Landon Schott’s confusing but mostly LGBTQ-bashing social media posts have made him a pariah to many and a celebrity to right-wing nuts seeking elected office.
“You are obedient!” the Mercy Culture Church leader recently posted on his Instagram story. “You’re not hateful, mean, judgmental, intolerant, or bigoted because you choose to honor God’s word!”
The preacher caught our attention because backers of a new PAC, Tarrant County Conservatives, maintain close ties with Schott’s Fort Worth-based place of worship. The PAC funds a website that falsely portrays former mayor Betsy Price as an abortion-loving communist, and that misinformation campaign may have led to Price’s recent loss to Tim O’Hare in the Republican primary for county judge. Following that victory, O’Hare made an appearance at Mercy Culture.
“Huge win!” Schott posted on Instagram. “Looking forward to watching you walk all the way to victory in November.”
Federal laws forbid church leaders from engaging in political endorsements, but that hasn’t stopped Schott from telling his congregation to vote for local state rep candidate Nate Schatzline, who calls for placing “Godly” candidates in office, and district attorney candidate Matt Krause, among other meanspirited wack-jobs. Schott’s stated goal is for right-wing crazies like him to “expand territory” in government.
When our news magazine posted that Tarrant County Conservatives’ treasurer, Erik Richerson, is a self-described worship leader at Mercy Culture Church, members of the megachurch’s congregation flocked to @FortWorthWeekly to allege that our publication is run by Satan — it is? kick ass! — and that our editorial board would understand everything if we just went to one of their Sunday services. Several self-described Mercy Culture supporters wrote that Schott is just one of several pastors even as Schott remains clear about his central role in founding the place of worship.
“I had no idea that, five years later, we would be all in this room together,” Schott said during a recent livestreamed sermon. “What makes [Mercy Culture Church] holy ground? When we are looking to take spiritual territory, we are looking for spiritual ground where God’s already at. I remember when God gave us this [building]. I remember shortly after, we had signed the papers.”
Several Instagram users privately thanked us for outing a church that preaches hate, openly endorses political candidates, and allegedly mandates church attendance as a prerequisite for participating in programs managed by Mercy Culture’s staff.
We’ve read enough of Schott’s social media messages to know he is a homophobic, holier-than-thou jerk who, like O’Hare, hides behind nutso conspiracy theories and Talibanesque interpretations of the Bible as a means of spreading his delusions to unwitting or complicit followers. If gay people are going to hell, then so are divorcees. It’s there in the Bible. You should try reading it sometime and not just the politically convenient parts.
Mercy Culture is far from alone in its perverse desire to impede progress. A 2020 poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that white evangelicals are far less likely to support laws that protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination. While around 60% of Catholics and non-evangelical Protestants support those protections, only one-third of white evangelicals do.
We recently asked O’Hare if, as county judge, he would take steps to protect transgender youths. He said the “Bible is the holy word of God,” which we took as a “no.”
Schott is far better suited to teaching hate than mercy. In one Instagram post, he addressed same-sex weddings.
“I would not recommend going and supporting a sinful lifestyle,” Schott responded.
American views on homosexuality have evolved significantly since the mid-1990s, when fewer than one-third of Americans were OK with same-sex marriage. Only 28% of respondents to the 2020 annual American Values Survey said they don’t support the right of same-sex couples to wed, meaning that most of us do. The percentage of adults who identify as queer is soaring, according to a recent Gallup poll. Around 20% of Gen Z — older teens and younger twentysomethings — identify as LGBTQ+.
Mercy Culture Church’s congregation undoubtedly influenced the recent Republican primary in favor of zealots who openly ignore this county’s separation between church and state. Any movement that is founded on exclusion will find, in the end, that it has a shorter-than-expected shelf life, and something already smells rotten at this megachurch.
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Columns will be gently edited for factuality and clarity