Oklahoma Pastor Paul Blair Faces Death Threats After Opposing Gay Rights Legislation
An Oklahoma pastor says he has been receiving death threats over his opposition to a new Oklahoma City policy that prevents gays and lesbians from being fired because of their sexual orientation.
"There were several threats," Rev. Paul Blair, of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, told The Huffington Post. "We just let them go to voice mail so we could have a record of them. The calls continued to get louder and the caller's anger continued to increase."
One threat, made Wednesday at 4:12 a.m., carried the warning, "I have committed homicide more than one time and in more than one state and yet have not been caught or charged."
Another message claimed a bomb had been placed inside the church. "Detonate it. Detonate it," the caller chanted.
The calls continued until 2 p.m., Blair said.
"It is highly recommended that you have somebody to answer the phone of your church, especially the dumb ass Pastor Blair," the caller warned. "Women should not be in a position in a church of employment that is non-Christian. It is recommended that a man answer the phone at your f--king establishment. I will be seeing you soon!"
Blair said a total of 10 messages were left during an eight hour period, including one that took aim at his wife.
"I wanna f--k his wife. I'm gonna f--k Pastor Blair's wife," the caller said.
The threatening messages were left one day after Blair attended a City Council meeting in Oklahoma and voiced opposition to a resolution proposed by Councilman Ed Shadid. The resolution suggested amending the city's employment policy to include a specific reference to discrimination based upon sexual orientation.
"I would propose that we let the city be the employer, and let God be the judge. Let God sort this out later, and let us act objectively based on somebody's job performance and that's it," Shadid said, according to the Oklahoman.
Prior to the council vote, community members were given the opportunity to share their opinion on the resolution. Blair was among the opponents.
"Why are we creating a special class of protection for someone's behavior? We're not talking about civil rights. This is not a gender, or this is not a race," Blair said.
The pastor reportedly added: "Why not provide a special class of protection for adulterers or a special class of protection for those that are addicted to Internet pornography?"
After listening to both sides, the resolution passed by a 7-2 vote.
"I am a Baptist preacher but I didn't get up there to preach the Bible," Blair said of the meeting. "One of the points that I made was simply this would be dealing with transgender rights, so you cannot discriminate against a male that wishes to take a shower in a female locker room or use the restroom. I said you need to consider the rights of the woman involved in this situation. I would not consider that inflammatory. It was just a statement of fact."
Nonetheless, someone was apparently upset enough by Blair's remarks to prompt the flurry of phone calls to his church. Blair said when he heard the first few messages he "realized it was not fun and games," and contacted the police.
According to Blair, the person responsible is already feeling the heat.
"After this hit the local media, we received a phone call from a 7-Eleven payphone," Blair said. "It was the same guy, but he was apologetic. He said, 'Listen, Pastor Blair has the right to say whatever he wants at the city council meeting and I would never hurt anybody and God bless you Pastor Blair.'"
Blair said he is hoping for some resolution -- something he feels would have already occurred under different circumstances.
"If a Christian had made similar phone calls to the local gay alliance, they would have been arrested and thrown in jail in a matter of minutes," Blair said. "It is shameful it had to happen. It is not a laughing matter."
The Edmond Police Department said it is actively investigating the case.
"It is of course a huge concern whenever a pastor, his family and the congregation are threatened with such violence," said police spokeswoman Glynda Chu. "We are encouraging anyone that might have information on the case or think they may recognize the voice on the phone making the threats to contact the Edmond Police department."
While the investigation is still open, police may not have to look far. According to Blair, the caller made a vital mistake when he made his initial calls. "The guy left his caller id, which is amazing," Blair said.
Meanwhile, Blair said he is not going to waste any time looking over his shoulder.
"My faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ and I really don't worry about things," he said. "I want to make sure my congregation is protected. We have a Christian school at this facility, so it isn't just about trying to get me. I am not worried about myself. Ultimately, you can't worry. You have to do the best you can, make smart decisions and trust god."