As Father Josiah Trenham prepared to read the Gospel, several parishioners discreetly scooped up their babies, retreated up the aisles of St. Andrew Orthodox Church and out into the spring air, so as not to allow the crying of little ones to disturb the divine liturgy.
The time-honored tradition was shattered when a car passed by the Riverside, Calif., church, slowing down as the front passenger leaned out of his window and bellowed menacingly through a bullhorn, according to witnesses.
“Allahu Akbar!” the unidentified man repeated several times as the unnerved parents drew their infants close and exchanged worried glances.
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Members of the church were gathered under the main archway when the car passed slowly by, its occupant allegedly yelling “Allahu Akbar!” over a bullhorn.(FoxNews.com)
Witnesses were able to give Riverside police a description of the green Honda Civic, but not of the three occupants. Some told police they believed one or more of the men may have been taking photographs, according to Officer Ryan Railsback. Although Trenham insisted multiple congregants heard the Arabic phrase, Railsback noted no mention of it was in the police report.
Whatever the case, no law was broken – even if an unmistakable message was sent and received.
“Be calm and to keep a special vigilance over the property and our children while we are at church,” Trenham wrote in an email to parishioners in which he recounted the disturbing event. “Pray that these provocative young men might repent of their intimidation and be saved.”
Trenham told FoxNews.com last week the situation remains “tense and tenuous,” and said the church now has security officers on hand for all regular services.
“It is a deep sorrow to live this way in the ‘new America,’” he said.