The pastor of one of Alabama’s largest churches apologized on Sunday for a remark he made the previous week in which he said “if you don’t like it you can get on a boat and sail away” in reference to honoring the U.S. flag.
The Rev. Kevin Hamm, senior pastor of the 8,700-member Gardendale First Baptist Church since 2006, said “I had absolutely no idea that somehow that could be construed as offensive,” during an apology on Oct. 1.
“When that flag is raised, or they sing or play that national anthem, you owe it to the men and women who have given their life’s blood to protect our freedom to stand in honor of it,” Hamm said in his previous remarks on Sept. 24.
“You have two options: you can stay here in America and help us get America back the way that God has designed her, or if you don’t like it you can get on a boat and sail away ’cause nobody’s making you stay here. Amen?”
In his apology on Oct. 1, Hamm said he had received complaints from “two precious people” who were offended and noted that “maybe others” were offended.
“I don’t want to give the enemy any cause for any division whatsoever,” Hamm said. “I believe in honoring our flag and national anthem, but we don’t worship the flag, or America, but we do honor them. However, with the challenge last week, I made mention of getting on a boat and sailing away and I just want to say to you, please forgive me if in any way that statement hurt you…. I never dreamed that statement could be offensive. I’m ignorant of that, and please forgive me. I am so sorry if that hurt you.”
He added, “My intent was to communicate that if you hate America and you do not want to live here, or if you’re only going to propagate hatred or racism or division or violence, if that’s all you’re about or if you’re not willing to join hands and help us be part of the solution, only part of the problem, then I just ask why stay here? Why stay here and cause trouble?”
SOURCE: AL.com – Greg Garrison