A Tempe church is warning all Valley religious organizations about a man storming into its office using inflammatory, graphic language about the LGBT community, citing Donald Trump’s presidential win as permission.
Tempe police said the stranger saw the rainbow flag hanging outside the Community Christian Church on Wednesday and went inside the office to voice his disgust.
“It made me so angry and afraid for our country,” Pastor Doug Bland said.
Aside from the man voicing his hatred for the LGBT community, he threatened to pay people to protest outside the church and spread lies about pedophilia among the congregation.
“He said that if Hillary would have won he would have driven right on by the church without stopping, but because Trump won he felt he had permission to say and act the way he wanted to expressing the hate that he had for this particular group of people,” Bland said.
The pastor said his employee kept her composure and didn’t escalate the situation. The man eventually left without further incident.
“I think it’s a challenge to us to make sure we respond with love and with grace instead of responding hate for hate,” Bland said.
Church officials said a new banner saying “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” put up beside the rainbow flag is a perfect response to the incident. According to Bland, the phrase is in reference to the 1984 Bruce Cockburn song.
“No matter when we’re living there’s always going to be some kind of cloud hanging over us, conflict we have to face,” Bland said. “Right now the division in our country over what does a real democracy look like and how can we be citizens together and move forward as a nation is sort of the cloud that we’re facing.”
Bland posted information about the incident on social media which has gone viral as a “prayer chain” to promote love and tolerance.
“This is a good opportunity for us to really practice what we preach,” Bland said.
“I hear it as this is really the heart of who we are, that the hate-filled language and acts are an exception to the rule,” he said.
According to Tempe police, the incident was documented but detectives said the man didn’t commit a crime. He threatened to spread lies and picket the church but didn’t cause bodily harm. If he returns, the man could be cited with trespassing.