GREENSBURG, Ind. — An Indiana church is on lock down and its pastor has left for an undisclosed location after a video recording surfaced this week of a toddler singing an anti-gay song at the church altar, that included the lyrics, “Ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven.”
Members of the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Ind., on Wednesday told media outlets that the church’s office has been receiving harassing calls and its pastor received death threats at his home since the video was posted on several LGBT blogs and subsequently went viral.
In the video, church Pastor Jeff Sangl can been seen in smiling and nodding in approval behind the unidentified youth.
Church members can be seen applauding and cheering the toddler as he sings the anti-gay verse — “I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong- Romans 1 and 27, ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven” — with one person shouting, “That’s my boy!”
Click to watch video:
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According to some congregants, a prayer meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening at church was moved to a secret location, and church members also said that Sangl, accompanied by his wife, abruptly left on vacation to an undisclosed location out of concern for his safety.
Criticism from LGBT activists has been swift, prompting the church to post this statement on its website:
The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives.
We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible. We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.
Noted author Anne Rice, whose son Christopher is openly gay, posted the video to her Facebook page, writing, “In this country, Christians can teach toddlers to hate and to persecute, and we, through the automatic tax exemption for churches, foot the bill.”
Author Dan Savage, a gay rights advocate and co-founder of the “It Gets Better Project,” wrote in his column Wednesday:
“The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle is in Greensburg, Indiana. That’s the town where Billy Lucas was bullied to death for being perceived to be gay by his classmates. I wonder if they stood up and cheered at Apostolic Truth Tabernacle when Lucas died—hey, another homo in hell.
I wonder if any of Lucas’s tormenters attend services at Apostolic Truth Tabernacle. And remember: I’m an anti-Christian bully for pointing out the connection between what straight kids are taught about ‘homos’ in the shithole mega-churches they’re dragged to by their parents and what they turn around and do to ‘homos’ they encounter in classrooms. And what if that precocious little four-year-old singer is gay? Praise the Lord and pass the barf bags.”
TMZ reported Wednesday that despite the threats, all the members they spoke to had no regrets about the song getting posted online — in fact one said, “The people who are upset just don’t read the word of God. If we don’t teach the children the truth early they will never learn.”
Update: “To my knowledge, there are no death threats at this time,” Decatur County Sheriff Gregory Allen told Fox News on Thursday.
Allen said that Sangl, who has left town and could not be reached for comment, contacted the department and asked him to keep an eye on the church’s property following the surfacing of the video.