frequently pushed for a Christian nationalist agenda:
All of that is in addition to pushing lies about COVID and claiming the 2020 election was rigged. He’s the sort of Republican who thinks the Republican governor of Mississippi isn’t Republican enough. Just compete lunacy all around.
And that’s before we get into his desire to have his political enemies murdered.
How despicable is Foster? Even a former executive director of the state’s Republican Party—during the Trump era, no less—called out Foster’s bigotry for what it was:
Even as some conservatives distanced themselves from the Foster’s rhetoric, they didn’t do much of anything to dismiss the basis of his tweet. That’s because they largely agree with trashing trans people as a political strategy. It’s hard to denounce hate speech against trans people (and allies) when others in the party are spreading their own lies about what it means to be trans.
The Republican Party raises politicians like Foster without doing nearly enough to eradicate his style of politics from their party or his brand of voters from their base. They would rather keep bigots in their fold than forcefully reject his Christian bigotry. His church and the people who share his Baptist faith are often no different. They may not call for the execution of supporters of trans rights, but they’re more than happy to join Foster in demonizing and dehumanizing people who are transgender because their hearts are just as cold. Their minds are just as thoughtless.
Last night, on Twitter, I posted a clip of a New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher who said something very similar to Robert Foster. He said that a righteous government, if it existed, would execute people who engaged in sodomy. He also compared those people to pedophiles.
Whenever I post clips like that, there are inevitably people who say guys like that are on the fringes of Christianity. While it’s true that New IFB preachers aren’t preaching to large crowds, just notice that his sermon pushes the same hateful message as a recent Republican lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate. They don’t directly call for violence, but they have no problem normalizing the idea of violence as a consequence for anyone who supports LGBTQ rights.
The Republican Party is full of Christian extremists like Robert Foster and not a single person in a position of power within the party will do a damn thing to push those people and their followers out of the fold. They’re too reliant on them to win elections. Which means the problem will only get worse.