CARBON HILL - The pastor of First Baptist Church of Carbon Hill said Wednesday that Carbon Hill Mayor Mark Chambers should resign, after the church received a threat by voice mail Tuesday night that …
CARBON HILL - The pastor of First Baptist Church of Carbon Hill said Wednesday that Carbon Hill Mayor Mark Chambers should resign, after the church received a threat by voice mail Tuesday night that appeared to be in retribution for Chamber's recent remarks on Facebook.
Rev. Scott McCullar posted late Tuesday night that a threat had been made to the church in relation to the controversy of the mayor's comments on Facebook that were interpreted by many to call for LGBTQ people and others to be killed. The mayor on Tuesday apologized for the comments and said they were misinterpreted, but said he would not resign.
On Wednesday, Police Chief Eric House confirmed the incident had been reported to the department at 8:42 p.m. Tuesday. McCullar said Thursday a report would be filed.
"I'm going to treat it like a terrorist threat and go from there," House said, saying no phone number was displayed from the caller. There are no suspects at this time.
"Actually, all my churches are on high alert, just to make sure everyone knows we're not going to tolerate any kind of threats like this," House said.
However, he cautioned that the police department was not going to weigh in politically in the controversy surrounding the mayor.
McCullar played the voice mail Wednesday for the Daily Mountain Eagle. The voice mail, left on the church answering machine at 8:20 p.m. Tuesday and discovered by McCullar later that night, said, "Mark Chambers wants all the gay people to be executed. So all the intelligent people want your (expletive) church to burn down. See how that works? Until it is illegal to be in possession of a sentiment, I hope you get (expletive) cancer and die in a fire."
McCullar noted Tuesday the voice did not have a Southern accent and called on a private number. He said he did not think the threat was credible but was serious enough that he called police and church leaders, including the security team.
He noted the mayor is not a member of First Baptist, nor does he attend there. "He has no association with this church," he said.
McCullar does not know if the caller may have just come up with a Google search and that the church may have been the first to come up, or if something about the church may have been implied for Chambers' Facebook page.
However, he said he has talked with other church leaders in the city, some of whom are nervous for their own houses of worship.
At the same time, First Baptist members have been calling McCullar and checking up on him, offering support, McCullar said. "I've been on the phone all day," with people calling and texting him.
"We don't associate with that statement and that reference, that idea, revolution or whatever he is talking about," he said, nor the idea of killing people. "We think that is awful. We want everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and not people to be put to death. I don't know what he meant. I'm not going to try to speak to what he meant by it. I don't have any idea. All I know is, I don't agree with the words or I'm sure the intent. Whatever it was, I don't agree with it."
McCullar said on Facebook Tuesday, "I am heartbroken over the mess that has engulfed our community of Carbon Hill, Alabama, over the comments of our Mayor. I am frustrated with the comments that the mayor made, regardless of his intent or motive."
He noted Tuesday he had talked to District 1 Carbon Hill Councilman McClain Burrough about the situation, as he is in Burrough's district. He has talked with many people in the town about how they feel about the incident, although he feels people in the city "think he said the wrong thing. I imagine they do not agree, by and large, with what he said, and that they wish he had never said it. I can only imagine. How could they think anything different? ... The people who come to this church are not that way."
McCullar, asked what he would say to people as a pastor now, said he feels everyone "needs to calm down," noting everyone can get upset in situations like this. "Then everyone starts saying things and acting in ways they probably wouldn't do in a normal situation. I think people should take a deep breath but should stand on what good principles are. We ought not say things like that and we ought not support those kind of statements in any form or fashion."
While he said he hesitated about posting online as he didn't want to be a part of the story, he also didn't think after the threat that it was alright to stay silent, noting the concern of other pastors a threat could happen to their churches. He noted no other churches had received a threat by that point.
McCullar then volunteered what he thinks should happen at this point.
"I'm scared to say this, but I think he should resign," McCullar said. "I don't think there is any question. That's probably going to get me in trouble to say that. But what other way is there? This has now gone global," noting the controversy over Chambers was even reported by the BBC in the Great Britain. "Our city needs peace and good press. It's for the good of the town and the good of the city. I think he should resign immediately, because you can't say things like that and have credibility as a leader. I think it would calm things down immediately if he stepped down.
"I don't want to have any issue with Mark. I don't want any problems with him. It is nothing personal against Mark at all, but I think he needs to resign."