By Steve Hunley

There has been a lot of attention paid to the remarks made by Knox County Sheriff’s deputy Grayson Fritts, as there should have been.  Fritts, a pastor, called for gay people to be executed in a sermon to his flock.  It is incredible to think any legitimate minister would say such a thing, especially when one considers Jesus was executed.

Several public officials have rightly pointed out the basis for Christianity is love, not hate.  Some folks have been bothered by the fact Fritts is eligible to take an early retirement from Knox County.  The early retirement program is available to all those county employees who qualify and ultimately saves taxpayers money.  The Focus has pointed out in the past that Sheriff’s deputies enjoy a much better pension than regular county employees.  It is true some have been able to retire at close to full salary despite the fact the Knox County Charter clearly states no employee may retire at more than 75% of his/her salary.  Sheriff’s deputies get 2 ½ times the amount paid into their pension accounts than other Knox County employees.  Sheriff’s deputies also receive a lifetime pension, which other county employees do not.

No public employee in Knox County deserves more than the law will allow irrespective of what supposed formula is computed by a particular department or board.  This is one reason so many pension funds have so great a liability and eventually the taxpayers will have to make up the difference.  When the special pension plan for the Sheriff’s department was narrowly approved by county voters, Knox County had to immediately come up with $60 million to put into the pension plan.

The horrendous remarks and views of Grayson Fritts have caused many of our tcitizens to pay attention to early retirement and pension benefits.  It is nothing less than a disgrace that a supposed man of God would express views that are utterly vile and completely unacceptable.

It is a shocking reminder that there are still those among us who have views that are not only disgusting, but disturbingly like those of a ruthless totalitarian regime.  Hates does nothing except paralyzes one’s life, while love allows one perfect freedom.

While the Sheriff and I may not agree about the pension problem in Knox County, I will say that Sheriff Tom Spangler deserves no blame for Grayson Fritts and did only what he could in a very difficult and embarrassing situation.  Spangler is in no way responsible for the hateful views expressed by Grayson Fritts and I am sure he was as surprised by the deputy’s comments as much as anyone of us.

Jesus never advocated the execution of anyone and Grayson Fritts’ views are reprehensible in the extreme and brought disgrace upon himself and our community.  The end of love, someone once wrote, is the beginning of war.  Nothing good comes from hatred and it poisons the soul, the very thing that separates human beings from God’s lower creatures.  Unfortunately, we are occasionally reminded that even some human beings have not only a base nature, but in fact act like lower creatures themselves.  All we can do is make it clear that we do not agree with them and pray for them as well.