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Nearly 30 anti-LGBT North Carolina religious leaders, activists and pastors have endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

The leaders’ support comes in a full list of 200 endorsements by so-called faith leaders released by the Cruz campaign this week.

Right Wing Watch first picked up on the list, highlighting the endorsements of Concord-based Flip Benham and Winston-Salem’s Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church.

Benham is well-known to local LGBT community members in the Charlotte area and across the state. He’s regularly protested at LGBT Pride events and other activities. In attempting to shut down a Pride event in Charlotte, Benham once said that “God will push the radical homosexual agenda all the way into the grave and leave no marker for it.” Last year, he protested and interrupted several LGBT couples’ weddings at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds. Earlier this year, Benham, once convicted for stalking an abortion doctor, harassed at least two transgender women, including one teenager, as they attempted to use restrooms at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center during debate on measures that would add LGBT protections to the city’s non-discrimination ordinances. This year, Benham traveled to Kentucky to defend anti-gay marriage clerk Kim Davis. While there, he camped out in front of the home of the judge overseeing Davis’ case.

Baity also has a long history of anti-LGBT activities. Locally, he’s stood opposed to LGBT-inclusion efforts in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System. In 2012, Baity received a “Watchman Award” from the Family Research Council, despite being cast aside for his radical views by several other rightwing organizations. The Family Research Council is a Washington, D.C.-based anti-LGBT hate group with deep ties in North Carolina. (First Baptist Church Charlotte’s pastor Mark Harris has worked closely with FRC’s Tony Perkins and Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, was once a lobbyist for FRC’s state-level affiliate, the North Carolina Family Policy Council.)

Other high-profile leaders have also endorsed Cruz, including Concord-based Michael Brown, founder of a school of ministry and church and leader of a local anti-LGBT organization. Along with Benham, Brown has routinely opposed LGBT equality efforts, including this year’s proposed LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in Charlotte. Brown, who has a routine habit of using highly militaristic and violent religious rhetoric when discussing LGBT people, has also defended attempts in Uganda to pass extreme anti-LGBT legislation. Brown has several times led hundreds of his followers into protest events at local Pride activities.

Other outspoken leaders include:

  • Steve Noble, host of the radio show Called2Action, who appeared on Peter LaBarbara’s radio show during the anti-LGBT marriage amendment campaign and said that LGBT people are “enslaved by their sin” in “the playground of Satan.”
  • Dr. Rit Varraile, pastor of Shelby’s Elizabeth Baptist Church, who once caused controversy over a local Pride picnic. At the time, Varraile said it was inappropriate for the local newspaper to publish a story about the picnic in its Sunday edition. Varraile said the newspaper’s decision was “insensitive to the sentiments of a majority of the people in our county,” adding, “You’ve got roughly 80 percent of the people that their definition of marriage is going to be consistent with what has been considered the traditional or biblical view of marriage. To start their Sunday morning off with, bam, right there, front page over the fold. … I just felt it was an insensitive way to do it.”

A full list of the North Carolina leaders endorsing Cruz is below:

Dr. Ronnie Baity, Berean Baptist Church, Return America, North Carolina
Reverend Flip Benham, Operation Save America ministry, North Carolina
Dr. Michael Brown, Founder and President of FIRE School of Ministry, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, North Carolina
Dr. Kevin Broyhill, Calvary Baptist Church, North Carolina
Bishop Kelly R Dodson, East Shelby Church of God, North Carolina
Reverend Allen Doug, Penley’s Chapel, North Carolina
Reverend Chad Ellege, Leicester Baptist Church, North Carolina
Pastor Rick Finley, Fellowship Baptist Chruch, North Carolina
Dr. William Forstchen, Professor, Montreat College, North Carolina
Pastor Edward Gray, First Wesleyan Church, North Carolina
Dr. and Pastor Eric Grindstaff, Chapel Hill Baptist Church, North Carolina
Dean Hunter, Central Baptist Church, Minister of Youth and Education, North Carolina
Reverend Murray Kartanson, Executive Pastor, Agape Faith Church, North Carolina
Xavier Kelley, Shining Light Baptist Church, North Carolina
Eugene Lane, Offering Ministry, North Carolina
Jeff Lominac, Director, North Carolina Christian Coalition , North Carolina
Pastor Jon McConkey, Maranatha Baptist Church, North Carolina
Reverend Darin Moser, Sweet Life Fellowship, North Carolina
Steve Noble, Host, Called2Action Radio, North Carolina
Dr. J.N. “Hub” Powell, Professor, Montreat College, North Carolina
Dr. Timothy D. Rabon, Beacon Baptist Church , North Carolina
Reverend J. Wendell Runsion, North Carolina
Pastor Shannon Scott, North Carolina
Dwane Thomas, New Manna Baptist Church, North Carolina
Dr. Rit Varraile, Elizabeth Baptist Church, North Carolina
Joseph Wenzel, General Officer, Burkemont Baptist Church, North Carolina
Pastor Roger Woodard, Family Worship Center, North Carolina

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