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 TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump 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-CortezOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Pro-Trump Republican immigrant to challenge Dem lawmaker who flipped Michigan seat 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyJoseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts Ocasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarWorld Jewish Congress condemns Tlaib for suggesting boycott of Bill Maher's show A lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Tlaib suggests boycotting Maher show after he calls anti-Israel boycott movement 'bulls--- purity test' 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 AmashLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Sanford headed to New Hampshire amid talk of challenge to Trump MORE (Mich.).