A local church that prides itself on strict adherence to biblical teachings is organizing protests of several Nashville seafood restaurants.
"We'll be out there picketing and standing up for the word of God," says Brother Lance Covington, leader of the Lord's Own Place, a church in Antioch.
Covington says a Sunday school class at his church was studying the book of Leviticus in March in the wake of the gay marriage controversy.
"We were reading the part in Chapter 18 where it says that for a man to lie with a man as with a woman is an abomination to God," he says. "We all agreed with thatin fact, we had led a protest outside the state legislature in support of a ban on gay marriage.
"But somebody pointed out some of the other stuff that Leviticus says is an abomination to God, including eating shrimp and oysters."
The verses in question are Leviticus Chapter 11, verses 9 and 10, which explicitly condemn the consumption of anything that lives in water but doesn't have fins and scales.
"That clearly means that God hates shrimp as much as he hates homosexuality," Covington says. "And we believe in all of the word of God, so we felt like if we were willing to stage an anti-gay picket, we needed to stage an anti-shrimp picket too."
Covington says about 50 members of his 500-member congregation will in the coming week target several Captain D's, Long John Silver's and Red Lobster restaurants.
"Shrimp-eaters are condemned in exactly the same language as homosexuals," Covington says. "God said it, I believe it and I've had my last shrimp basket."
A senior vice president of Nashville-based Captain D's says he respects the religious beliefs of others but disagrees with members of the Lord's Own Place on the shrimp issue.
"Pulling a few verses out of their historical context and acting as though that's the word of God can lead people to unusual conclusions," the seafood executive says. "We think that, these days, God would recognize our shrimp and oyster dinners as tasty treats, not abominations."
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