Despite the event opening with the Lord’s Prayer, the pastor of a Melbourne, Florida, church who attended President Trump’s rally in his hometown over the weekend is claiming “demonic” activity and vitriol were palpable at the event, traumatizing his 11-year-old daughter.
“I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable,” wrote Joel Tooley, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Melbourne.
“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.”
In a lengthy Facebook post, Tooley admitted he was not a personal fan of Trump, but he was excited the president of the United States was coming to his town, and he sought to share the experience with his daughter.
As he described the event, Tooley said he was unnerved by a rendition of Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA,” and the “almost church-like” fashion that Trump supporters sang it.
“People were being ushered into a deeply religious experience … and it made me completely uncomfortable. 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. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the song per se – it was this inexplicable movement that was happening in the room. It was a religious zeal.”
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He also remarked on first lady Melania Trump’s recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
“I can’t explain it, but I felt sick,” Tooley said. “This wasn’t a prayer beseeching the presence of Almighty God, it felt theatrical and manipulative.
“People across the room were reciting it as if it were a pep squad cheer. At the close of the prayer, the room erupted in cheering. It was so uncomfortable. I observed that Mr. Trump did not recite the prayer until the very last line, ‘be the glory forever and ever, amen!'”
And once the president had commenced his address, Tooley says fans of Mr. Trump confronted protesters who were also attending:
It was then that I heard two ladies off to my left chanting, not yelling or screaming but chanting, “T-R…U-M-P; that’s how you spell – bigotry!” They repeated the rhyme over and over.
Two ladies in front of them began seething and screaming in their face while shaking their Trump signs at them. Another couple standing behind them started screaming at them as well. One of the chanting ladies had her eight-year-old daughter on her back; the other had a severely disabled child in a wheelchair in front of her. As they continued chanting, the people around them became violently enraged. One angry man grabbed the lady’s arm – that’s when I went into action. I barged through the crowd and yelled at them to back off. My heart wasn’t racing; I just instinctively became a protector.
I didn’t actually want a Trump sign, but one of the volunteers had shoved it into my hands as I walked through the door earlier; “Make America Great Again!” That sign probably saved someone from getting hurt. I held the sign close to my chest as I positioned myself between the chanting protesters and the angry mob. My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear.
The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, “F*#% YOU!” Repeatedly.
I calmly responded, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” Their faces and their voices were filled with demonic anger.
I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. 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.
I raised my voice and calmly said, “These ladies have the right to do what they are doing and they are harming no one; this is America and they a right to express themselves in this way. They are harming no one.” A couple of other people around me stepped in and supported me in protecting them as a barrier, as well.
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!”
I wish I could have captured the expressions of that man on camera. I will never forget him.
The little girl on her mother’s back was crying, completely frightened. I leaned forward and reassured her in her ear, “Your mommy is being brave and we will not let these people hurt you. You are afraid because these are angry, awful people. We will not let them hurt you or your mommy. You are being so brave and your mommy is doing something very brave.”
That’s when another lady screamed in my face that what I was doing was un-American. I just chuckled and responded, “What I am doing is completely American – I’m standing up for people who are being bullied – it doesn’t matter if I agree with them or not. You came here to see the President, now ignore these ladies, turn around and enjoy the show.” Without explanation, they calm down and turned around to hear what Trump had to say.
The two protesters then moved towards the back and left the building. I got a couple of high-fives and “thanks for stepping up for them” from bystanders. I wanted to say, “Thanks. Where were you when the demons were screaming and fists were getting ready to start swinging?”
Tooley says he realized “that we were not listening to someone presidential, we were listening to someone terribly powerful. My kid was shaken – she had just seen some of the worst of humanity.”
He concluded his post by noting he had the words of the Lord’s Prayer echoing in his mind.
“As we left the room, these words were echoing in my mind, “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done ….
“At the end of the day, I’m a citizen of a nation – I have a leader who God is very aware and who has tremendous responsibilities. I MUST and will pray for him. I’m a citizen of this world and I must continue to see beyond my own limited world view to seek ways to obediently serve Christ. But greater still, I am a citizen of a different kind of Kingdom – the Kingdom that strives for peace, mercy, kindness and a love-relationship with the King of kings. May God have mercy on me.”
According to his Linkedin profile, Tooley is also an immigration activist. He has been an immigration specialist with World Relief, which is one of the nine agencies that get paid by the federal government to resettle refugees in the United States.
Not everyone agrees with Tooley’s assessment of the Florida rally. Some comments posted online include:
- “Pastor Joel Tooley’s remarks don’t represent what I experienced. Melania Trump’s prayer was brave, affecting and uplifting. The cheering afterward was an affirmation of her character and an exaltation. Quite a contrast to some of the remarks of our former first lady. There is similarly NOTHING wrong with a joyful singing of ‘God Bless the USA.’ And yes it is a ‘deeply religious’ experience – to truly acknowledge that our Nation would have never been and will not even continue to exist without Divine Providence. God Bless the USA, and God Bless the Trump family.”
- “I don’t think this pastor understands how much some of us have been destroyed by the demons that have run this country. We are angry. While I don’t believe Trump is the answer, I did vote for him because of the choices, he was by far the best. I would like for that pastor to read what happened to me at the hands of the demons running the Democrats – and others cloaked as Republicans – they have absolutely no conscience. He needs to understand. People are very angry at having their lives destroyed by those who are treasonous and have helped George Soros and Obama and everyone else he owns – all the New World Order people (the Bushes, the Clintons … the major media, etc.) – destroy this country – on purpose. He needs to understand. Now those who think Trump can do it all? Not true. We all need to be in there, throwing out all the rats. In every community. This pastor needs to get his head into reality – and maybe, God will have to show him what he’s shown a lot of use out here. However, what he describes does not sound real.”
- “This story is such BS to the core. Phony and made up. A coward resorts to ‘my 11 year old daughter was afraid … malarkey. This guy is a plant. Invoke the name of Jesus Christ as credibility for this crap makes you anything a man of God or of the faith.”
In the wake of WND’s coverage, Tooley posted a note on his Facebook page Wednesday morning.
“I called my mom to ask her to pray for me this morning; I heard hesitation in her voice,” he wrote.
“I just don’t want people to think you voted for Hillary,” he said his mother indicated.
“You can rest assured, mother. My vote did not go for Hillary … nor Donald,” the pastor wrote.