Some members of the congregation of a Virginia Baptist church reportedly walked out of the pastor’s Sunday service amid controversy surrounding the “America: Love it or leave it” sign displayed in front of the church.

Pastor E.W. Lucas of the Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox, Va., told local news outlet WSET-TV that some members left during his service Sunday in opposition to his and the sign’s message.


The “love it or leave it” sign first appeared last week and made national headlines as Lucas defended the message, made in support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE’s attack on four minority congresswomen whom he told to “go back” to the countries they came from.

“I thought I was going to make some remarks regarding the situation in Washington,” Lucas said last week regarding the sign. “It just came to me ... America, I love it. If you don’t love it, leave it.” 

After members of the congregation left his service Sunday, Lucas stood by his decision.

"I've tried to be honest," Lucas told the news outlet. "I've tried to do what's right. But I believe in my country. I love my country. And I don't mind standing up for the country."

Lucas last week said the controversy will not dissuade his support for the president’s message.

"People that feel hard about our president and want to down the president, and down the country and everything, they ought to go over there and live in these other countries for a little while," Lucas told WSET.

Trump had previously tweeted that Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez on food assistance cuts: 'If this happened then, we might've just starved' Youth climate activists grade top 2020 Democrats on Green New Deal commitment Sanders to join youth climate strikers in Iowa MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyAl Green calls for including Trump's 'racism' in impeachment articles Warren adds Ayanna Pressley as campaign co-chair Warren speech in Georgia interrupted by pro-charter school protesters MORE (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarAl Green calls for including Trump's 'racism' in impeachment articles Republicans disavow GOP candidate who said 'we should hang' Omar Hillicon Valley: Trump officials propose retaliatory tariffs over French digital tax | FBI classifies FaceApp as threat | Twitter revamps policies to comply with privacy laws | Zuckerberg defends political ads policy MORE (Minn.) should “go back” to their home countries, if they don't like the U.S., comments that prompted widespread backlash. He has since doubled down on his attacks, saying the four women should "apologize" to the United States for the things they have said. 

Trump's tweets aimed at the four progressive Democrats were formally condemned by the House last week in a resolution passed largely along party lines, with four Republican lawmakers voting in support, along with Independent Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Amash: Democrats missed opportunity in hearing to 'persuade people' on Trump impeachment MORE (Mich.).