An Alabama pastor has called for those protesting the national anthem to be shot.
According to AL.com, Pastor Allen Joyner said the incendiary comment during a Friday night football game at Houston County High School.
“If you don’t want to stand for the national anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots at you since they’re taking shots for you.”
The original post about Joyner’s comments, posted by Denise Crowley-Whitfield, was shared more than 4,700 times and included more than 50 comments, all positive, before being taken down.
Joyner’s comments were reportedly met with cheers and praise.
However, Butler County Schools Superintendent Amy Bryan denounced the remarks, saying, “Patriotism should be a part of school events but threats of shooting people who aren’t patriotic, even in jest, have no place at a school. Threats of violence are a violation of school policy and certainly not condoned by the school board.”
The pastor’s church, Sweet Home Baptist Church, is standing by Joyner and his comments, stating in a Facebook post that his words were taken out of context. The church’s response was met with disapproval, however, when Mark Bender, an Air Force veteran from Texas, called Joyner’s remarks “abhorrent and disgusting.”
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Bender wrote, “We fight so that all Americans retain their rights and freedoms to protest. I would never turn a weapon on my own countryman simply because they protest by remaining seated during the national anthem, by refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, refusing to stand or pledge during any act. These things we do, these pledges, these songs, these are not compulsory acts.”
“They are acts that we are all free to join or not. I am proud that we have that freedom whether or not I agree with someone’s non-violent protest,” he continued. “You, on the other hand are promoting extremist violence by way of state sanctioned executions. You are obviously standing for the compulsory actions by way of preaching hatred, jingoism, American exceptionalism — all because people do not believe or think as you do. I am grateful that the majority of Americans do not thirst for their brother’s blood as you do. You are a disgrace, those who agree with you are a disgrace, and you are a black mark upon this great nation. You should certainly hang your heads in shame.”
The school board will meet next, where the matter will be addressed. Bryan says she’s unsure if action will be taken against Joyner.