Stedfast Baptist Church is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Its previous pastor, Donnie Romero, resigned Wednesday. He was disqualified from being a pastor because he had committed “grievous sins,” fellow pastor Steven Anderson of Phoenix said in a YouTube video.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“The major sin involved was being with prostitutes,” Anderson says in the video. “Also marijuana and gambling were discovered.”
Romero has not been charged. Before coming to Fort Worth, he attended Anderson’s Faith Word Baptist Church, a New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church in Phoenix. Anderson started the movement in 2005 and Shelley and Romero are among its leaders.
Romero was the subject of a protest in 2016 in Fort Worth after he posted a video of a sermon in which he called the shooting victims at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando “the scum of the earth.” Two years earlier, Romero said in a sermon posted online that gay people should be “put to death.” YouTube has since removed the video for violating its usage policy on hate speech.
Anderson, who also announced that Shelley would be taking over for Romero, said in a YouTube video that he met with about 40 men from Stedfast Church on Friday night and they unanimously elected Shelley as pastor.
Shelley preached against the LGBTQ community in an October 2018 sermon.
“They hate God. God has already given them up,” he says in the video. “That’s the reason they’re doing these vile, disgusting things. They’re beasts, they’re wicked, they’re abominable, they’re filthy today.”
Shelley did not respond to requests for comment.
New IFB Churches
Independent fundamental Baptist churches preach separation from non-believers and Christians who do not believe as they do. The churches have positioned themselves as the true way to Christ in contrast to less conservative churches.
A Star-Telegram investigation published Dec. 9-10 exposed a pattern of sexual abuse, cover-ups and the relocation of abusers in independent fundamental Baptist churches and schools across the country.
The New Independent Fundamental Baptist movement represents a “revival of what the old IFB once represented,” according to its website. Its Twitter page says the movement is “a new generation going back to the old paths.”
Anderson has been banned from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Jamaica for his rhetoric and his Phoenix church has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Anderson’s YouTube channel has 100,000 subscribers. In one sermon, Anderson suggested the world could be AIDS-free by Christmas if only people “executed the homos like God recommends.”
Anderson also came under fire after the shooting in Orlando when he said, “The good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not going to be harming children anymore.”