The Edmond Sun

Local News

November 16, 2011

Police investigate threats against Edmond pastor

EDMOND — An Edmond pastor said his church began receiving threatening phone calls, including a death threat, hours after he addressed a metro city council about the issue of a sexual orientation policy.

Wednesday morning at 4:15 a.m., Blair’s church office received the first of 10 threatening phone calls, according to information, including an audio compilation, released by Blair. Calls also were received during the lunch hour and Wednesday afternoon, he said.  

Tuesday morning, by a 7-2 vote, the City Council in Oklahoma City passed a resolution proposed by Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid that amended the city’s personnel policies to include a specific reference to discrimination based upon sexual orientation. It prevents gays and lesbians from being fired based solely on their sexual orientation.

During the meeting, Shadid said by taking this action, the council would be doing what has already been done in many municipalities, counties, schools and universities and large businesses in Oklahoma and across the country.

“I am a businessman. I like the idea of running government like a business,” Shadid said, listing local examples. “It improves performance and productivity at work and the general well-being of the employees at work.”

Shadid said earlier in the process there was no opposition to the resolution. He said Jesus didn’t address homosexuality, but he did often talk about poverty and the needs of people.

During the lengthy discussion period before the vote, individuals on both sides of the issue spoke. Among the opponents was Paul Blair, pastor of Edmond’s Fairview Baptist Church.

On Wednesday, Blair said he did not even reference Scripture in opposition to the policy. He said his points were that the policy was unnecessary because the city and city attorneys clearly stated that there had not been discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Secondly, it was unprecedented that action would create a special class of protection based upon someone’s behavior, he said. Finally, he told the council this was a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) effort and to remember the “T.”

“With a policy to provide special protection for transgenders, it would be discriminatory to forbid a man from using the lady’s shower or restroom in city buildings,” Blair said. “What about the rights of women?”

Blair said he has never witnessed an act of “hate” committed by a true born again believer in Jesus. However, countless acts of violence, hate and terrorism were committed against many of his pastor friends during the Proposition 8 campaign in California.

“Now, my secretary, my staff, our private elementary school and my church is exposed to this vile language and these threats of domestic terrorism,” Blair said.

In the first message, a male caller is heard saying, “I have committed homicide more than one time in more than one state and yet have not been caught nor charged. Think about that.”

In other messages, apparently the same caller is heard saying he would be visiting Blair at his church, at his home, that he wanted to sexually assault his wife and that a (muffled word) has been placed on church property in the building.

Glynda Chu, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, confirmed that Blair had filed a police report related to the calls. She declined further comment.

Special Agent Clay Simmonds, spokesman for the FBI’s Oklahoma City office, said the agency had not been contacted about the threats.

Blair, who in the past has preached unabashedly on the issue of homosexuality and spoken about issues related to Islam, said he has had security personnel at the church for the past couple of years and has taken additional steps since the calls began. Police officers came to the church several times during the day, he said.

“We’re already pretty secure,” Blair said.

As church members were preparing to gather for Wednesday night services, Blair said his No. 1 concern is his congregation’s safety. He said plans for Sunday morning are to proceed as normal.

“We will keep our eyes and ears open,” he said.

Regarding the caller, Blair said his desire is for the man to become a follower of Jesus.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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