California

Minister's 'vile' tweets trashing Palo Alto as a 'den of hate' cost him his job

An associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto has resigned his post after a series of Twitter posts blasting the California community, calling it “an elitist s--- den of hate,” surfaced during a dispute over a city permit.
An associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto has resigned his post after a series of Twitter posts blasting the California community, calling it “an elitist s--- den of hate,” surfaced during a dispute over a city permit. KGO

On his public Twitter account, the Rev. Gregory Stevens vented his frustrations with Palo Alto and senior citizens who "always fall asleep" at his church.

Stevens called the California city, home to Stanford University, “an elitist s--- den of hate” and “disgusting,” reported The Palo Alto Daily Post. He also took issue with seniors at church meetings, who he wrote “always fall asleep. Always. ALWAYS. FALL ASLEEP.”

Stevens also called the city's Earth Day "social justice" efforts "a f---ing joke," according to the publication.

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The Rev. Gregory Stevens, an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, has resigned his post after a series of Twitter posts blasting the California community, calling it “an elitist s--- den of hate,” surfaced during a dispute over a city permit. KGO

Those posts, and others, cost Stevens his job as an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto. when they surfaced May 14 during a Palo Alto City Council meeting. The city council was debating whether to let the church rent out facilities for community events, reported the Daily Post.

His Twitter account has since been taken down but a resident had forwarded the posts to the city, reported the publication.

In an email to The San Francisco Chronicle, Stevens wrote that he had resigned from the congregation to "help minimize the negativity focused on the good community work being done at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto."

"I tweeted to vent my frustration, and I acknowledge that I did so in an unprofessional and often hurtful way. My Twitter community has always been a small group of progressive ministers and Leftist political activists to whom my rants were geared," he wrote.

Some city officials said they were "horrified" by the posts, with Vice Mayor Eric Filseth describing them as “vile” during the council session.

“We really couldn't believe it," Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss told KGO. “The tweets were distasteful, they were hateful and they should not be reflective of our community.”

The Rev. Rick Mixon, senior pastor at the church, told the City Council on May 14 that he disagreed with the tone of the posts but said Stevens raised issues worthy of discussion, reported KPIX.

“He’s young and passionate about social justice,” Mixon said. “And he’s raising questions that come from our faith tradition about what it means to have wealth and privilege.”

Stevens, a Florida native, had been an associate pastor for faith formation and family life at the church since 2015, according to the church’s website.

The City Council eventually voted 7-2 to approve a permit allowing the church to rent its facilities to groups smaller than 70 people, with events for more than 70 people allowed six times a year, reported The Palo Alto Daily Post.

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