Leroy Elmore Park is an unexpected place for a tense showdown over gay rights and speech freedoms. The public park is in Lubbock, Texas, in an area that City Secretary Becky Garza describes as “largely residential.” The park features a lovely lake, tennis courts, and all this week, a blue-and-yellow tent hosting the Door Christian Fellowship Church tent revival. The tent’s robust sound system is broadcasting the sermons throughout the park, and this week, a video was posted online.
“A fag is still a fag, and a dyke is still a dyke!” a man shouts in the clip. “If it walks like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, it’s a cotton-picking duck!”
He continues, “I still believe that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. I don’t care who told you it’s OK, God says it’s an abomination.”
After the video went live, Leroy Elmore Park also became hosts to protesters who say they’re furious that the church has been allowed to broadcast hate speech.
“They have a sound system—I just don’t believe hate should be spread this way,” protester Lindsey Vrias told KCBD. “Like, especially through religious reasons.”
Door Christian Fellowship Church Pastor Anthony Saavedra was unapologetic. “We preach on sin in general in the eyes of God,” Saavedra said. “Sin is sin. Homosexuality is the part that is being mentioned, which the Bible does say is an abomination…and we do believe it is a sin,” he told KCBD.
He also mentioned that his church has received all the necessary permits to meet in the park. When The Daily Beast reached out to Garza, Lubbock’s city secretary, she confirmed that “They met all the criteria for a noise permit.”
She added, “If you restrict one group, you have to restrict other groups. It’s a freedom-of-speech issue.”
The showdown between protesters and church members could continue tonight—the Door Christian Fellowship Church will be holding their service at 7 p.m.