Amid nationwide riots following protests over the horrific police killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter activists harassed a Baptist church in Troy, N.Y., a suburb of Albany. Videos of the harassment went viral on Twitter, and the church confirmed to PJ Media that the harassment did, in fact, occur.
“On Sunday, June 28, the Marxist thugs screamed, chanted, harassed, blocked our steps from allowing people to enter the church, and then physically assaulted our church members,” John Koletas, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, told PJ Media on Thursday.
The harassment did not end on Sunday, however. “On June 29, Monday evening, after asking to be allowed into our church services, as long as they behaved, I allowed 15-20 of these BLM Marxists to come into our church building accompanied by two or three Troy police officers,” the pastor added. “After some preaching, singing, and an invitation to trust Christ, they left chanting and screaming vulgarities and obscenities on their way out.”
Koletas dubbed the Black Lives Matter activists “Marxist thugs” because the leaders of the official Black Lives Matter movement have identified themselves as Marxist and have adopted a Marxist political platform. Americans of goodwill should all agree that black lives matter, but the official movement seeks to weaponize the righteous anger over the death of George Floyd to further its radical agenda.
Kevin Hodge and his identical twin, Keith, who perform as conservative comedians and podcasters, shared three video clips of the harassment on YouTube.
As a mother approaches the church building, activists shout at her, “Why are you bringing a baby into a church?!” Others chant, “This is no house of God,” and “Save those kids!”
A second clip shows Black Lives Matter activists becoming more active, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” and then punching a church leader.
The final clip shows Black Lives Matter activists leaving the church after the service on Monday. One man yells, “I’m not Christian, boy!” A woman shouts, “Get the f*** out of my face!” The usher responds, “Jesus loves you.”
The church also shared a video of the harassment.
The church also shared Koletas’ sermon to the protesters. He said that he grew up in a neighborhood that was “85 percent black,” and said, “90 percent of my friends were black.” Koletas explained, “I had anger, bitterness, and hatred in my heart” over the centuries of slavery the Turks perpetrated on the Greeks. “I know exactly what you’re going through,” he said, saying he himself hated America in his past.
When Koletas came to Troy, he knocked on “every door in the projects,” he said.
“I’ll be honest with you, I love the Troy police, even though I disagree with them. We pray for them every single week,” the pastor said. “They arrested me seven times, but I still love them.”
He addressed the protesters. “I love you as much as I love the Troy cops.” He shared the gospel message of salvation with them.
Grace Baptist Church also released a video interspersing the protesters’ attacks on Koletas with the pastor’s actual message.
It remains unclear why the Black Lives Matter activists targeted Grace Baptist Church, although it might have something to do with the church’s AR-15 gun giveaway. The church’s webpage about the gun giveaway quotes 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
Koletas thanked PJ Media for reaching out. “God bless you for reaching out,” he said. “Please pray for our enemies. They desperately need prayer.”
Update, July 10, 12:30 p.m.:
The Activist Mommy did some digging into Grace Baptist Church and uncovered a sermon that may have inspired the Black Lives Matter harassment. In February 2019, Pastor Koletas preached three sermons declaring that certain people groups are “cursed.” He started with “Greeks Are Cursed,” a message about his own heritage and how the Bible says Greek people are cursed. Then he preached, “Jews Are Cursed” and “Blacks Are Cursed.”
In these sermons, Koletas argued that “May his blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25) extended a curse to all Jewish people — an argument historically used to justify anti-Semitism and pogroms. He did insist that the Jews remained God’s chosen people, however, and he insisted that no one is excluded from God’s grace.
In the even more offensive sermon about blacks, Koletas traced the “curse” back to Ham, claiming that black people have lower IQs in part due to the curse in Genesis 9. Slaveowners in the American South used arguments like this to justify the horrific practice of race-based slavery. The pastor also praised black people as generally “more open to the gospel” than other races.
PJ Media asked Koletas to respond to these sermons, and the pastor stood by his remarks. “If you can find something I either misquoted or referenced the wrong chapter and verse or person, I will apologize [for] that and correct it. If you can listen to last Sunday’s Adult Bible Study, the Word of God clearly teaches that every person who believes in anything other than the grace of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is cursed,” the pastor said. “The Bible even clearly says that God’s people are cursed when they rebel against God and disobey the Word of God.”
PJ Media asked Koletas whether the Black Lives Matter activists had mentioned this particular sermon in their attacks on the church.
The pastor said he did not know exactly why the Black Lives Matter group harassed his church. “There is no way I can vouch for any or all of what the Marxist antichristian Black Lives Matter group was chanting and saying. Most of all of my sermons are online and available for everyone to listen to. I do not apologize for anything I’ve said that is right,” he told PJ Media.
While the Bible does indeed suggest that every people group is sinful due to the Fall and cursed to some degree, claims about specific curses on specific people groups are hotly contested. The horrific racist history of claims about specific curses on Jews and black people make Koletas’ sermons particularly offensive. Furthermore, dwelling on such alleged curses is arguably destructive and unhelpful, especially considering the New Testament’s focus on racial unity in the church (Galatians 3:28) and Jesus’ outreach to Samaritans, a racially ostracized group.
It remains unclear exactly what motivated the Black Lives Matter activists to harass the church, but these sermons help put the harassment in perspective.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.