A pastor who was fired for criticizing former President Donald Trump is speaking out, even as the church that dismissed him insists that the decision was correct.

William Kopp was forced to resign as pastor of Stuarts Draft Baptist Church in Stuarts Draft, Va., after criticizing Trump by name in a May 31, 2020, sermon that was delivered outdoors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I don’t want to start a controversy. Apparently, God does. And I’m just the messenger,” Kopp said during the sermon. “… Why will we not finally admit that we have put a liar in our White House? Why will we not finally admit that that is the antichrist?”

Speaking of Trump, Kopp claimed that “18,000 fact-checked lies in 1,100 days is more than just unacceptable.”

“It is more than just sin. It is more than just wrong. It is demonic,” he said during his sermon. “… And you can’t deny it. … And if you choose to deny that, then you choose to deny Jesus. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t support the law and claim the truth. You can’t support the antichrist and support the Christ.”

The sermon’s location — outdoors — gave attendees the opportunity to drive away if they were offended. That happened, he said.  

“In the middle of the sermon, all of a sudden, I hear a car, I hear an engine crank up, and tire squeal like somebody’s running a dragster out, and a minivan comes careening out and races down to the parking lot and races off into the distance,” Kopp told Reckon. 

Kopp said he delivered the sermon after having a “crisis of faith.”

The deacons met him after the sermon. The next day, they told him that members were demanding his resignation. He resigned on a Wednesday. 

Jim Brooks, a church deacon, said Kopp went too far. 

“The thing that got me was at the very end, Pastor Kopp said that if you voted for Trump, you are not a Christian,” Brooks told CNN. “That was the biggest thing for me.”

The church’s interim pastor, Billy Coffey, told CNN that he likes Kopp but that “when you mix religion and politics, it won’t make religion better.”

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.