A pastor from a rabidly anti-LGBTQ church in Waco has resigned after being arrested on a prostitution charge for allegedly soliciting sex at a local massage parlor.
Edward Ignacio Espinosa, 41, stepped down from his position as community outreach pastor at Antioch Community Church, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports.
Antioch Community Church, a nondenominational evangelical congregation, made national headlines in 2016 related to senior pastor Senior Pastor Jimmy Seibert’s anti-LGBTQ views. The church’s members reportedly include Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of the reality TV show Fixer Upper.
Seibert opposes same-sex marriage and has endorsed the dangerous, discredited idea that gay people can change their sexual orientation.
“Truth No. 1: Homosexuality is a sin. The lie: Homosexuality is not a sin,” Seibert said in a June 2015 sermon responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of nationwide marriage equality.
Seibert added that “the statistics say that 90 percent of people who are in a full-blown homosexual lifestyle were abused in some way—physically, sexually, mentally.”
“We have people and young people that never had any intention of a same-sex attraction et cetera, who have seen sexuality up front in pornography and now are trapped in the addiction of it,” Seibert said.
“We can change, contrary to what you hear,” he added. “I’ve worked with people for over 30 years — I have seen hundreds of people personally change their direction of same-sex attraction from a homosexual lifestyle to a heterosexual lifestyle. It doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with feelings, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t hurting, it doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. But they have chosen to change. And there has always been grace there for those who choose that.”
In response to Espinosa’s arrest, Seibert told the Tribune-Herald: “We continue to be committed to helping heal whatever is broken, whether on behalf of the victim or the victimizer, we believe restoration is still possible through Jesus Christ.”
Antioch Community Church’s own anti-human trafficking ministry, UnBound, assisted the women who were found at the massage parlor that Espinosa visited, the newspaper reports. The women who were at the massage parlor were human trafficking victims who were forced to have sex with clients.