An Episcopal church in Pasadena has been receiving "hateful" messages from other Christians over its decision to host the annual convention of a Muslim American civil rights organization on Dec. 15, according to church leaders.
Officials from All Saints Church in Pasadena and the Muslim Public Affairs Council scheduled a news conference at the Euclid Avenue church this morning to discuss the attacks prompted by the upcoming MPAC convention, the first the group will be holding at a church.
The church has received more than 25 hate emails and threats since Friday, Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for communications at All Saints, told The Huffington Post. One compared Islam to Nazism and called Muslims "Body Snatchers." Another quote reads, "You are Consorting with the Enemy that is Killing Christians Worldwide."
One message, sent from South Carolina, says: "The problem is that by providing cover and legitimacy to an organization dedicated to overthrowing the Constitution, and substituting Sharia law therefore, you endanger my country and my grandsons' future."
The famously liberal church is used to criticism. But All Saints rector J. Ed Bacon said in his sermon Sunday that the missives prompted by the MPAC convention were "some of the most vile, mean-spirited emails I've ever read in my life, talking about All Saints participating in terrorism," Russell reported.
The emails started after the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Christian group, on Friday published a criticism of the convention on its website, saying: "Yet again, the Islamists are taking advantage of naive Christians with a desire to show off their tolerance."
MPAC President Salam al-Marayati said he contacted All Saints about hosting the convention in order "to provide an alternative model of positive Muslim-Christian relations" and "to tell Muslims to stop speaking to themselves and start speaking to the broader American public."
He told the Huffington Post that he is working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and local police to make sure the convention, expected to be attended by around 1,000 people, turns out to be a safe event.