STOCKTON (CBS13) – A Stockton pastor is being accused of using hate speech against Islam. Part of the pastor’s recent sermon was captured on video and his words are raising concern within the Muslim community.READ MORE: Teachers Union Takes Legal Action Over Sac City Unified's 'Refusal' To Address Make-Up Days Related To Strike
The sermon in question took place at Christian Life Center in Stockton as part of a series of talks during a weeklong conference last Thursday. It was the head Pastor Nathaniel Haney’s message about Islam that struck a nerve.
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During the talk, Pastor Haney referred what he called “the Muslim problem.” He said, ” I know that some people believe what I’m saying, but you’re scared to speak out because you don’t want to be blown up or you don’t want to be exiled.”
At least one parishioner, Evangelina Rosas, was so appalled that she started recording the sermon.
“I have a lot of Muslim friends and people I go to class with, and while I sat there listening to the pastor attacking people I love and respect, I felt he was attacking me,” said Rosas.
During that same talk, Pastor Haney continued, “If you’ve never been out of this country and you’ve never been to a Muslim country, you don’t understand how dark Islam is. People don’t understand how bad Islam is.”
Rosas’ fears this kind of speech could incite more hate towards Muslims.READ MORE: Athletics Snap Out Of Offensive Funk To Beat Twins 5-2
“For one, this church is separated by a freeway from a mosque, and if his language incites any ideas — if his words were to plant hateful ideas into people’s minds, who knows where they can go with it,” she said.
The Council on American-Islamic relations in Sacramento says hate crime incidents against Muslims have gone up drastically in the past year, and in just the last week, there were two mosques vandalized in Davis and Roseville.
“I would consider that hate speech. Ultimately that’s his right to say what he likes, but it’s sad a community leader is using their platform to spread hate as opposed to love,” said CAIR Civil Right’s attorney Saad Sweilem.
Members of Pastor Haney’s church who heard the sermon defended his words.
“I wouldn’t think that he would ever mean anything inciteful or hateful like that.” said one churchgoer.
This isn’t the first time Pastor Haney has been heard preaching this way about Islam. Other sermons found online show him calling Islam a “religion of terror” and a “religion of the sword.”MORE NEWS: La Stella Homers As Giants Beat Rockies Again, 10-7
We attempted to interview Haney, but a church spokesperson said he was out of town. Associate Pastor Eli Lopez refused our request for a comment about Haney’s sermon, but issued a statement saying, “We are a vibrant multi-cultural church where people of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds are welcome.”