KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Cracker Barrel said in a statement posted to social media on Tuesday it will not permit a gathering planned at its Cleveland, Tennessee, restaurant hosted by a Knox County deputy and pastor who has come under fire for his anti-LGBTQ statements and sermons.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Mary Mancini wrote an open letter to the CEO of Cracker Barrel, which was also posted to Twitter, informing them that Grayson Fritts and All Scripture Baptist Church were planning a gathering on June 29 at its Cleveland location called “Small Town Soul Winning,” which is also listed on the church’s website. In the letter, Mancini notes that the event goes against the statement of inclusion and diversity posted to the restaurant’s website.
The restaurant responded saying they have advised Fritts and the church that their event will not be allowed at Cracker Barrel and neither he nor his group will be permitted on site.
“At Cracker Barrel, we work hard to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive – we have a zero tolerance policy for discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort. We take price in serving as a home away from home for all guests and in showing our communities and our country that the hospitality we practice is open to everyone,” read the statement. “We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same.”
Fritts told Chattanooga ABC affiliate WTVC that while he respects Cracker Barrel’s decision as a business, he called them “hypocrites” who are giving into social pressures.
Fritts has come under public scrutiny recently for two sermons posted to YouTube in which he calls the LGBTQ community “animals” and “freaks,” and calls for government and police to enforce the death penalty against them. Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler denounced his statements at a county commission meeting earlier this week. Both the Knox County and Knoxville mayors have also come out against Fritts and his point of view.
Spangler says Fritts has taken a voluntary buyout and is currently on paid sick leave while he awaits the buyout to take effect.