Joel Tooley, lead pastor at First Church Of The Nazarene in Melbourne, said that both he and his daughter were traumatized after attending President Donald Trump’s rally in Florida over the weekend.
In a lengthy Facebook post written after Trump’s Saturday rally, Tooley explains that he had not supported the Republican presidential candidate but he felt that attending a presidential speech would be a good civics lesson for his daughter.
Tooley writes that he was disturbed by the “almost church-like” way Trump supporters sang Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA.
“People were being ushered into a deeply religious experience…and it made me completely uncomfortable,” the pastor recalls. “I felt like people were here to worship an ideology along with the man who was leading it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the song per se – it was this inexplicable movement that was happening in the room. It was a religious zeal.”
Tooley describes First Lady Melania Trump’s reading of the Lord’s Prayer as “theatrical and manipulative.”
“I can’t explain it, but I felt sick,” he notes. “People across the room were reciting it as if it were a pep squad cheer. At the close of the prayer, the room erupted in cheering. It was so uncomfortable.”
After the president began speaking, Tooley says that Trump fans squared off against protesters in the crowd.
“Two ladies in front of them began seething and screaming in their face while shaking their Trump signs at [the protesters],” he writes. “As they continued chanting, the people around them became violently enraged. One angry man grabbed the lady’s arm – that’s when I went into action. I barged through the crowd and yelled at them to back off.”
“My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear,” Tooley reveals. “The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, ‘F*#% YOU!’ Repeatedly.”
I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.
I raised my voice and calmly said, “These ladies have the right to do what they are doing and they are harming no one; this is America and they a right to express themselves in this way. They are harming no one.” A couple of other people around me stepped in and supported me in protecting them as a barrier, as well.
My daughter was shaking in fear as she clung to me. The one man behind the protesters shoved himself forward, grabbed the lady by the arm and screamed with multiple expletives, “I’m going to take you out! This is my president and nobody has the right to disrespect him and nobody has the right to keep me from hearing him!”
Tooley states that he eventually lost track of what Trump was saying because of the ongoing scuffles.
“My kid was shaken – she had just seen some of the worst of humanity,” the pastor laments in his Facebook post. “But, at the end of the day, what I felt from his leadership in this experience was actually horrifying. There was palpable fear in the room. There was thick anger and vengeance. He was counting on it.”
Read Tooley’s entire post below.