An Alabama church has apologized for comments made by Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James, saying they did not reflect its goal of being a place where “everyone feels welcomed.”
Life Chapel, a church in Rainsville in DeKalb County, posted on Facebook it had removed a video of James’ appearance at the church “because we understand the concerns from so many and they are valid.”
“While we are very passionate about God’s people leading in every sphere of influence, and while we align ourselves with Biblical values, we did not feel the particular statement that has drawn so much attention reflected the heart of God, nor the heart of this church,” the statement said.
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Those statements, according to audio obtained by WIAT, covered James’ visit to Richmond, Virginia, which he describe as politically “blue,” or Democratic, and noted people around him looked like “they were from Mars.”
“They were tattoos from the head to the toe,” James said. “Some girl came walking by. I mean she was about six four, plus her heels, and she had a great big old mohawk, nothing down each side but a tattoo. And it was a freak show.”
In its post, Life Chapel doesn’t mention James by name but said its “mission is to bring God’s love to life.”
“The specific comment that concerned many people was concerning people that looked differently, particularly ones with tattoos and certain hairstyles and clothing or lifestyle choices.
“Life Chapel’s mission is to bring God’s love to LIFE. Everyone’s life. Every nationality and every background… Every person who expresses themselves differently and how they look and the choices they make,” the church said. “For far too long, the church has been a place lacking hope and comfort for every type of person…A place where only certain people fit in or belong. This is not our heart, nor is it the heart of God.”
James’ campaign did not respond to AL.com’s request for comment but told WIAT the candidate has no plans to apologize.
“The church invited Tim to share his heart for the nation. The comment in question, which prompted the church’s decision to remove the video, was an illustration which considered the time and season we are living in and the Azusa Street Revival in the early 20th century. Anyone with a discerning heart should not be offended but encouraged. We are not going to apologize for anything Tim said in the pulpit of a church,” the campaign statement said.
James is one of the handful of GOP gubernatorial hopefuls hoping to unseat incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey. Recent polling shows Ivey is one of the most popular governors in the country.