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Pastor Jonathan Shelley of Stedfast Baptist Church in Hurst, Texas — a guy who has celebrated the death of gay people multiple times — is now using comedian Dave Chappelle to justify his own bigotry.

Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, released last month, has come under fire for its lazy anti-trans “humor”. It’s not new for Chappelle. He’s mocked trans people in previous specials, declaring himself to be on “Team TERF” and saying trans people are akin to opportunists choosing to inhabit another body for personal gain. Even if Chappelle isn’t actually transphobic and sees his jokes as all in good fun, perpetuating those ideas (with the help of a gigantic check from Netflix and their distribution network) can lead to real-world harm. It’s a lot easier to pass anti-trans legislation when even liberals see trans people as nothing more than a punchline waiting to be delivered.

Shelley is obviously anti-trans. And during a sermon on Sunday, he argued that if even Chappelle recognizes trans people are to be mocked, then everyone else should follow suit. Trans people, he added, should

… Comedy has ceased to exist. Comedians are getting cancelled left and right.

How about Dave Chappelle? Who knows who Dave Chappelle is?… Almost everybody… Now, I’m not saying I like his comedy, necessarily. He’s pretty vulgar. He uses a lot of, you know, really explicit jokes and comedy and everything like that.

But I’ll be honest: I’ve heard some of his jokes against transgender and it was hilarious… I’m just being honest.

You know what? They’re trying to cancel him for those jokes. They don’t like him. They’re so mad. They had walkouts at Netflix or whatever…

But here’s the thing: He’s laughing at you because you’re stupid. He’s making jokes at you ’cause you’re a complete fool. And if you would hear the rebuke of humor, you would get it right. If everybody’s laughing at you, you got a problem!

This is a preacher who has said of gay people, “I hope they all die!” He argued against anti-discrimination laws, saying they only exist because “you’re gross and disgusting and no one likes you.” He says the government ought to execute LGBTQ people.

And he thinks Chappelle is on the right track when punching down at trans people because they need to know they’re wrong.

Not that Chappelle is listening, but if his comedy helps empower the worst people while alienating an already persecuted community, he’s aiming in all the wrong directions. It’s sad that someone so brilliant at highlighting racism is so creatively limited when it comes to trans issues. Not only does he refuse to acknowledge his failures on that front, he puts his ignorance front and center in the latest special, spending over 30 minutes of his hour-long routine perpetuating those stigmas.

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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.