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A GOP lawmaker called the US ‘unrighteous’ because of LGBTQ people and non-Christians

Rep. Lupe Diaz, R-Benson, gives an opening sermon on April 1, 2024. Screenshot via ACTV/azleg.gov

A state legislator on Monday used his time delivering a sermon that said a holiday to celebrate trans people was “dark,” proof of America being “unrighteous,” and then denounced non-Christians.

The sermon was given as the House of Representatives opened its daily floor session, during which lawmakers convene to vote on bills passed through committees. Every day, the House and Senate open their floor sessions with a prayer that is meant to be non-denominational, but Republicans who control both chambers have long only used Christians to speak.

But Rep. Lupe Diaz (R-Benson), who is also a minister, went a step further in his opening prayer Monday, and spent nearly five minutes on a fire-and-brimstone-styled sermon against non-Christians: “Eternal life is not available just to everybody, it is available just to those that acknowledge Jesus Christ,” Diaz said on the House floor.

The evangelical speech was given as a reaction to International Transgender Day of Visibility, which happened to be at the same time as Easter Sunday this year. (Easter changes yearly, whereas the Day of Visibility has been recognized on March 31 every year since 2009.)

Diaz incorrectly said that Pres. Joe Biden proclaimed the holiday on the same day as Easter this year, and went on to say that it was “proof” of “light” versus “dark,” and then followed up with saying the U.S. was an “unrighteous nation.”

LOOKOUT reached out to Diaz on Tuesday via email and through his secretary asking if he knew how Easter was scheduled, as well as if his comments reflect on his ability to govern or work with people of different religious denominations. His office did not respond by the given deadline.

No Republicans have commented on the sermon or Diaz’s comments.

Diaz does not hide his preference of combining state politics with his personal religion. His main website brandishes a large cross overlaying the American flag. it also says he began a career in civil service after “God called him to reach out to his community.”

House Democrats, though, argued back moments after Diaz concluded. Rep. Lorena Austin (D-Mesa), one of the nation’s only non-binary lawmakers, said that “the Jesus I grew up learning” was kind and compassionate and doesn’t denounce anyone.

“A prayer is not a sermon,” Austin said. “And we were elected to serve the people and make laws to make their lives better, not condemn them.”

In statements released by the Arizona LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus, Rep. Patty Contreras (D-Phoenix) said that the speech was religious bigotry on full display:

“Monday’s sermon was a coordinated and cynical display of religious intolerance, which used a coincidence in the calendar to attack LGBTQ+ Arizonans, and anyone who doesn’t fall in line with one member’s view of Christianity,” said Contreras, who is the vice-chair of the caucus.

Rep. Oscar De Los Santos (D.-Phoenix) who is also vice chair echoed Contreras’s statement, saying: “I stood and respectfully listened as my colleague damned me to Hell, but it is outrageous to hear such intolerance, divisiveness and disrespect directed at so many Arizonans inside the People’s House, with Republican members standing in support. This was a shameful moment.”

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