It probably feels good to anger a fundamentalist preacher who utters anti-homosexual diatribes peppered with phrases like "dirty faggots." For an athlete it probably feels even better because, in a roundabout way, upsetting the world's bigots validates your celebrity beyond the playing field. After all, in order to reach the cloistered places where hate-mongers assure each other that their fucked-up version of reality is the only one that's real, what you say and do has to echo through a lot of other places first.
During a service at the Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, last Wednesday, pastor and distinguished homophobe Donnie Romero took time out of his sermon to attack UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. Romero was miffed at McGregor's tongue-in-cheek comments about beating up Jesus Christ if he was an MMA fighter, then later implying that he was a deity himself. For a humorless man who also runs his own church specializing in hardline evangelical nonsense, McGregor's jokes were too confusing to process, so Romero went before his congregation and asked God to play enforcer.
"That guy, I'm going to pray that God strikes him down with a lightning bolt, so that everybody in the world that believes the Bible even a little bit will know that it was God, it was Jesus that struck him down," the 33-year-old preacher said of McGregor.
Elsewhere in his two-minute rant, after contextualizing beef with McGregor, he said: "The guy's a UFC fighter. The guy's nothing! He's let money go to his head, he's got pride, and look, let me tell you this: the bigger they are, the harder they fall my friends. You think about that chick, the UFC fighter that everybody loved three or four months ago. Everybody was all, 'Ronda Ronda Ronda.' When she lost, everybody that was on her side turned against her. Because that's how the world works, that's how worldly friends are. When things are going good they're behind you. When things go bad they're against you."
These are shallow observations that have almost nothing to do with the blasphemy that pissed off Romero in the first place, delivered in a voice plucked from the larynx of a tantrum-throwing 7th grader in the throes of puberty. He caps the tirade off with unintended irony: "If you watch him and you're a fan of his and you call yourself a Christian," he says of McGregor, "shame on you!"
The same could be said about Romero himself, who didn’t respond to a request for comment and who is an unabashed bigot. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the Stedfast Baptist Church to its list of active anti-LGBT hate groups, a distinction that's well deserved for another-headline grabbing sermon that Romero delivered in which he boasted about harassing homosexuals and openly advocated for their deaths using specious reasoning drawn from the King James Bible. "I'm not going to let any of these dirty faggots inside my church," he said. "They are all pedophiles. Look in the Bible. Every time it shows the sodomites, in Genesis 19 and Judges 19, they're always trying to rape and hurt other people. They're relentless. They are relentless. They are predators and given an opportunity to snatch one of your children, they would do it in a heartbeat."
In a separate sermon last Sunday, he laid into McGregor once again, calling him "a wicked and evil person, a hater of God," and giving an itemized list of crippling injuries that he "wouldn’t be sad" if McGregor incurred if lightning bolts weren’t available. Then he played the victim, making veiled threats of violence and claiming his church was under "spiritual attack" in the wake of the McGregor video.
So now we must leave Donnie Romero forever. He's a stupid, attention-hungry man who is best left to wither in America's backwoods. Transcribing what he says makes me wish a bolt of lightning would kill me.
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