Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) attended services over the weekend at a Baptist church led by a pastor who believes homosexuality is a sin and is "enough to send you to hell."
Booker and Harris, who consider themselves staunch supporters of the LGBTQ rights, spoke at separate services over the weekend, according to Mercury News. Harris spoke at Las Vegas’ Victory Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday morning while Booker spoke on Saturday night. While it isn't clear whether they knew of the the Rev. Robert E. Fowler Sr.’s public position on homosexuality, Fowler said his views on homosexuality was never discussed when he met with the two Democratic presidential candidates.
"I don’t believe in being a one-item voter that everyone has to agree with me on this particular item," Fowler said. "I support those who present the best platform for the United States of America, even if I disagree with them on some things and they disagree with me on some things."
During a 2013 radio interview, Fowler listed off several sins and said they were all wrapped up together with homosexuality. He said, "whether you commit adultery, whether you commit fornication, whether you’re a child molester, you gossip, you lie, you cheat on your taxes, you don’t pay your tithes, things of that nature — all of that is wrapped together as sin, along with homosexuality. And so at our church, we don’t believe that there’s any one sin that’s greater than anything else."
He was asked on Sunday night whether he still held these views, prompting him to say, "Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, those are all sexual sins addressed in scripture." He was also asked homosexuality and child molestation are comparable sins. He responded, "Any sin, if you break the law in one area, you’ve broken it in all areas. If you mess up in one area, that’s enough to send you to hell — so any sin is pretty bad for me."
Harris's speech occurred shortly after news broke that there was a second mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, declaring, "Hate without response will lead to destruction."
"Whenever that hate reveals itself, it is incumbent on us to speak up and speak out, and it is incumbent upon us to agree that whomever is the subject of the hate should never be made to fight alone," Harris said, prompting amens from the chorus.
A Harris spokeswoman told Mercury News that "Senator Harris’ support and advocacy for LGBTQ equality has been unwavering throughout her career. She will continue to visit houses of worship across the country to address congregants about the pressing issues we face as a nation."
Booker and Harris aren't the only Democratic presidential candidates who have met with Fowler. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who caucuses with Senate Democrats and is running as a Democrat for president, held a campaign town hall at Fowler's church last month and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attempted to woo voters at the church back in 2016.
Sanders, Booker, and Harris have all been longtime supporters of gay rights, according to Mercury.
All three senators have been longtime champions of gay rights, with Harris officiating same-sex weddings in San Francisco in 2004 and Booker doing the same for the first legal unions in New Jersey. Sanders was one of the few members of the House of Representatives to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocked the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, in the ’90s.