Silicon Valley pastor resigns over controversial profanity-laced tweets criticizing Palo Alto community

An associate pastor from Silicon Valley resigned from his church after posting profanity-laced messages on his Twitter, where he criticized the Palo Alto community.

(Wikimedia Commons/Finlay McWalter)This site is the University Avenue at Ramona in Palo Alto, California.

Rev. Gregory Stevens stepped down as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto following a city council meeting's discussion of his tweets. The vice mayor reportedly said Stevens' criticism was vile and that he would personally not send his kids to the pastor's church.

Stevens apparently wrote that "Palo Alto is an elitist shit den of hate" on Twitter. He also described the city as disgusting and made anti-capitalism comments. He even went as far as to as criticize its residents, including the elderly members of his church and the city council.

Residents took screenshots of the pastor's posts before it was deleted to report Stevens to council officials. A public hearing followed to determine whether the city would allow the church to continue its lease. Two council members dissented but First Baptist Church's lease will remain.

In a statement to the press, Stevens said that he decided to resign a week after the council meeting to draw negativity away from the church he served. He acknowledged that he behaved unprofessionally when he vented online but he also explained his frustrations.

"In my experience of trying to work with this community for almost 3 years, I believe Palo Alto is a ghetto of wealth, power, and elitist liberalism by proxy, meaning that many community members claim to want to fight for social justice issues, but that desire doesn't translate into action," Stevens said and underscored that action, more than lip service, is needed in Palo Alto.

The city council also spoke with First Baptist head Rick Mixon. He said that while the tweets were appalling, Stevens had the right to criticize as protected by his First Amendment rights. Mixon, however, also said that perhaps he needed to use a different tone or language.