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Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for burning Christian church's LGBTQ flag. Church's pastor says Christians must make serious amends to LGBTQ people.


Does the punishment fit the crime?

Photo by JOSE CABEZAS/AFP via Getty Images

Adolfo Martinez, 30, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for burning an LGBTQ flag that was flying at an Iowa church.

Martinez of Ames, Iowa, was also sentenced to one year for reckless use of explosives or fire and 30 days for harassment.

What are the details?

Authorities arrested Martinez in June after he tore down the flag hanging at the United Church of Christ in Ames because of his opposition to homosexuality.

Martinez reportedly stole the church's LGBTQ flag and burned it outside of a strip club on June 11.

In November, the Des Moines Register reported that the church's pastor responded to the incident by insisting that Christians have a duty to fight against bigotry.

The pastor, Eileen Gebbie — who is also a member of the LGBTQ community — said that the incident emboldened local LGBTQ allies.

"I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here," Gebbie told the newspaper. "But 12 people that I don't know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime, and it was crime borne of bigotry and hatred."

What about a new flag?

Gebbie said she made sure to reinstall a new flag after Martinez tore down the first.

"Everyone was just so happy and glad to do it and so really proud to stand next to it [the new flag] and say, 'Yes, this is what we believe about God and God's adoration of all people,'" Gebbie explained.

"I think churches, Christian churches have a very specific duty to combat and make up for the depths of spiritual and actual violence that Christian churches have done to the LGBTQIA people," Gebbie added. "Just as Christian churches have done to significant damage to communities of color."

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