The White House has live-streamed a church service which saw the US vice-president speak and a bishop claim ”the devil” causes homosexuality.
“It is a demonic spirit that causes a woman to want to live with another woman,” he said. “It is a demonic spirit that causes a man to be attracted to another man.”
The preacher, who has been named as the bishop Jerry Wayne Taylor, claimed the “devil” is trying to “destroy the foundation of marriage” and “cut off the reproduction process”.
“Two men can’t have a baby. Two women can’t have a baby,” he told the congregation at the Holy City Church of God in Christ.
The White House has been condemned on social media for having streamed the sermon on its Youtube channel, with users calling it "outrageous".
One person tweeted: "Did I misunderstand the part about separation of church and state?"
The vice-president - known for his religious conservatism – said he visited the Memphis church to celebrate its anniversary and Martin Luther King, the day before a national holiday commemorated the civil rights leader.
Sharing a picture of himself at the pulpit, Mr Pence said: “We honour [King] by continuing the work he so nobly advanced of forming a more perfect Union with liberty and justice for all.”
After Mr Pence spoke, the bishop told the crowd that homosexuality goes against human nature. ”You never see two male animals coming together,” he falsely claimed.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leading voice of the civil rights movement who called on our nation to live up to the highest ideals of our founding. We honor him by continuing the work he so nobly advanced of forming a more perfect Union with liberty and justice for all. pic.twitter.com/FziY9GCRPR— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence)January 19, 2020
“We’ve got to expose what the devil is doing," the bishop added after his incorrect comment about the animal kingdom. "I might get beat up out in the wild but that’s alright.”
Donald Trump, the US president, reportedly once joked Mr Pence “wanted to hang all gay people”.
Speaking to Christian university graduates last year, he said people can be "shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible" in the current climate and defended the US administration's anti-abortion stance.
The vice-president thanked the Tennessee church for its “warm welcome” after his visit over the weekend.
“In these divided times,” he tweeted, “let us remember Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr as he challenged the conscience of a nation and touched the hearts of millions of Americans.”