The pastor of the Grace of God Church in New Port Richey, Florida is refusing to remove a sign posted on the church property that denounces people planning to vote for Democrats. The church is rented as a poll location. And despite repeated warnings from officials and calls from the public for the pastor to remove the sign, he has so far refused. Even has gone as far as saying he’d be willing to give up the church’s non-profit status.
The church serves as the polling place for precinct 034 in Pasco County.
In response to a comment that says “I love Jesus and I’m voting blue,” Rev. Al Carlisle wrote “You support abortion, Infanticide, you are against marriage being defined as one man and one woman, you support lawlessness and anarchy, you support mob rule vs rule of law, you believe in open borders, all are against what God has given in his Laws.”
Citizens commenting on the Facebook post of the sign have filed official complaints with the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections and others have begun the process of filing complaints with the IRS.
Described by many as voter intimidation, the church has not relented and as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, the sign was still posted.
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley commented on the Facebook post. He said the pastor had no intention of removing the sign.
“Regarding the above referenced sign, per Florida law, our authority ends at 100 feet from the entrance of the polling place. Beyond the 100 feet, I have no legal authority and in this case, it’s private property..Upon hearing that the sign was featured on the Church’s Facebook page, I contacted the pastor in the hopes he would remove the overtly political sign as we were getting a tremendous amount of complaints from voters. The Pastor relayed that ‘he’ personally placed the sign there but the church supports him. I relayed that it was inappropriate for the owner of a facility used as an election day polling place to put an overtly political sign out. He indicated he would not take the sign down.”
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Corely said the sign is “not appropriate,” but he had no recourse.
“I resent it when we’re trying to run an election,” Corley told the paper. He said Carlisle lectured him and when it was explained the issue was not about religion, and Corely asked the pastor to please remove it, Carlisle refused. Corely said the county would not use the facility again as a polling location, which will cost taxpayers several thousand dollars.
“Being a polling place is not a license to make political statements as the host,” Corley was quoted as saying.
The Florida ACLU affiliate also commented on Carlisle’s Facebook post.
A call for comment was not returned. The url supplied by the church on its Facebook page does not exist.