CAPE CORAL, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida pastor has come under fire following a Twitter exchange with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, in which it appeared he supported a controversial law in Uganda that threatens the death penalty for those convicted of homosexuality.
The exchange began in May when Cruz took to Twitter to respond to a The New York Times article about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signing “one of the world’s most restrictive anti-gay measures.”
“This Uganda law is horrific & wrong,” Cruz wrote on Twitter. “Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse.”
A day after Cruz shared his opinion on the law, Pastor Tom Ascol of the Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral responded to the tweet, saying, “Tell it to God, Ted.” Then he cited Leviticus 20:13, an Old Testament bible quote that says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
“I think homosexuality should be prohibited in a society that is going to flourish,” Ascol said in an interview with NBC-2 News after the exchange.
When asked if he “supported the law that calls for the death penalty for homosexuals,” Ascol said, “I would say as an American living in a constitutional republic, I wouldn’t want to argue for the execution of homosexuals. I wouldn’t do that.”
“I think we were better off as a society when sexual immorality of every sort was illegal,” he added.
Ascol made his controversial response to Cruz on May 30. Since then, his tweet has been seen by over 3.8 million people and garnered some backlash. However, some Twitter users came to Ascol’s defense, saying people were “missing the point.”
One user, Steven Hasty, said the pastor was actually “challenging the standards of Cruz.”
“Where does Cruz derive his standards?” Hasty added.
“You are exactly right. Some people don’t read carefully. Others, evidently, don’t reason well. Thanks for clarifying & accurately expressing what I *actually* wrote. Keep pressing on,” Ascol replied.
Pastor Ascol’s comments come after Florida passed a series of controversial laws affecting the LGBTQ+ community, causing some Pride events to be canceled in the wake of the legislation.