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Palo Alto pastor scourges Silicon Valley gentrification, resigns

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Gregory Stevens foul-mouth Twitter ministrations drew ire of City Hall

Photo of Palo Alto rooftops. Sundry Photography

Gregory Stevens, a minister at Palo Alto’s First Baptist Church, resigned his post last week, criticizing the community for what he alleges is a two-faced attitude about issues like homelessness and gentrification.

According to a biography posted on the First Baptist Church site, Stevens, originally from Florida, has been an associate pastor at the church since 2015. On a blog separate from the church site he occasionally writes about politics and religion, using headlines like “Anarchism: The Jesus Way.”

Earlier in May, in response to hearings about a potential permit that would allow the church to lease its space to outside groups, a tipster complained to the Palo Alto City Council about Stevens’ colorful language on Twitter:

I thought some of his troubling recent tweets should come to the attention of Palo Alto city leaders and the residents of Palo Alto. [...] Should this type of person and the organization he represents oversee a Palo Alto Community Center? [...] I urge the city council to enforce existing R1 zoning laws and severely restrict the non church related rental activities being conducted at the church.

Less than a week later, Stevens announced he was resigning his position, but not before letting the city, both government and citenzry, have it in a 600-plus word statement cited by the San Francisco Chronicle and other outlets.

Among his complaints, Stevens paints Palo Alto as a den of hypocrites for allegedly turning a blind eye to social and economic problems and pointing the finger at Silicon Valley:

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.

[...] The tech industry is motivated by endless profit, elite status, rampant greed, and the myth that their technologies are somehow always improving the world.”

The Guardian newspaper reports that Stevens emailed them with complaints that Facebook in particular is “completely destroying (through rapid gentrification) the historical black and brown East Palo Alto neighborhood” and railed against homelessness and poverty.

The twitter comments that drew the attention of City Hall actually had little to do with economic policy or gentrification at all and more to do with Stevens’ visible ire.

In recent months, Stevens declared “Palo Alto is a shit den of hate” and “In the nicest way possible: I hate Palo Alto,” among other comments.

Tweets picked out in the City Council complaint also griped about elderly church members who “always fall asleep,” and made frequent scatological references.

Although much of the ire also seemed aimed at Stevens’ political opinions, singling out supportive comments about socialism and San Francisco’s ban on fur, among other things.

The inciting Twitter account no longer exists, although Stevens has since launched a new one with the same handle @hellogregory handle and now lists his locale as San Francisco.