The pastor of a Melbourne, Florida, church said he felt “demonic activity” and “religious zeal” at President Donald Trump’s weekend rally that left him and his young daughter traumatized.
Joel Tooley, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, which is a Protestant church in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, revealed in a Facebook post on Sunday that he took his 11-year-old daughter to the rally on Saturday.
Tooley said even though he is not a Trump supporter, he did not want to miss out on a rare opportunity see the American president in person.
But the rally turned out to be nothing at all like he expected.
He was immediately unimpressed and disappointed by Trump — who, the pastor said, spoke like a bully — and his wife, Melania, who recited the Lord’s Prayer.
But beyond the speakers, Tooley was more bewildered by the crowd, whom he described as an “angry mob.”
“I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable,” he described. “The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.”
The pastor had intervened when Trump supporters became aggressive toward two female protesters who were present at the rally and “chanting” their opposition.
When the pastor tried to defend the protesters against harm and for their right to protest, he said that he was met with severe hostility by Trump’s supporters.
“My daughter was shaking in fear as she clung to me. The one man behind the protesters shoved himself forward, grabbed the lady by the arm and screamed with multiple expletives, ‘I’m going to take you out! This is my president and nobody has the right to disrespect him and nobody has the right to keep me from hearing him,'” Tooley wrote.
He said that his daughter was “shaken” by the entire experience, as she had witnessed “some of the worst of humanity.”
The pastor likened the rally to a “religious zeal.”
“I love my country; I honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and I respect our history and what we stand for, but what I experienced in that moment sent shivers down my spine. I felt like people were here to worship an ideology along with the man who was leading it,” he described.
Tooley admitted that not everyone at the rally was hostile or violent, and said that he did not want to judge Trump’s presidency based on the worst of his supporters. But he noted that it would be very hard for his daughter not to remember the anger and hatred displayed at the event.
He acknowledged that every president has their strengths and weaknesses and Trump supporters would want him to see the “good things” about Trump. While describing himself as someone who is not stubborn or close-minded, Tooley said he cannot view Trump in a positive light.
“You see, the angry, F-word-spewing man is what has been depended on throughout this campaign and is the one who is still being counted on to sustain the message,” he wrote.
In a follow-up post the pastor noted the attention his observations have been getting, and revealed that he has received various responses.
“I have heard many supportive comments; words cannot express adequately my gratitude for the kindness,” he wrote.
“I have also been labeled ‘venomous,’ ‘so-called Christian,’ ‘divisive’ and ‘an embarrassment to the kingdom.'”
In his speech, Trump took aim at the media, which he described as “fake news.”
“They are part of the corrupt system,” Trump said. “They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda.”
The U.S. leader argued that “incredible progress” has been made toward making the country great again.
“I’m here because I want to be among my friends and among the people,” Trump told the crowd. “Our plans for the future, they’re big and they’re bold and it’s what our country is all about, believe me.”
Despite what he witnessed, Tooley said that as a citizen of the country, he will pray for Trump.