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'America: Love or Leave it': Controversial sign outside Virginia church in wake of Trump's 'racist' tweets sparks outrage

The sign posted outside the Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox has courted severe backlash from social media users while pastor Lucas affirms he has no second thoughts on it
UPDATED JUL 19, 2019

A Virginia church has sparked controversy after a sign posted outside echoed President Trump's recent comments and asked people to either love the country or leave it.

The Friendship Baptist Church on Red House Road in Appomattox has drawn mixed reactions over a sign that reads, "America: Love or Leave it," with some praising the stance and others not taking too kindly to it, according to ABC News 13.

EW Lucas, who founded the church in 1979 along with his wife and now serves as the pastor, has no doubts about it and wants to leave it up for everyone to see.

Lucas told the media outlet that the original plan was to comment on the political divide in Washington but that he changed course after having an epiphany. "It just came to me," he revealed. "I just said, 'America, I love it. If you don't love it, leave it'."

Quite a few loved the move and took to social media to praise Lucas and the church. "Love it! Simple and exactly to the point," one wrote, while another posted, "Great sign...I believe a lot of Americans feel that way." A third commented, "Love the message in Appimatox!! Leave it up!!!"

However, several more expressed how the sign was inherently un-American and was further deepening the divide. "I guess they missed the part in the Bible that says love thy neighbor, treat the sojourner in your country as yourself, treat refugees with kindness... glad I never visited that church," one user wrote.

Another hit back, "Great name 'Friendship Church'. Sort of tells you all you need to know about religion in this part of the country." A third shared, "You can love your country and have no respect for the current government."

However, the backlash has not fazed Lucas, who said his duties as a pastor outshines any negativity towards the church. "Preachers, by and large, today, are afraid they're gonna hurt somebody's feelings, and when I get in the pulpit, I'm afraid I won't hurt somebody's feelings," he explained.

He also said people should be thankful for living in America and shared Trump's controversial opinion that anyone complaining about the current state of affairs should just up and leave. "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," he added.