- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2020

A group of pastors who were preaching in Seattle’s “autonomous zone” through Thursday has also raised a cry against a left-winger’s call this week to demolish “white European” statues of Jesus.

In a video made inside Seattle’s so-called “CHOP,” the pastors as members of Peaceablygather.com denounce recent tweets from Shaun King that called for the desecration of “white European” religious symbols.

“It is despicable that at a time like this, when we should be talking about racial reconciliation, equality, justice, and fair treatment by law enforcement and the law, to try to attack statues of Jesus,” said LaShund Lambert, an African-American pastor from the Resurrection Church in Auburn, Washington.

“Next they’ll come for the cross,” warned Kendrick Timbo, a Black minister at Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mr. Lambert and Mr. Timbo were among several pastors who joined Peaceablygather.com founder Brian Gibson, a Louisville pastor who formed the group early in the COVID-19 pandemic to counter efforts by Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and other officials to shutter churches.

Mr. Gibson left the CHOP on Thursday afternoon after five days there while other members shuttled in-and-out of the autonomous zone that Seattle officials began to shut down after three people were shot there last weekend. By Thursday, the “police-free” downtown enclave held only a few hundred people, Mr. Gibson said.

While he is not aware of any Jesus statues that have been destroyed since Mr. King’s call, he pointed to graffiti and even a fire that have struck several churches, including the famous St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House.

The churches were engulfed in the middle of, or targeted by, demonstrators who have caused unrest in myriad U.S. cities since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis policeman on Memorial Day.

“I’ve seen such radical acts on the ground I can see it spreading to churches,” Mr. Gibson said. “It could happen very quickly.”

Mr. Gibson described throngs of people largely hostile to his religious message inside the CHOP, although he managed to find common ground with many, he said.

“If your words don’t fit their dialogue, well, free speech is dead up there,” he said. “They try to intimidate you, but I don’t like a thought police.”

A number of conservative commentators denounced Mr. King’s suggestion this week, and the call has resurfaced many of the complaints about his tactics. For example, in May 2018 Mr. King led an accusation of rape against a white state trooper in Texas who was completely exonerated by hours of body cam footage, and some Black Lives Matter and other leftist agitators have raised questions about how Mr. King handles money he has raised for various causes.

In response, Mr. King has threatened litigation against those who accused him of misappropriating charitable donations.

Jordan Kreisle, a pastor at His Church in Amarillo, Texas, also spoke on the Peaceablygather.com video against Mr. King.

“Shaun King has called for the demolition of houses of worship and we stand against that vehemently,” Mr. Kreisle declared, dubbing Mr. King’s call a form of “terrorism.”

Although Peaceablygather.com states its intent is to “prosecute any vandals or agitators to the full extent of the law,” and to “hold government leaders responsible who refuse to respond to church and property attacks,” it also declares a willingness to “use physical force to protect their property and safety.”

Mr. Gibson said he could see how some might find that declaration incompatible with the group’s moniker, but he compares a church to “a family.”

“Our name comes from the First Amendment, but the Second Amendment allows us to protect ourselves,” he said. “I’m not coming to your house to cause trouble, but if you come to my house I will defend my family.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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