Tensions rise over El Monte church’s anti-LGBTQ message – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Tension has flared up between leadership of the First Works Baptist Church and some members of the community who are outraged by the church’s anti-LGBTQ message.

The church’s pastor filed a police report over an online arson threat and a protest against the church is planned this weekend by critics of the church. City officials say they are working to keep the situation peaceful.

First Works Pastor Bruce Mejia filed a report with police last week after receiving a threat of arson on social media. Mejia said his doctrine since the church was launched three years ago includes condemnation of same-sex relationships.

El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso logged the report and met with Mejia on Jan. 7 and asked him to not instigate or react to anyone who has been critical of the church or his sermons. Reynoso said Mejia was receptive to the Police Department’s suggestions.

Reynoso said his department is monitoring the situation but did not investigate the social-media threat further.

Last week, some residents called Mejia’s sermons and the church’s stance hate speech during public comments at the El Monte City Council meeting. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy organization specializing in civil rights litigation, lists the church as an anti-LBGTQ group on its watch list.

A group called Keep El Monte Friendly, which has branded the church’s messaging as “hateful rhetoric,” plans a protest on Sunday. Reynoso said police officers would be assigned to keep watch on the demonstration.

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