A church which put up a sign reading “America: love it or leave it" found some members of its congregation walking out.
Pastor EW Lucas put up the sign, which echoes controversial statements made recently by President Donald Trump, outside the Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox, Virginia.
“I've tried to be honest," Mr Lucas told WSET-TV.
“I've tried to do what's right."
“But I believe in my country. I love my country. And I don't mind standing up for the country."
This sign outside of an Appomattox church is drawing lots of support and criticism on social media. https://t.co/huuLLO0jmF— Valencia E. Jones (@Valencia E. Jones)1563330320.0
The sign courted national attention after being put up last week in support of Mr Trump, drawing both condemnation and support.
And Mr Lucas told WSET-TV that during his service on Sunday, a number of worshippers got up and left.
Pastor E. W. Lucas and his wife shared how he has put up signs since he started Friendship Baptist Church in 1979.… https://t.co/NOv2MfKHci— Valencia E. Jones (@Valencia E. Jones)1563330534.0
Not everyone loves the 'being told to leave' part, saying they can not like the state of the country and still love… https://t.co/wDeRlIDevA— Valencia E. Jones (@Valencia E. Jones)1563330825.0
@vjreports3 Funny, I was told the same thing about Christianity. I left.— His Dudeness (@His Dudeness)1563465950.0
@vjreports3 Yeah, exactly what Jesus said.— CDeke (@CDeke)1563489069.0
@vjreports3 You can (and should) love your country without blindly accepting everything it does. In fact, love of c… https://t.co/tnyYt2Z4j2— Devin Nunes hates Soviet-style Impeachment! (@Devin Nunes hates Soviet-style Impeachment!)1563831526.0
@vjreports3 If you want to get political start paying taxes. Until then shut your pie hole— Rob Fontano (@Rob Fontano)1563810059.0
@vjreports3 I thought there is supposed to be a separation of state & church in this country. If churches hop on th… https://t.co/H5AhsNBl9j— S Finnegan (@S Finnegan)1563485879.0
The sign was put up after Mr Trump expressed similar sentiments in tweets and at a rally, in particular in relation to four Democratic congresswomen.
Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1563279470.0
@vjreports3 anything trump touches dies— Emma Osade (@Emma Osade)1563845919.0
He suggested Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came".
He also tweeted:
“If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!"
Mr Lucas suggested he would continue to express his support for the president, adding:
“People that feel hard about our president and want to down the president, and down the country and everything, they ought to go over there and live in these other countries for a little while."