JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As a stand-up comedian, Sarah Silverman is used to courting controversy, but she says a Jacksonville pastor’s reaction to a joke she made over a decade ago is no laughing matter.
"If I get murdered, start here," Silverman tweeted Thursday with a link to a filmed sermon given by Law of Liberty Baptist Church’s Adam Fannin, who was previously affiliated with Stedfast Baptist Church.
The video clip shows Fannin going off on Silverman, who is Jewish, saying he hopes she dies and calling her a "God-hating whore of Zionism” — all because of a joke featured in her 2005 comedy special.
This is Adam Fannin of the Stedfast Baptist Church in Florida and he is going to get me killed. pic.twitter.com/I6Us59o59v— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 8, 2019
Silverman, who expressed fears that Fannin’s anti-Semitic rhetoric "is going to get me killed," went into detail about her concerns in a lengthy follow-up note posted on her Twitter account Thursday night.
"It goes like this: Someone on the Right made a meme of a joke from Jesus is Magic, a comedy special I did in character and presented it as if I was saying it at a press conference. It’s a picture of me with the quote ‘I’m glad the Jews killed Jesus. I’d do it again!’ And THAT is what triggered the pastor. So, the person who made the meme knew it was comedy and intentionally repurposed it as real, knowing it would influence a swath of people who see it and share it everyday. And that’s America today. Incitements of violence based on lies and the disingenuous re-framings of truth."
Attempts on Friday to reach Fannin were unsuccessful. A message left with Law of Liberty, an independent Baptist church based in Jacksonville, was not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, it might give Silverman some comfort to know that Fannin was let go from Stedfast Baptist Church, Pastor Jonathan Shelley said in a YouTube video uploaded Friday in response to her tweets.
"Adam Fannin is fired from Stedfast Baptist Church, but it's not for the reason that you think," he said. "It's not for anything he said about you. It's actually because six months ago, we found out this guy's a liar, this guy's a railer, this guy's super selfish. And, you know, the character of him is just a rail."
Stedfast Baptist Church in Jacksonville is currently led by Theo Matthews, who said he met Fannin earlier this year.
"He was never a pastor here. He was here at the church. He was leading the church when he was here," the church leader said.
Since Silverman's tweet Thursday, Matthews said the Stedfast Baptist Church in Jacksonville has gotten a lot of phone calls.
"Let's say 100," Matthews told News4Jax on Friday.