A West Virginia pastor who has received threats and endured various other forms of harassment for voicing opposition to Facebook's rainbow flag emoji has moved his family out of their home in Harpers Ferry after being advised by local police to do so because of safety concerns.
As previously reported, Pastor Rich Penkoski, who runs the online ministry "Warriors for Christ," has received an immense amount of backlash from LGBT advocates after the popular Warriors for Christ Facebook page vowed in June that anyone who posted the rainbow flag emoji on the page would be banned by its administrators.
Penkoski told The Christian Post that he didn't want the rainbow flag emoji on the "Warriors for Christ" page because it "is a pride symbol for homosexuality and we are a Christian ministry."
After Patheos.com's "Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta reported on how Warriors for Christ would ban anyone from its Facebook page who posted the rainbow flag emoji, the Facebook page was quickly inundated with over 900,000 rainbow emojis and the "Warriors' for Christ" prayer line was inundated with callers who opposed the ministry's view on sexuality.
Because the Warriors for Christ webpage listed Penkoski's home address, he and his family have received threats, have had feces sent to their house and have had their car keyed up. Additionally, Penkoski says that there were occasions when he would see random people walking back and forth on the road outside of his home.
Last Tuesday, Penkoski received the most chilling threat in the form of a Facebook message from a man named Michael Grant.
"I know somebody waiting right now to out a bullet through your skull," Grant's message, which was shared with The Christian Post, reads.
Grant's message continued by warning Penkoski that someone was going to kill him and his family.
Penkoski told CP that the message from Grant came just one day after he and his wife decided to move out of their rental home in Harpers Ferry, which they had lived in for only eight months after the family moved to West Virginia from New Jersey in 2015.
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Having now settled into a new rental home in a new town, Penkoski said that his home address will not be shared on the ministry website or Facebook page.
"I am not going to back down from it, but I do have six children and I do have to be wise about that as well. To me, honestly, it's just a matter of time until one of these people does something stupid," Penkoski explained. "It was recommended by the police and my attorney as well that as much as we want to stand up, maybe it is just smartest to move because all these people know where we live. It is a smart thing to do for my family's sake."
Penkoski assured that "none of this is going to cause me to back down. "We are not going to stop telling the truth."